How To Turn A Bad Witness for Good


Earlier this week, we discussed the incident of a Catholic church in San Francisco that decided to prevent homeless people from sleeping in their doorways and back areas by installing a mechanism that sprayed water on the homeless people every 30–60 minutes.

As a result, images like this sprung up of homeless trying to sleep while using umbrellas.

The church eventually changed their plans and decided not to continue with this method of deterring homeless people.

This misstep by the church in San Francisco created a bad witness that was divisive and turned many onlookers away from the church and Christianity. What’s worse, this Catholic church along with another in San Francisco are the largest providers of homeless services in the city. They were effectively helping homeless people with resources, but pushing them away from their church at the same time.

We are all human and we will all make mistakes that lead to a bad witness of Christ’s love, just like this church. How do we turn around a bad witness for good?

  1. Be honest with your shortcomings. Hiding or trying to justify a bad witness does no one any good. Be honest with where you failed and apologize directly.
  2. Seek forgiveness from those you hurt. Our actions can create deep wounds in a person’s emotional and spiritual states. These wounds are not easily healed, but the process is helped by seeking forgiveness for any harm inflicted on others. Don’t justify. Simply make amends and serve others.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. You may not realize right away why people were hurt from your actions. Don’t brush them off as easily offended. Instead take time to learn why they were upset and hurt by your actions. Doing so leads to greater mutual respect between the parties involved and keeps one from making similar mistakes in the future.

What other ways do you know of that we can use to turn a bad witness of Christ for good? Let us know in the comments below.

Steve Dragswolf

Hi, my name is Steve Dragswolf. I am Hidatsa born in North Dakota and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My heart is for the indigenous of the Americas. I am passionate about literacy and native culture. Connect @dragswolf

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