Occasionally, I put my foot in my mouth by failing to adequately explain myself. Consequently, listeners hear a completely different message than the one I intended to convey. Fortunately, the misunderstandings have not been harmful to anyone except me, resulting in personal embarrassment to me and compelling me to make a statement that clarifies something I previously said.
This past Sunday while serving as the Worship Leader at my church I made one of those misstatements. My intent was not to to mislead anyone- deception would benefit no one, including me. However, a message I received yesterday alerted me to the fact that my statement may have been misunderstood by some. I immediately felt the need to clarify the misunderstanding and to apologize for any confusion that resulted from me not using precise language.
As I pondered the blunder and thought about how to correct it the following quotes came to mind.
- “Avoid the appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
- “Don’t give the Devil a foothold.” (Anonymous)
- “Use precise language.” (said by characters in The Giver, by Lois Lowery)
- “Think before your ” (Anonymous)
With those thoughts in mind and the desire to set right a potential wrong I have taken the following actions. First, in the form of an email, I notified my Pastor that my statement may have been misunderstood and that I was contemplating ways to fix it. Then, I prayed, I should have done that first. Now I am offering a public explanation of the situation and issuing a statement that, I hope, clarifies my intention. If an apology is due anyone, I offer it wholeheartedly.
During the announcements I made a statement about preaching at so many different churches that I sometimes get confused about the order of service. (The preceding statement is a paraphrase. However, it accurately connotes the essence of what I said.)
My purpose for making the statement
I was attempting to explain the lack of ease with which I was transitioning from one part of the service to another. The statement was not intended to infer that I have recently preached at many different churches. I have not. Over the past two years I have only preached, infrequently, at two Presbyterian churches. However, for many years prior to adopting my son, I was a frequent guest preacher/speaker at various faith based organizations-including churches.
During those services I was the preacher or keynote speaker. As such, my duties were only to read Scripture, pray, preach, and give the alter call. That is the ritual with which I am the most familiar. So, when I am asked to do other activities during worship, I feel like a fish out of the water floundering around on dry land.
Looking back on Sunday, I fully understand how my woefully short statement may have given the wrong impression. To clear up the confusion and “to not give place to the Devil” the following explanation is provided.
The message I intended to convey
“OVER THE YEARS, HAVING LED WORSHIP SERVICE IN VARIOUS DENOMINATIONS (FEW HAVE BEEN IN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHES), EACH TIME I AM IN A PULPIT I FIND IT NECESSARY TO REVIEW THE NUANCES OF EVERY WORSHIP SERVICE. THAT IS WHAT I AM DOING NOW -LOOKING OVER THE BULLETIN TO MAKE SURE I AM NOT MISSING ANYTHING. I REALIZE CHECKING THE ORDER OF SERVICE DURING THE SERVICE CAN GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF FUMBLING. FOR THIS I APOLOGIZE; BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM DOING-FUMBLING THROUGH THIS PART OF THE SERVICE. “
God, please help me use precise language and to think carefully before speaking. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen