an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarismIt's always a possibility as an author, and if you are fast or sloppy, it's more than a possibility. It's a probability. Plagiarism is the one issue more than any other that concerns me as an author. Editing is important, because poor editing creates a hurdle that keeps the reader from following the most important concepts an author wants to present. But plagiarism undermines a work even more than poor editing because it reflects on an author's credibility and trustworthiness.
As I've worked through my own fears about plagiarism, I come back to one concept again and again. It's the same concept I come back to most days for most fears of mistakes I might make. It is the gospel.
Yep. I'm going there again. I'm throwing out that overused word again. Doesn't the gospel lose some of its power and effectiveness when we throw it out as the answer to our problems too often?
Um, no. No, it doesn't.
When I'm frozen over moving forward because of my own fears of failure, I remember the gospel. Yes, I'm a sinner likely to fail at some point. I may drop the ball. I may sin by omission, and I may sin by outright intention. But Christ has paid for my sins on the cross, and God now sees me wearing His robe of righteousness in place of the sin that can weigh me down. God's instructions to me in His Word when I sin and fail, either by omission or commission is simply, “Repent.” There are a million practical situations in which this truth absolutely, radically changes everything.
Repent. Humble myself. Admit what I did wrong either intentionally or by lack of careful oversight. And then seek to repair it. Did I hurt someone else? Then I need to consider how I can make it right. This is basic Bible 101. Repent and repair. I've been teaching my boys this since they were in preschool.
I am inspired every time I hear of someone who humbled themselves to admit they were wrong. In the end, as the Penn State community was tearing down Joe Paterno's statue, he grew in my estimation when he admitted his fault. Mike Tomlin did it this week when he accepted blame for blocking Jacoby Jones' punt return in the Steelers-Ravens game last week.
Mike Tomlin maintains that he didn’t realize how close he was to the field of play during his sideline mishap last Thursday, but he’s also not using that as an excuse. Tomlin, who was nearly bowled over by Ravens returner Jacoby Jones on a kick return on Thanksgiving, accepted responsibility for his actions during his press conference on Tuesday, even noting that it was “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal” and a “blunder.” More than his mere embarrassment for what some deemed to be a feeble attempt at cheating, Tomlin seemed genuinely upset at the notion that he may have undermined the integrity of the game. Read more here.It's too bad that football coaches seem better at humbly acknowledging their mistakes than evangelical leaders. Yet, there are several evangelical leaders who have earned my respect in controversial circumstances. They do this when they stop what they are doing, humble themselves, admit their wrong, and then seek to repair in appropriate ways. I love them because those moment of repentance are the most beautiful gospel moments to me. What better outcome of the gospel is there in this life (because there are all kinds of good outcomes in the life to come) than the fact that it equips us to face our sin head on and DEAL WITH IT?! We don't have to circle the wagons in defensiveness. We can lay down our pride. We no longer operate in a paradigm in which we will be destroyed by humbling ourselves.
These moments of public mistakes are profound moments to live out this good news we preach. I just don't understand why an NFL coach seems better at understanding this than gospel preaching evangelical leaders.