When I was in the military there was a term that we used a lot the concept of which I find very useful yet today. The term was “Hip Pocket Training.” The concept was that as a leader you needed to always have something ready that should you and your soldiers have a lull in a days activities you could pull this topic out and teach it to your subordinates. It was founded on the premise that each day would present you opportunities and situations from which you could base some point of learning. I still do that almost every day.
Here’s one from last night. As many of you are aware we just completed a very successful Family Fest with several thousand in attendance and hundreds of volunteers involved in the planning, execution, and the cleanup from the event. In my opinion it was a huge success! One of the crowd’s favorite activities each year is the fireworks show to close the day. Hundreds of people begin to show up just prior to the show and our back field is filled with families sitting on the grass watching the show. Drivers along Humbert Road pull over to watch. Literally and figuratively it’s a blast!
However, one aspect that we did not foresee is the impact that the exploding fireworks would have upon the dogs in the subdivision across the road from the church. I’m sure they thought that their neighborhood was being invaded as the blasts are loud and the show lasts about twenty minutes. In response to this one of the families affected posted a synopsis of their evening and their dog’s reaction to the fireworks on Facebook. The comments were neither abrasive nor accusatory, just a report of the reaction of their dogs.
The point of this story that I thought presented a great teachable moment was a short discussion of what an apology is and what it is not. It occurs to me that most people feel an apology is an admission of some sort of guilt or wrongdoing. However, the Latin word that our English word “apology” comes from infers the defense of a particular position. It is possible to be completely in the right and still offer an apology.
Take our fireworks show for instance. We were completely legal. We had secured the proper permissions, used a licensed and insured contractor, and even went beyond the required regulations and had two fire trucks on hand in the unlikely event that something went wrong. Legally we were right in every way. However, that does not preclude us being genuinely sorry that we scared these dogs and created discomfort for our neighbors who we care deeply about. Our apology does not mean that we will discontinue our fireworks display in the future, only that we will actively search for a way to alleviate any problem that we cause doing it and that we are sincerely sorry for their discomfort.
1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
I believe that humility expresses itself in the ability to genuinely say, “I’m sorry,” regardless of the circumstances and regardless of your position.
Just for thought….