by Jonathan Cliff

If love means never having to say you’re sorry, leadership means always having to say you’re sorry.

I am a confident person. I lean towards over-confidence. When that leaning leans into those around me, I hurt people. When I hurt people I need to say I’m sorry. It may sound like a cycle, but each time I have to say ‘I’m sorry’, God continues to help change, mold, and shape my character just a little more like Him. It’s never easy, but it’s always necessary.

On that note here are a few thoughts on truly being sorry:

Don’t ever let the words, “I’ve been meaning to apologize for a while…” come out of your mouth. Don’t commit the double-apology and apologize for your lack of apology. It marginalizes the effect. When you know you need to set things right, just apologize quickly. If you’re late with an apology, just start from where you are and say you’re sorry. It may be late, but it still may be necessary.

Beware of the Sorry Disclaimer. That’s when you apologize, but then throw a “But you really made me do it when you…”  Don’t place any statement that in any way places any blame on the person you’ve hurt. If you feel you have to do this, then just skip the apology. This disclaimer does nothing for the person you hurt, it only further alienates them.

Do it in person, whenever possible. If the person you need to apologize is in anyway reachable, then go to them. If you aren’t able to lay eyes on them, then make the phone call. If you don’t have time for the phone call, then wait ’til you do. Letters, emails, and smoke screens don’t communicate your heart like your own voice will.

Jonathan Cliff is a huge advocate for families and believes that the family can be God’s primary way of reaching the world that they live in. Jonathan and his wife, Starr, have a full house with two sons, Ryan and Dylan, and one daughter, Lauryn. They have also served as foster parents for many kids over the years.

This post originally appeared here January 14, 2013. Used with permission from the author.