Do you want your students to be counter-cultural?

Of course, you can inspire them to hold truths in the face of relativism, to fight for righteousness when sin is celebrated, and to hope when all seems hopeless. Any of those actions will provide an awesome witness-by-contrast, as the watching world wonders about the peace, conviction, and hope that these Christians have.

But you can also teach them to apologize well (and often).

Your students will likely come across many more opportunities to offer heartfelt, humble mea culpas in any given month than they will have the chance to make public stands against the culture or to trust God through great tragedy. And yet it can be easy to overlook teaching the simple (and yet oh so hard) spiritual discipline of apology.

Training this well means encourages phrases that express vulnerability – “I apologize,” “Please forgive me,” and the even harder “Will you forgive me?” are all generally more important (and less cliche) than “I’m sorry.” And students can be trained not only to be “quick to listen” but to combine good listening with both “keeping short accounts” and true repentance, which will cause them to apologize faster and more emphatically than expected.

It’s not just apologies for sin that will shock people in your students’ lives. Even simple ownership of mistakes can work wonders. “My bad!” or similar (less dated) phrases should fall regularly from believers’ lips – and will surprise non-Christian classmates, workmates, family members, and neighbors throughout the years.

Few things are quite so pleasant but provocative as this sort of ego-forfeiting humility. How well do your students apologize?