One of the marks of resiliency in any environment is the willingness to be gracious and forgive. In other words, lack of forgiveness is a major cause of attrition.
I often say that it is not a matter of if I will have to say I’m sorry today, but how often.
We all mess up. Let me say that a little more straight: We all sin relationally. Daily. Period.
“Forgive one another even as God has forgiven you in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 4:32
Recently I was facilitating a training of a room full of fellow caregivers from around the world and multiple organizations. When we looked at the various topics we had addressed in the past 12 months in our work, interpersonal conflict was far and away the most common topic.
There is a mountainous quantity of unresolved conflict out there. You have likely experienced that fact yourself. This reality is undermining the influence of the gospel globally.
How ‘Bout You?
Just ponder for a moment: Who have you been angry with, frustrated, hurt, or otherwise offended by of late? Is your primary desire one of revenge (come on, admit to yourself how you have been fantasizing about giving that person a piece of your mind)? Our sense of justice can be very strong in such instances.
Of course, when the sides are switched and we have been the offender, we can come up with an endless list of defenses that explain our actions. Huh. Peculiar.
You and I have been forgiven an endless stream of sinful acts.
We are a forgiven people.
Our God is a forgiving God.
We are to forgive others in the same manner we have been forgiven.
Yes, I understand the complexity of some situations – abuses, neglects, traumatic offronts. I am referring to the day-in-day-out relational stuff that is inhibiting our teams and communities around the world. If you are a MK/TCK specialist I am sure you see the family impact on this subject as well. Lack of forgiveness is hitting marriages and kids hard too.
Then we follow that up with these words, “I forgive you.” It staggers me how hard it is to say those three words sometimes.
Sure, often the offense recycles in us. So I pray about it. The key is to ask God to shape a gracious and forgiving heart and posture toward others.
This is Huge
Without us deliberately leaning into this issue of forgiveness, the impact will remain. The impact is on two fronts:
First, followers of Jesus will miss out on an essential opportunity to model the reality of a gracious, loving, forgiving God. The gospel is undermined. The world longs to see forgiveness lived out in real time and real life.
Second, unresolved conflict will remain a primary factor in attrition amongst global workers.
Shepherds, How art Thou?
Obviously, we shepherds must live this. We cannot do this on our own. Grace is a Person. Forgiving is a supernatural act. We need Jesus big on this. Seek him. Who do you need to forgive? How will you invite Jesus into that?
As you tend to others, ask what unresolved relational tensions exist. Be a peacemaker. Facilitate unity. Fight for reconciliation.
May the world see a forgiving people of a forgiving God.