August 2018: Thought For The Month

August 03 2018

Time to turn the other cheek?

How tolerant are we of others when they make mistakes? Judging by some people’s attitudes when they are behind the wheels of their cars; sometimes not very. Nothing humbles us quite as much as when we make a significant mistake. What can we do? We can make an excuse or try to put the blame on someone else but the best solution is to own up and admit that I was to blame and that I should have done better. 

The bible says “a gentle answer turns away anger”. I have known occasions when I have done this and matter have turned so much better than I was expecting.  In fact on one occasion, when I was in business, I had a client with whom I did not get on well. I was working with my team on a project which had gone badly and I went to see him to say it was my fault. 

To my surprise from then we got on so much better. We all make mistakes and we like to see the human side of other people admitting to their mistakes, because that makes them the same as us. It’s harder to be upset with someone who does this as we know that we too are fallible.  

 My youngest son used to be cross with me when an accident happened in the home and I would tell him that accidents are always avoidable if he just thought about what he was doing, and that is true but we are not perfect and accidents do happen. It is good to feel that remorse and pain from our mistakes as that is how we learn from them. 

There is a well-known adage that the person who hasn’t made a mistake has not made anything. Thomas Edison who is famous for inventing the light bulb saw each unsuccessful attempt not as a failure but as a step forward. I remember once hearing a story about a young man who was ambitious to do well and was working for a business owner and the young man made a mistake which cost the company dearly. Somebody asked the owner whether he was going to sack the young man. “Sack him!” the owner replied-“why should I sack him, I just spent a fortune training him”.  

We saw something of this in the World Cup which has just finished. Gareth Southgate, the current England football manager famously missed a penalty in the semi-final of Euro 96.  This caused him real anguish, but he turned that to good when he was coaching the England team in this year’s World Cup and the whole team benefited from his earlier pain.

It’s hard to see people making mistakes with their lives and not learning from them or to see people who don’t realise that they are making mistakes with their lives. An English poet Alexander Pope wrote many years ago: “to err is human, and to forgive is divine”.  When God, through Jesus, forgives us he does so not because he too makes mistakes but because he is always compassionate and merciful, and he asks us who do err also to be forgiving. 


Tony Davies

Tony leads Waterbook Church which meets every Sunday at 10.30am in Begbrook School , Stapleton. You will be welcome-see their website