Have you ever known someone who “couldn’t be wrong”? My bet is that you’ll say “YES!” And maybe an eye-roll or a head tilted toward the person you have in mind will accompany your answer.
This is a problem that most men have. Men are often afraid, that if they apologize or admit that they’re wrong, they’ll lose the respect of others. Real leaders, respected people—so goes the flawed theory—never make mistakes.
However, women have this problem, too. How many men—and even women—have you heard joking about how the most important words for a new husband to learn is “Yes, dear” and “You’re right, I’m sorry”?
And teens famously have this problem—knowing better than mom or dad or teachers or anyone trying to offer advice. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy of seventeen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-five, I was astonished at how much he had learned in eight years.”
In other words, pretty much everyone has had this problem to one degree or the other. And since we’ve all suffered from this problem, we can all answer the question authoritatively: “How much did it really contribute to good communication?” Zero, nada, nothing, right? In fact, whether it is an idea that was off-base, or hurtful words that were spoken, or offensive deeds that were done; the unwillingness to admit fault is a big communication killer. The impasse or offense becomes the constant elephant in the room. Just like Isaiah described how sin separates men and God—“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:2—so also sin separates people.
The offender often just hopes, out of embarrassment or pride, that the others will simply forget about it and everyone will just pretend it never happened. As someone who does a lot of counseling, believe me when I tell you that’s it’s just not the way that things work.
As a minister, let me simply quote James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Confessing your sins (wrongs) to the person you wronged, admitting it, and sincerely asking for forgiveness is the Christian thing to do. This gives relationships, communications, and reconciliation the very best chance to thrive and flourish. And, yes, there can be a hiccup in communication principle, when the offended person refuses to forgive— we’ll talk about that next week.
In the meantime, admitting it, when we’re wrong, is not only a command from God to be obeyed, not ignored; it is the fast track to really talking, to true understanding, to personal (and spiritual) growth, and the healing of resentment, distrust, and divisions. Is there a wall between you and someone else? Remember the offense, admit your part of the problem, apologize, and tear down the wall.