The Power of an Apology

Have you ever noticed how rarely you hear an adult person utter the words “I’m sorry”?  Oftentimes even if you do hear an apology, it comes with an explanation and a “but” which negates its intent.  As a result, I have come to the conclusion that it is the most difficult phrase to utter in the English language.

On Wednesday, June 2nd Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga pitched the game of his life.  With one out to go for a perfect game, umpire Jim Joyce unfortunately made the worst call of his.  Joyce, who by all accounts is an outstanding umpire, called a runner safe at first base who was obviously out.  When ensued next was a firestorm of emotions by everyone it seemed but Galarraga who showed amazing grace and class.

Joyce, to his credit, apologized profusely and Galarraga forgave him without precondition.  In a sport marred by labor strife and steroids, this became the most humane picture of all that is right in sports and relationships.

The following are the results of a sincere apology.

  • You Increase In Credibility. When you’re in a hole, stop digging!  When you mess up, everyone already knows it.  By admitting your mistake, you’re not telling those around you anything they don’t already know.  You decrease your credibility by defending your actions.  You increase your credibility by accepting the responsibility of your actions.  Did you notice how as the week unfolded Joyce became a sympathetic figure? 
  • You Restore The Relationship.  When a measure of faith in you is lost because of an error you’ve made in deed or judgement, your relationships are affected.  A sincere apology can restore and potentially strengthen those relationships.  However, if this does not take place resentment can set in.  Resentment then leads to rejection. Rejection unchecked will lead to hate.
  • You Show An Understanding Of  Grace.  If you are a regular reader of my posts, then you know that I follow Jesus Christ.  The sin in my life (and everyone else’s) led to His death on the cross.  Yet by accepting His free gift of salvation, He forgave me of much sin.  As a Christian, I have already admitted my sins to God.  It should therefore be easy to admit them to others.  I have been forgiven much, so when someone apologizes to me, I am compelled by the example of my Savior to forgive much as well.  Christians who choose not apologize or extend mercy to those that do, do not understand grace.
  • It Increases Your Generosity.  Many times it is more generous to give of your time and emotions than your money.  Galarraga was extraordinarily generous with his compassion.  He gave Joyce back his dignity, pride and standing in baseball which he could have literally taken from him.  And how was Galarraga repaid for his generosity, he unexpectedly received a 2011 Chevy Corvette by General Motors.  It is true what Ralph Waldo Emerson said “It is one of the true compensations of this life that a man cannot help another without also helping himself.
  • It Provides A Heroic Example To The World.  Below is a video of Galarraga and Joyce meeting a home plate the following day.  You can’t say enough about the class of the Detroit fans and organization.  What a picture of the healing power that was unleashed by humbleness, mercy and grace to a watching world.

There have been 20 perfect games in MLB history of which I can name only three without doing research.  Two of those three are easy because they were done in the last month. However, even though it doesn’t show as a perfect game or no-hitter in the record books, no one will ever forget the name Armando Galarraga.  If you have wronged someone, ask for their forgiveness.  You will be freed from a form of self-torment.  It will be hard, but watch the video and see what The Power of an Apology can do for you.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

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