How to Take Back What You Said

A friend of mine served as an elder in a large church in Waterbury, CT many years ago. He tells a story about how their pastor literally got carried off the stage—but not the way we might like to carry a winning quarterback off the field…

They were signing the praise song, “Shine Jesus Shine.” The pastor, feeling exceptionally inspired, decided to dramatically preach the lyrics while the music continued in the background. “SHINE—Jesus, Shine,” he began, “Fill this land with the Father’s glory! Blaze, Spirit Blaze…”

And that’s where the service “went off the rails.”

He was SUPPOSED to say, “Set our hearts on fire.” Unfortunately, in the heat and passion of the moment, what came out was, “Blaze, Spirit Blaze—set our farts on fire!”

Revelation speaks of a moment where “there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour.” The silence didn’t last that long, but there was a moment where everyone was thinking, “Did he REALLY say, what I think I just heard him say?”

That’s when chaos was released. Someone snorted and then everyone exploded with laughter. At first, the pastor didn’t realize what had happened, but when someone whispered to him between giggles, he came completely unglued. He shook with laughter and eventually slid out of his chair onto the floor in mass hysteria. The worship leader attempted to regain control, but to no avail. The deacons and elders literally carried the pastor off the stage and someone closed with prayer…

Speaking the Unspeakable

Sometimes, we just say things we wish we had never said. I’ve had days when I put both feet in my mouth–as if one wasn’t enough. It’s almost like we can see the words leaving our lips and we want to scream, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!!” but it’s too late.

Then what?

Married couples tend to be more guilty of verbal offenses because of familiarity. When you’re that close and intimate with someone, you tend to let your guard down. You tend to say whatever comes to mind because you are, in fact, “one” with that person (Mark 10:8).

And, while its impossible to “put the Jeannie back in the bottle,” what CAN we do when we say what shouldn’t have been said?

Steps to Heal

  1. Admit the mistake. Too often, we try to explain, justify, or “spin” what we said and that just makes it worse. Better to just admit that it was a dumb thing to say and that we’d like to retract, reject, and renounce it.
  2. Ask for forgiveness. Don’t assume that it will be overlooked. Rather, ask the hearer(s) to grant you grace.
  3. Accentuate the positive regarding the offended party and contradict the statement as much as is possible/reasonable.
  4. Accept the need for time to pass and healing to occur. Sometimes, we want the other person to just “move on,” but the hurt is deep and thus time must pass. We need to be patient with this and grant them the time they need.

If these steps fail, third party counseling or help may be in order. Feel free to contact us here if you need help finding someone in that case.


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