How to Give a Proper Apology

September 22, 2004

To those for whom an apology may need to be given in the future (and is there anyone to whom that statement doesn’t apply?), let me give you two inviolable rules in how to do it .

First, don’t make the person feel worse because you have apologized to them. It wouldn’t be good to say, “I apologize for hating your guts.” This leaves the person wondering what horrible thing they have done or said. Our intention in apologizing to someone should not be a veiled attempt to get even.

Second, don’t apologize in such a way that they are now responsible for what you did wrong. Here’s what I mean: “I’m sorry if you’re offended by what I said.” All that means when you reduce the rhetoric is that I didn’t do anything wrong but I hate the fact that you’re so touchy. Equally wrong is this statement: “If I’ve hurt you in any way, please forgive me.” This sounds so much more noble and encased in humility, but reduce this down and it really says, “What’s bugging you?”

Read this and ask yourself if “maybe Jimmy Swaggart could learn some of these lessons”.



  1. What about: I’m sorry for whatever you think I did wrong. Too many people ask for forgiveness because they have to-just like children and ex-presidents-not because, like those who are broken and humbled, they want to.

  2. Swaggart:a counter-culture Christian, counter-culture Christian, or counter-culture Christian? All harm, no help. Sad but true. Everyone who heard the sermon today should read this as a perfect example of how not to oppose the culture.

  3. Jimmy Swaggart still comes at us with a swagger (pun intended) which we had hoped would disappear after his public indiscretions and “wet” repentance. But his approach is not only counter-cultural, but counter-productive

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