By Pastor Kris Freeman, Revolution Church
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. – Jonah 1:1-3 (NLT)
I stepped to the bedroom window on Monday morning about 6:00 a.m. and peered into the brilliant sunshine casting shadows through the back yard on a blanket of snow.
By now, if you are a part of Revolution Church, you may have heard that I shared my affinity for being a meteorologist in my dream job, and then declared there was no way it would snow and stick Sunday night. Less than 24 hours later, kids were arriving to school two hours later under a fresh crop of snowflakes covering our city.
I had 47 messages on Monday through various ways asking me to stick to my day job of preaching and announcing, and leave the weather to professionals. By the way, they are always wrong, too!
But this humorous response caused me to step back and think – what do you do when you get it wrong, and especially when that is public and on display for everyone to view your mistake?
Jonah was a prophet of God called to go to Ninevah to preach, but because of his prejudice and disdain for the people there, he wasn’t exactly excited about seeing them make right and repent with the same God he served. So disobeying God’s instruction, Jonah ran from his duty and the story spiraled into a big fish tale, the eventual Ninevites repentance, and a sullen and pouting Jonah getting a talking-to of sorts after all was said and done.
Jonah, in no uncertain terms, was wrong.
Here’s three things we can do when we are wrong, and I think these will help you.
- Make the wrong a right.
Jonah had to pay the consequence for his decision, and often the wrong is a sinful action which may require a tough punishment. When you have wronged others, your first step may be paying those consequences and also speaking a moment of regret or sorrow. Make it right by saying you are sorry and doing what it takes to rectify the situation.
Today, we are being rather lighthearted but the truth be told some things are hard to ever make right and so serious that these steps don’t work. But for the sake of speaking to the practical things you deal with on a daily basis, let’s stick to making simple wrongs correct today.
Jonah’s first step after he ran was asking to be thrown from the ship where he had sailed into stormy waters. He felt his own decisions had endangered others, so he rectified and apologized and then was swallowed by a big fish that didn’t kill him, but spit him up where he eventually did his job at Ninevah.
When you are wrong, speak up and say it. Confession is the first step to forgiveness.
2. Learn to laugh at yourself (and let others do it, too)
The sailors with Jonah were scared in the storm, but after he departed the boat, I’m sure one of them shared sarcastically, “who invited that guy anyway?”
There are times when you speak yourself into idiocy and you simply can’t do anything else except says “whoops” and laugh it off, admit you’re wrong, and pardon my channeling of Kendrick Lamar, but sit down and be humble.
And then enjoy what comes with it. Here is a sampling of my messages from Monday:
- Stick to your day job
- There’s a reason I love you as my pastor and there’s a reason I love Henry at NewsChannel5. Let’s keep it that way
- You bothered to look outside yet?
- Hey, when you wake up, call me. I have a prediction that your day will be kinda interesting.
- Next week, can you preach on Revelation and let God handle the prophecy?
Ok, I get it. It snowed. My days as the Nashville snow czar are over. But I have truly enjoyed laughing at myself and letting others have the moment, and in doing so, I hope to have displayed a bit of imperfect humanity and authenticity.
3. Be thankful you have an influence that is listening
We can all do things to damage our character, trust and influence. It’s amazing that the Ninevites listened to Jonah considering how flawed he was and his approach must have been.
In making a mistake that was publicly visible and hilarious, it reminded me to be thankful for all the people who paid attention. Because in addition to finding out the pastor has no idea when it will snow, we also learned how to connect our emotions and our worship on Sunday, and shared some powerful thoughts about the transfiguration and Jesus.
So, in summary, yesterday I got thrown off the ship and this morning, the fish spit me out, figuratively.
- I’m sorry.
- Laugh it up, I deserve it
- Thank you for listening to me even when I screw up, cause this wasn’t the first time, won’t be the last time, and isn’t the worst time.
Now, the next time you screw up, remember this:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. – James 5:16
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
The Weather Man