Stop saying sorry!

As a driving instructor not many thing irritate me. I have to confess though, one thing does: when pupils keep saying sorry for every little mistake they make. Indeed, for some pupils I actually ban them from saying the word!


sorryWhat I’ve observed, is that this characteristic or fault tends to be in pupils with very self-critical, analytical and perfectionist personalities. Unfortunately, these pupils are hard to teach because they are so self-conscious and fearful of mistakes. Their progress is often slow!

Why do I get irritated though? It’s not because pupils make mistakes. I expect that! But I don’t need them to apologise to me to saying sorry – as if I’m offended. After all, I’m there to help them with any mistakes they make. That’s what they pay me for. I mean, they are a new driver, why would I identify every little fault on their first lesson? That would be unfair and discouraging  for the pupil. Yes, its great when they are are aware of a fault and confess it (especially out loud which seems to help): “Oh I forgot to look in my mirror!”  However, my primary role as a driving coach is not a corrector of faults but an encourager.

Indeed, ever though I will correct some faults, I don’t want the pupil to be concentrating on faults all the time – that increases the risk and often makes the problems worse! When the pupil is relaxed and enjoying themselves, then teaching is easy and progress is fast.

The Holy Spirit – our coach

What can we learn from all this? The Holy Spirit is your ‘personal life coach’. Like the driving instructor He’s not the corrector but the encourager. His job title is the helper or encourager.

John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”

sorryWill He correct you at times? Of course, but it’s all about relationship and good communication. Yes, sometimes He will intervene, grab the steering wheel or use the dual-controls to slow you down (or the spiritual equivalent). However, He’s never angry or frustrated with you. Indeed, a bad instructor is one who get’s angry – I’ve heard a couple of horror stories from my pupils who’ve suffered at the hands of old-school driving techniques!

Is God ticked off?

I do feel though, that that some believers are a bit like some of my pupils: always focusing on their own and others sinfulness rather than the perfection of Jesus. I hope you don’t mind, but if your like this I find you sort of irritating! ‘Sorry’ – oops I’m not supposed to say that!

Seriously though, does God really want us to be constantly focused on our sins, confessing and saying sorry to God every 5 minutes for each offence? It must drive him crazy and tick him off big-time – thankfully God is just allot more gracious and patient than me! I mean, even under the Law the Jewish people only had to confess their sins once a year!

I suppose what I’m saying, is that we have made confession a very heavy thing when actually it simply means to admit our fault. Like my pupils, I train them to admit and recognise their faults. I don’t want them in floods of tears pleading how sorry they are. Likewise, all God requires, is an attitude of openness and willingness to be corrected. That’s what it means to walk in the light. You don’t have to spend hours repenting on your knees!

Gods Grace Works BookImagine for example, if on a driving lesson every time you forgot to look in your mirrors I got you to stop the car and say sorry. Wouldn’t that be ridiculous! Of course if we had a major incident – say you narrowly missed another car, then I might get you stop and make sure you understood the consequences of your actions before continuing.

In the next article, I’m going to look at that well known verse 1 John 1:9. It’s going to be really good news for all you perfectionists out there!

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