Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)

We’ve all heard of prominent Christian leaders who have been caught red-handed in some significant moral failure—then started making excuses. They might blame the pressures of ministry or the dissatisfaction of their spouses or the need to simply relax. And then, they’ll start playing the “grace card,” reminding everyone that “we’re all just sinners anyway”—so let’s just forgive this minor indiscretion and move on. And then, there are those leaders in similar situations who grieve and mourn their behaviors, fully submit to the discipline of their respective churches, and humbly step back until the process of restoration has accomplished its redemptive goals.

Spirit-filled humility is the antidote to the human tendency to take credit for personal accomplishments and any attraction the world may hold for us. If we remain convinced that God is the source of everything we have, there’s no room for sinful pride. When we sin, humility drives us to repentance—not deflection or blame shifting. When we bear fruit for God, we rejoice in the spiritual gifts He’s provided for us to make a difference in the kingdom.

When our hearts have been cleansed by genuine acknowledgment of responsibility, we are free to move forward without any lingering sense of shame. At the end of the day, God simply wants us to acknowledge what He can plainly see is true.

If you’ve created a significant loss in someone’s life, own up to it.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor; he is also on staff with his church as the small-groups director.