What are the 5 most important words in your marriage? No, it is not “I love you sweet cheeks.” Neither is it “I’m home! I need beer!” There are many important words, but the most important, especially for men, is “I messed up, forgive me!” We all fall short of God’s expectations but we also mess up in relationship to others.
I attended a marital seminar about 20 years ago, done by David Hocking, and he really got in the grill of the men, but it was designed to help us, not beat us down. Sometimes, a beat down, like basic training in the military is a prerequisite for building a bigger, better man.
It is important for men to apologize. It is not easy. We have pride. We lack good role models for healthy relationships. We are living in a culture where being a man is either attacked or made fun of. Think about your favorite TV comedy and how are the men portrayed? There are a few where men are strong, sensitive and Godly. Hollywood rarely gets it right.
If saying your sorry is not easy or natural, you are not alone. It is important to confess and be repentant. The second part is harder than the first part. Anytime a guy ends up in jail, or the young child has a bad report card, they are sorry. We are all sorry when we get caught. But, will they change their behavior?
Repentance is not only feeling sorry about the behavior, but a commitment for personal change. Many of the readers out there (those who work in prisons!), have job security because so many felons repeat their foolish ways.
Men in marriage are not the only place men need to use the 5 important words. In work, sports and ministry, we need to humble ourselves. There is a common belief that saying we are sorry or admitting defects of character is a sign of weakness. That is the reason that “confession is good for the soul.” The soul is not only your thinking and emotions, but your GPS for future behavior. If there is no commitment to change, there will be no change.
Thinking thoughts can lead to better behavior, but not unless the man is willing to be uncomfortable and do the work required for real change. I like the 12-Step programs, because in the beginning everyone admits they need to be there. Whether they keep coming back or get a sponsor who will tell them what to do, well that is another story.
I saw the Clippers basketball team lose last night. CP 3 (Christ Paul) stared down the cameras and admitted to his bad play. He is an all-star player, and probably an all-star father and husband. I am too lazy to do the research. It is important to admit your sports sins as well. Humility is not only good for the soul, but God will put CP 3 back on top. I am totally convinced God is a sport’s fan—more on that in another column.
In ministry, men need to do the same. When we serve we will make mistakes, not show, get the time wrong, forget the water, or whatever! Humility helps keep the sheep happy. If the leader is not repentant, it will cause the sheep to scatter.
Forgive me for the times I have put my foot in my mouth with my writing. I messed up…Forgive me!