Friday, October 5

A Leader’s Call to Forgive

I was blessed this past week to give a talk on Servant Leadership to a class of seminarians who already or are becoming pastors and leaders. I spoke on Servant Leadership using Paul’s “Love Letter” to the church in Corinth. It was definitely a lively and engaging discussion. Thanks to Dr. Robert Zuber for the invitation.

When we came to the principle in Paul’s Letter on forgiveness, well, there we remained for the rest of the session. This is a very touchy issue for many and a sticking point for most, especially those who are in leadership positions. So I wanted to share a few ideas on forgiveness here as it does pertain to being an effective leader.

I conduct a workshop for women called Forgiveness: The Real F Word. It is a popular workshop and a very emotional topic. Wikipedia defines forgiveness as the mental, and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger against another person for a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.

I think the sticking point for many is that forgiving goes hand in hand with forgetting. Well, this simply is not the case. No where in that definition does it speak of forgetting or condoning, for that matter. Our brains are not wired that way. We cannot simply choose to forget an offense or a harm done to us. We can choose to spiritually forget. By that I mean we can choose to not bring up the offense once we have dealt with it. And here, we can deal with it personally or spiritually; especially if the person is no longer living.

When we choose to forgive, we make the conscious choice to set aside feelings of resentment and to not hold onto records of the wrongs. Allowing the offense to come up again and again and again, there is very little chance of setting aside any resentment.

To make this easier, remember a few points:

When someone has wronged me, the chances are great that they did not do it intentionally. We tend to remember the wrongs, but how many right things have they done? Focus on the positive.

When someone has wronged me, the chances are also great that I too have wronged someone inadvertently. I pray that I am forgiven and the offense is not held against me.

When someone has wronged me, the offender is not operating out of a place of love, but of fear. And the place of fear is not where the Divine has called us to be. Pray that the offender can come back into the place of love.

When you choose to forgive, you choose to let go of the burdens or pain and suffering. You choose to free yourself to give more of what you are called to give. You choose to be more loving to those we are called to lead.

I would love your thoughts on your forgiveness journey. And remember, it is a journey. It is a process. One step at a time.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

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