How To Handle Mistakes

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

In life mistakes are made.  How do we handle them?  Here are two great examples.

At the recent Miss Florida pageant Elizabeth Fechtel, a twenty-year-old University of Florida student from Leesburg was crowned Miss Florida.  What an honor!

A few days later the Miss Florida Organization discovered a tabulation error in the judging. (Florida seems to have trouble counting votes!)  Executive Director Mary Sullivan said the tabulation error was noticed during a routine recount.  A mark on one judge’s ballot was inadvertently overlooked.  The ballots were tabulated again by an independent auditor and confirmed the mistake.

The Miss Florida crown was taken from Elizabeth and given to Victoria Cowen of Panama City.  The response by Elizabeth is inspiring.  She wrote, “I am saddened to say there was an error in tabulation…I am a firm believer that God has a plan and a purpose…Victoria Cowen will be a great titleholder and I hope you all show her the recognition she deserves.”

“There is one idea I want to emphasis:  I was Miss Florida for a glimpse, but more importantly, I have been Elizabeth Fechtel since day one.  A title does not define me.  It opens doors, but it does not dictate who I am and where I am going…I recognize the mistake in the balloting is less important than my choice on how to handle the recovery process.  My choice is to charge forward and make a lasting impact on my community and country, as Elizabeth Fechtel.”

She concluded with a Bible verse, “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hardpressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Wow – what a reaction!  What a way to handle a mistake.  What an example of faith.  What an attitude to face all of the ups and downs of life.

In an earlier century a young girl contracted eye disease.  Her parents took her to what they thought was a doctor, but it was a man posing as a physician.  He treated her with the wrong medicine and it blinded her for life.

The young girl was Fanny Crosby.  Instead of being filled with bitter resentment she decided to let her life be full of praise and gratitude.  She said, “It may have been a mistake on the doctor’s part, but not on God’s part.”

Being blind she pursued the opportunity to write and sing hymns of praise.  She embraced the “mistake” as a blessing.  She wrote more than 8,000 hymns – favorites like “Blessed Assurance,” “To God Be the Glory,” and “I Am Thine, O Lord.”  What a way to handle a mistake.

Two great women who teach us how to handle mistakes.  In my book Fanny Crosby “saw” what people with 20/20 vision could never see.  In my book Elizabeth Fechtel did not lose the Miss Florida title – she gained the Miss Number One Human Being title!

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