How do you deal with people when they have made a mistake and obviously you know how to help them? Knowing what to do is sometimes not as important as how we do it.
In Acts 18:24 there was an interesting man by the name of Apollos who had become a convert to the Christian faith. He became a fervent disciple. He desired to teach and share his faith. His enthusiasm seemed to outrun the grounding of his intellectual understanding of God’s truth. He began to make a few errors.
How do you handle somebody who is in error? It is easy to confront the person in front of a lot of people and make yourself look good by showing them their faults. Sometimes the practice is to go to somebody and tell them what someone else is doing wrong, without confronting the person who is actually making the mistake. Some people simply “pray about it.” Some people criticize the errors in an indirect manner.
Priscilla and Aquila did the right thing. The Bible says “They took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:26) They didn’t embarrass him. They didn’t pull rank on him. They took him aside in order to be helpful to him.
When an employee makes a mistake in the office, the proper thing for a leader to do is “take that person aside” and share how their performance might be improved. The conversation emanates from a posture of humbleness with the desire to encourage. Some bosses just fly off the handle in front of other people and that becomes destructive for the whole group.
The best coaches are those who don’t destructively criticize right in front of the rest of the team. Some coaches lose their temper doing that. The best coaches “take them aside” and in a quiet but forceful voice point out how the player’s performance might be improved. It becomes a learning process.
The most productive parents are not those who criticize and discipline their children in front of adults or their peer group. That becomes a real embarrassment. Godly parents “take the child aside” and give good parental direction.
This principle also applies to the church. Pointing out faults of another person in public not only tends to destroy the person who has acted wrong, but creates a spirit of arrogance in the person doing the correcting. People who are watching easily become turned off to the church and Christian work if this is the way folks behave. When a person is in error, it is an opportunity for teaching that can help make that person a better witness, or it can be an opportunity to devastate the person. The way it is handled influences what happens to the person being corrected.
I am glad God “takes us aside.” It is a simple principle to practice. In the Book of Acts Apollos became a strong teacher and a great leader. Correcting him in the proper way helped make a great witness out of him. Check out the results in Acts 18:27, 28!