Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Monday 21st December 2015

and the winner “actually” is … — #TellHisStory

mistake, Steve Harvey, Miss Universe

One of the biggest mistakes we can ever make is not admitting when we’ve made one.

That’s what I was thinking this morning, as I watched news reports of last night’s Miss Universe pageant.

Steve Harvey, the pageant’s host, had named Miss Colombia as the new Miss Universe. The crowd erupted in cheers. But then, Mr. Harvey realized his mistake. He said later that he hadn’t read the entire card. Miss Colombia was the first runner-up. The winner actually was … Miss Philippines. Harvey returned to the stage, and announced Miss Philippines as the winner. (You can watch it, in a five-minute clip, by clicking here, or watch below.)

Moments like this are fodder for social media. So of course, Twitter and Facebook lit up with wisecracks and virtual eye-rolling.

“You had one job, Steve,” much of the Twitterverse was saying, “and you messed it up.”

I’m not a pageant watcher. But I was so intrigued, and saddened, by the online banter that followed it.

How easily we resort to judgment, jeering and criticism of those who err. From where I sat, most people were more interested in being funny than kind, especially when given an opportunity to make someone else the butt of a joke. How quickly we forget our own humanness, our own ability to err.

No wonder so many of us are scared to step out of comfort zones, to face our fears in front of a live audience, to try something new, to step forward for the challenge. So many people I know are afraid to do what God calls them to do, because they fear they’ll mess up while people are watching. We fear incompetence. We are held hostage by our own approval ratings. It’s no wonder we feel that way! Because there are actual people out there who are quick to let us know: “You had one job, and you messed it up.”

Which kind of people will we be?

The real winner was crowned last night. Miss Philippines walked away with the crown that she had won. I am so happy for her, and yet I feel terribly sorry for Miss Colombia. Both women handled the gaffe with such grace and poise.

But if you ask me, one of the actual winners here was … Steve Harvey.

You know why? Because it takes a real man to stand in front of people and admit he is wrong. It takes a real man to be courageous enough to apologize. It takes a real man to correct a mistake. It takes a real man to avoid excuses, and just fess up.

It’s so tempting these days to make excuses, stand our ground, prove a point, make a case, blame someone else.

But this is what I learned from Steve Harvey last night:

One of the biggest mistakes we can ever make is not admitting when we’ve made one.

mistake, Steve Harvey, Miss Universe

Being wrong is one of the most uncomfortable places of all. I don’t like saying I’m sorry. When I lose my temper with my kids, I feel justified, and I don’t want to apologize. When my husband and I have an argument, I want to be found in the right. When I mess up, I don’t want to admit it. Some days, the “sorry” comes slowly.

But since forgiveness is built into the spine of the Gospel, I need to acknowledge when I’m in need of it. Because forgiveness is foundational to the Cross, I need to offer it more freely to others who err. When we make mistakes, we need to admit it. And when we see one being made, could we all extend a little more grace to the one who failed?

You know, I have “crowned” a lot of stuff in my life. I’ve given crowns to my achievements, to my hustle. I’ve given first-place honors to my own agendas, and mistakenly made God a runner-up in my life.

On this earth, I’ve “had one to job to do,” and that is this: To love God and enjoy Him forever. But I’ve messed that task up time and time again. I’ve had to de-crown a lot of stuff in my life, to keep the crown on the real King.

That’s why I can’t help but see Mr. Harvey as a real winner today.

Years from now, some folks will talk about how Mr. Harvey made a mess of things at the Miss Universe pageant in December 2015. But I’ll remember what he did next.


#TellHisStory Announcement: This week’s linkup will be the FINAL linkup for 2015. We will resume on Jan. 5, 2016. Thanks for a great year!

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Jessica Bolyard. I truly love her words about God giving us Jesus, the greatest Gift. “I nearly tremble with my eagerness for my daughter to open this perfect (yet admittedly trivial) gift. What must it have felt like for God to anticipate the unveiling of the Gift every one of His children needed most?” Find Jessica here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 xo Jennifer

  • Fabulous commentary, Jennifer. Thank you. xox

    • Thank you, Patricia. Lessons in unlikely places.

  • Anna Smit

    So very true, Jennifer. This especially: “How quickly we forget our own humanness, our own ability to err.” Not one of us has ever been or will ever be perfect (no matter how hard we may try at times or berate ourselves for not being). Where would we be without grace?!

  • Lisa

    What good insight, Jennifer. Thanks for the clarity and shot of grace.

    • You are welcome. Thanks for being here, Lisa.

  • I feel so bad for Miss Columbia and happy for Miss Philippines. I love the lesson in humility Steve Harvey has shown us. It’s really too bad some people put him down. I’m so glad God is so gracious! Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. I hope you have a Christmas filled with the love Jesus has brought to us!

    • I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Trudy.

