Each one of us that works in a nonprofit or church setting knows that our organizations have a great capacity to do incredible good. And yet, every organization – even those focused on serving others – will sometimes, however unintentionally, cause hurt and pain to others. That fact shouldn’t surprise us. Each one of us is imperfect, broken, and sinful. And, in our organizations, we get to work and interact every day with other imperfect, broken, sinful people!
That’s why forgiveness is an essential component of any healthy organization. Forgiveness needs to be ingrained into the organization’s culture, modeled by the leadership, and embraced and practiced by everyone. It’s not easy – sometimes forgiving another person needs to be a conscious, daily decision!
Of course, forgiving does not mean that we don’t tackle problems, poor performance, or unacceptable behaviours. These are all issues that we must address, and these often have consequences.
Yet healthy leadership is unsustainable without practicing forgiveness. Otherwise, the hurts accumulate and drag us down. Four “promises of forgiveness” which I have found helpful during times of conflict are:
I will not allow bitterness to grow in my life as a result of this issue.
I will not bring up this issue again and again or use it against you.
I will not talk to others about this issue because gossip destroys relationships.
I will not allow this issue to hinder our personal relationship.
Look for the best in others, giving them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Forgive when you need to. And recognize that there are times when you will need forgiveness too.
As Ephesians 4:32 says: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”
Forgiveness can be hard to do. Yet, it is critical, not just for our benefit but for our colleagues and those we serve. Let’s ensure that forgiveness is part of our organization’s culture, embraced and practiced by everyone!