Did you see the Miss Universe pageant or at least the two-minute clip of Steve Harvey serving himself a slice of humble pie? Talk about taking “Family Feud” to a whole different level! I’m sure the “Announcing the Winner" job opportunities are shutting down the servers of Steve Harvey's “Act Like A Success” website. Seriously, I can see Fox or CNN election night coverage in his near future.
However, there was something counter cultural about Mr. Harvey’s handling of his unfortunate blunder that was unexpected and stunned me.
As a society, we have come to expect certain behaviors from famous folk that we can predict, imitate and repeat like the directions on shampoo bottle. We’ve grown accustom to watching them get out of those embarrassing, self inflicted situations unscathed by using crafty words, redefining meanings of words or using no words. From presidents to musicians to athletes, we have been educated on how to use excuses in order to protect our positions of power and feelings of significance. We have become experts in the field of self-preservation at all cost.
Excuses have become the normal process of deflecting and criticizing anyone who would attempt to impose the antiquated belief system of self-responsibility. Like most of us, I’m sure Mr. Harvey has plenty of material to work with to redirect blame. Surely he has unpacked issues from his childhood suitcase or deep unspoken wounds from his upbringing. Maybe he took one too many blows to the head from his early days of boxing or breathed in too many chemical fumes from all the carpet he cleaned as a young man. There has to be something he can sacrifice on the altar of blame.
We’ve also become a culture of that sits on the edge of seats waiting to view the failures of unsuspecting victims. We have late night talk shows, sitcoms and even whole channels dedicated to pointing out and laughing at the mistakes and blunders of others. Maybe it’s a subliminal coping mechanism we use to medicate the pain of our personal failures. In a weird ironic twist, Mr. Harvey has spent most of his career mimicking the mistakes of others as a form of entertainment. Now that the tables have turned, should we stand in line to catch the Gotcha Bus and spend days or weeks grinding gears to find reverse making sure we run over every detail of an honest mistake?
I believe as authentic men we should have a different response. Our response is one cemented in treating others how we would want to be treated if we found ourselves in the same or similar situation. It’s called grace. If we look through the lenses of grace, the opportunities to learn from others are magnified. In other words, we shouldn’t focus on the mistake, but the response to the mistake. I for one think Mr. Harvey handled his unfortunate situation with a display of humility we can learn from. Here are four principles to handle mistakes I learned by watching Mr. Harvey.
1. Own It
Mr. Harvey immediately took full responsibility and owned it. Owning your mistake has far less impact and fewer repercussions if you immediately diffuse it with an admission. It’s also a reflection of your character. In the words of John Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." Absolutely do not try to wiggle out of responsibility for the mistake or attempt to lay the blame for the mistake on someone else or offer excuses. These are all weak responses and shows a lack of character.
2. Admit It
Mr. Harvey didn’t wait until the show was over. He admitted it as soon as he realized he made a mistake. Always own your mistake. Admit it, as quickly as possible, explain it, and apologize if it impacted others. Owning your mistake shows self accountability and builds trust with others.
3. Solve It
As embarrassing as it may have been, Mr. Harvey remedied his mistake quickly. He didn’t ask how do I get out of this unscathed, he simply asked himself how can I fix this situation. Once the damage is done, take a course of action to remedy the situation, apologize, and learn from the mistake. You’ll be more cautious in the future.
4. Apologize for It
Harvey apologized from stage, personally called Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo, and then held a press conference. It seems he wanted everyone affected to hear his apology. An apology has to be genuine and heart felt. You don’t throw a pity party and invite everyone.
Mr. Harvey walked out true humility and demonstrated the ability to make the right decision under extreme pressure with the eyes of millions focused on him. It would have been easier at the moment to handle it differently. Yet he showed us the correct way to handle not only the most awkward and embarrassing mistakes of our lives, but the ordinary ones we all face daily.
Galatians 6:7 says "a man reaps what he sows.”
While the cultural gurus are jumping on the opportunity to magnify everyone's failures, we as authentic men should extend grace to those who need it. For we know, there will come a day when we will eat the fruit we have planted.
JT McCraw is the men’s pastor at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood TN and the founder of the BE MEN Movement, where he provides oversight for this multi-ethnic, multi-site men’s ministry, focusing on engaging and equipping men to serve Christ. Presently they have locations in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona. JT lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of twenty-four years and their five children. You can follow JT on Twitter @.