Humble Yourself When You Mess Up

You shouldn’t have to deal with my mistakes, so I’m willing to pay the penalties and extra interest.” Sandy fidgeted with her fingers and looked down, “But could you take it out in payments?”

After several moments reflection, Sandy’s boss stood up. “Sure, but I have another idea too.”

She didn’t like the tone in his voice. Danger bumps erupted all over her arms. Sandy was afraid to ask what he had in mind, but she was also afraid of his response if she didn’t clarify. “Yes, sir?”

“This will make a great training tool.” His face took on the far off look of reflection while he thought out loud. “We’ll film a video on the importance of follow-through, tickler systems, and accountability. New hires will watch it as part of orientation, and we can create a beefed up version to use at our quarterly management meetings. Everyone in the company will be required to view it. Sounds like a great idea.”

Sandy cringed, mortified at the image of all her co-workers seeing her mistake as an example of what not to do. She’d always prided herself on quality. Now she’d be the punch line of all their jokes. As she stood there, her imagination conjured play-by-plays of the office cliques reacting to the video in crazy ways, all of them humiliating.

“I’ll get the marketing team right on it.” Sandy’s boss either didn’t recognize her discomfort or didn’t care.

Sandy’s thoughts and emotions wrestled inside her mind and chest. She considered telling him she quit. No job was worth this kind of treatment.

“Someone from marketing will be in touch, and I’ll have payroll draw up the agreement to start weekly deductions for your repayment.” The brightness faded from his face at the last part of the statement. “I think we’re done here, right?”

Sandy nodded and mumbled a lifeless thank you, then turned and walked out the door.

She went to the ladies room and hid inside a stall to think. Hands spread across her face, she had a mental argument with herself. I know I messed up, but I don’t deserve this. I’m not a child who needs punishment. This is taking things too far.

But, you did make the mistake, and it’s a big one.

Everyone makes mistakes.

True, but you own this one.

And then a new struck thought. Part of Sandy’s job was scheduling the training segments once they were created. She could simply forget to include the video, for new hires and the quarterly meetings. Her boss was so busy he’d never remember. He regularly forgot much smaller things. Besides, if he questioned it, she could always claim there wasn’t room this time, and it was on the next docket.

She’d sucked it up and humbled herself, but she might still save face. A plan began to formulate.

Humble yourself with those you hurt. Act in a new way – opposite of the sin. This is the fourth step in Teshuvah.

Sandy wants to demonstrate humility, but she believes confessing and offering to pay for the financial cost of her mistake is enough. Now her boss wants to require more than what she believes is fair. Conflicting emotions can cause gnarly results. The temptation to retaliate may prove too strong. Sandy’s twisted like a tree after a hurricane.

What would you do? Accept your boss’s decision and go along? Snag temptation’s snarled limbs? How should we react when the consequences of our mistakes go beyond what we deem fair?

Matthew 23:12 (NIV)
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Expert, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.

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