  • Nancy Ruegg

    I, too, admire Steve Harvey for his heartfelt apology. I pray that people everywhere will see him and others like him as worthy of respect, for demonstrating genuine honesty and humility. You are so right, Jennifer: We all make mistakes. What separates the courageous ones from the cowards is what we do after. God, help me to follow Mr. Harvey’s example when it’s MY turn to make that choice!

    • Me, too! God, help me follow this example.

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  • I feel sorry for everyone involved as the moment passed without them enjoying it. Even us the audience felt a little deprived of it. But I never blamed the host. I don’t think he accepted the job and went there with the intention to ruin it.

  • Hollyko

    Steve Harvey, quite a gentleman through this. Your post was right on. I wish he could read it.

  • This truth you write, here, ” I have one job… to love God and enjoy Him forever”, It is loaded with purpose, Jennifer, our purpose, our pleasure, our privilege. I have been considering this 1st catechism a lot recently after a deep thought-filled coffee time with a good friend and seeing your summation of this principle only strengthens the resolve to step into that place of serving God well, no matter what. I had not watched the pageant either but like you heard of it and wondered why it is ok for us to take the place of accuser so easily when grace admits our imperfections and need for the babe who came to the manger and walked purposefully to the Cross. 🙂 Great words today, Jennifer!
    Blessings and Merry Christmas!

    • So glad these words resonated with your heart, Dawn. Grateful for you, and looking forward to sharing in 2016. xo

  • Tara Ulrich

    Jennifer, thank you for writing this. I didn’t watch the pageant but saw FB, Twitter, etc explode the minute it happened. Steve Harvey truly is a class act for admitting that he was wrong. I wish people wouldn’t be so quick to judge, but rather would be better about offering grace. Grace is a gift freely given to each and every one of us. And thank you for the greatest gift who comes in a manger in Bethlehem. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Merry Christmas to you, too, Tara.

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  • Liz

    It takes a real man, indeed, to admit his mistakes. Love this!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Have a Merry Christmas.

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  • So sad the way people treat others. After the mistake was announced, the other contestants flocked to Ms. Colombia to comfort her, but they also unwittingly “shunned” Ms. Philippines, even if it was not her fault. Steve Harvey said, “Please don’t take it against the ladies!” I can imagine this cruelty played out in school playgrounds all around the world. Yes we all have to learn to forgive, just as Jesus forgives us for all our mistakes!!!

    • Interesting observation, Patsy. I hadn’t considered that.

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  • Thanks for turning this news story around. You’re right, the easiest thing in the world for Steve Harvey would have been to do nothing! May we be people of kindness, grace, and humility, people who realize we’ve also messed up on the “one job we had to do.” Merry Christmas, Jennifer. May God bless you and your family as you celebrate Christ’s coming.

    • Merry Christmas to you, too, Betsy.

  • This reminds me of all the times I’ve had to apologize and say the words “I was wrong” to my kids. Knowing that I’m teaching them the truth about our sin and the way to handle it on this planet takes some of the sting out of it, but it’s a hard discipline. Thankful for the grace of God!

    • Why is it so hard to admit when we’re wrong? I’m so grateful for the ways that kids accept an apology and move on. As adults, we tend to hold on longer to our anger, like we’re safer if hold it as a weapon.

      • I think it’s a pride thing. And a justice thing. We forget that grace is everything.

  • Susan

    That video? Yikes – can you imagine how Miss Columbia felt. I almost couldn’t watch it. So glad we are #preapproved. Merry and Blessed Christmas Jennifer to you and yours.

    • Oh, I know, Susan… I felt badly for her. Those women prepare for years. I am not a big fan of pageants, not I empathized greatly with her. And I was so impressed by her grace.

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  • saltshakmk@msn.com

    Hi Jennifer! Gah–couldn’t watch such an embarrassing moment all the way through on the video clip. Had to click it off–felt soooo bad. But, agreed–a precious and quality moment was redeemed from the ashes of disaster and Mr. Harvey’s tall stance when others might have cowered small makes my heart rejoice for the rightness of it all.

    May you and yours enjoy a blessed Christmas week, and take great joy in all things good and beauty. See you in January!!

  • Jennifer,
    Such wisdom and grace in your words, and so sad that people are immediately so harsh…Wishing you and yours a blessed and joyful Christmas 🙂

  • No kidding. We all make them. We all hate to admit that we do. Perhaps the most practical “Christmas ” post – praying I won’t make any mistakes today and tomorrow but IF and WHEN I do, praying I’ll be the first to admit it. Christ came as a humble baby. I’m most like Him when I’m humble. have a fun holiday in the snow! sue in CA (at least it’s raining, PTL)

  • Sharon

    I had no idea this happened! Oh dear, can you even imagine?! But, I like Steve Harvey, and I do feel like he’s a person who *tells it like it is*. I admire his willingness to admit his mistake, as it shows integrity and humbleness.

    I usually ‘fess up to my mistakes – sometimes even apologizing when something isn’t my fault! But, I’m usually not so quick to look at my sin shortcomings. Oh, that I might learn to confess and repent with humbleness!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, and GOD BLESS!

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