Every December brings the entertaining and often inspiring opportunity to consider New Year’s resolutions.
The calendar changes. You get a fresh start.
You get a chance to accomplish all of the things you didn’t last year, and the year before that and the year before that, etc.
Everyone knows the typical resolutions. Some people want to quit smoking or drinking. I usually have a resolution to lose weight — thanks to a timely bout of food poisoning, I’ll be closer to my goal from a year ago.
I even dated a girl once who made a resolution on my behalf. She set a goal for how many times I would send her flowers that year. She also set her own weight-loss goal for me. She wasn’t all bad. But even Hitler liked cute kittens, right?
When I started considering facets of my life that could benefit a new start, I instead decided to resolve to continue something I am already doing.
In 2018, I will continue to be wrong when I write columns.
Sometimes when I write columns, sparks fly off the keyboard like lightning from Heaven is moving my fingertips across the keys. Other times, I read columns from a couple of weeks prior and wonder if I have been getting enough sleep.
I started writing columns when I was 23 years old. I also began managing a newsroom at that age. I thank God often that, as a publisher, I have never had to deal with "young Kent" the editor.
Early success went to my head. I was brash and bold. I could never be wrong. "Look at these awards. Could a guy who was wrong win them?"
Soon enough, I learned the answer was an emphatic "yes."
Giving myself the right to be wrong was a great gift.
I no longer had to pretend to believe the same uninformed things I had said one week, one month or one year ago. Being able to admit you were wrong before allows you to be right now. People learn. We see evidence we haven’t seen before. We have new experiences that inform opinions and make them closer to perfect.
Two trips to Ethiopia opened my eyes in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The older I get, the more I meet and relate to people who have had direct experience in life situations that I have only read about. Understanding debates through real-life lenses and not animated anecdotes have helped me grow beyond churlish one-liner opinions designed to fit on political protest signs.
It isn’t just 23-year-old editors who benefit from experience.
Imagine if conservatives in Congress or the Kansas and Oklahoma state legislatures gave themselves the right to admit they could never cut enough waste to make up the revenue they have given away to campaign donors. These policies hurt real people but they won’t ever admit it. Changing your mind or softening a stance is seen as weakness in politics. That’s a shame.
One of my favorite pastors is Matt Chandler from The Village Church in Texas. He never got to learn tough lessons at a small church. He made the mistakes of his youth in the spotlight. He even wrote an article called, "Clouds on the horizon" about the problems caused by multi-site churches. He had concerns that if churches began following the trend of having multiple sites under one pastor, that there would end up being a half-dozen spiritual teachers in America. Then his church became one of the multi-site churches.
"Give me a little grace, I was in my 20s when I wrote that," he said in a recent sermon.
Exactly. You can believe something now and discover you are wrong later without jeopardizing all of your beliefs.
Being wrong isn’t a sin. Being too intellectually dishonest to admit you are wrong probably is. But I’m not God. This is just my opinion. I might decide that it’s wrong later.
In fact, The Village Church recently spun one of their main satellite sites back into a freestanding church on its own with its own pastor and Chandler recently announced that they hoped to do the same with the other satellite locations in the next five years.
Sometimes things are right today, but tomorrow another answer makes more sense. Sometimes, you just make a mistake. Either way, holding onto yesterday’s answers won’t solve tomorrow’s problems.
Because I believe that. I will continue to be wrong occasionally in 2018. That’s one of my resolutions. I’m not afraid of it.
I’m not trying to solve 2018 problems with 2017 solutions. I will learn more, become a better version of myself and create new ideas and solutions that make me a better friend, father and leader.
I’m more than happy to be wrong yesterday if it means I am more right today.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at email@example.com.