Apology Doesn’t Always Equal Changed Behavior

“I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made….”

This lyric of the worship song, So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong United, rang in my mind as I looked at a disgruntled employee in my office.

The manager stood over the young man’s chair, describing a serious event that had transpired a few minutes earlier. I was surprised by the situation but remained focused on the employee, searching him for explanation…as if his body language, his dark eyes and clearly agitated presence would reveal to me why he would have committed such an act at a professional office.

The young man expressed sincere remorse and I truly believed him. He was indeed sorry. I’m certain of it.

With certainty, I also knew that if I retained his employ, another instance of something bad would definitely ensue. Perhaps even more serious.

I thought of David and King Saul. After the second time David could have ended Saul’s life but didn’t, David confronted Saul… why did he continue to hunt David to destroy him? What had he done wrong? Saul expressed disgust in his own behavior, apologizing to David, “I’ve sinned! Oh, come back, my dear son, David! I won’t hurt you anymore.” (1 Sam 26:21 MSG)

King Saul had sincerely asked David to come back with him, but notice David “went on his way” (verse 25). Even palace living couldn’t entice David after all he experienced with Saul.

David likely believed Saul was sincere in the moment. He also knew Saul well enough to know, it was just a matter of time before another spear flew at his head.

In the world of work, it is easier to receive a sincere apology and yet, still follow established rules. Making hard decisions knowing there will be limited, if any, contact with the person adds a sprinkle of ease. Still hard, but not like seeing the initially remorseful person regularly, observing again and again the repentant heart offend, hurt and leave new scars in the wake of their path.

God is merciful. To have us consistently sinful humans come to Him with remorse, knowing we’ll fall again, He still accepts and loves us. From a human perspective, it’s much easier to cut the person out of your life. Thankfully, He’s not us.

Let’s be clear that I do not see His heart in “everything” such as disgusting spiders, truly evil humans, etc., but I could see good in the young man across from me. I had observed him for a couple of months and surmised there was something in his life causing confusion in his mind and cluttered thinking that led to irrational comments and eventually, the concerning event which transpired. But, he was also energetic, engaging and had mentioned on more than one occasion that he liked his job.

I pray the young man grows wiser. We all fall short. It’s how we move forward that continues to develop our character.

“And as You speak, a hundred billion failures disappear…”

(Hillsong United, So Will I)

16 thoughts on “Apology Doesn’t Always Equal Changed Behavior

  1. I get it. I have a friend who “sincerely apologized” (with a bit of eye roll) over a year ago but has barely talked to me in two years. A month ago she messages on Christmas morning and says she feels there has been misunderstandings and we should talk. I tried to talk two years ago but was ignored and then she talked about my life to other people. Here is the thing though…I can forgive her and I have but I don’t really want to hang out with her again. I’ve lost trust that she won’t do it again because this thing where she decides I’m not worthy of her has happened before and I’m tired of it. I’m old. I am not interested in high school games anymore. Our kids can be friends but I’m not interested in even trying that again. I love her, wish the best for her, but we won’t have the friendship we had before and that’s okay. And things have changed with that employee (if he is still employed) but hopefully he will also grow from it. I would not want to be in a management position. No way.

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    • That’s a difficult position for you when attempting to decide how close to be to someone who has betrayed trust. I can imagine how leery you must be. I wish you the best handling her moving forward.

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  2. It was tough to go no contact with some family members. My dad badgered me with, “Why can’t you forgive them?” It took a lot of work to find an answer, but I finally did: “I have forgiven them. They don’t want forgiveness. They have no intention of changing. They want absolution, and I don’t have that kind of power.”

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