Forgiveness and reconciliation are powerful tools for leaders to understand and practice. Without forgiveness, there are only perpetrators and victims.
I learned a powerful lesson about forgiveness a number of years ago. My church went through a painful leadership transition when I was the chair of our board. Those members who disagreed with the board’s decision made their feelings known. I was confronted on more than one occasion and a few persons even left the church because they couldn’t accept what happened.
Life moved on and I largely forgot the pain of this particular experience. I was no longer on the board and the church was prospering under new leadership. Several years later an unexpected visitor showed up at my office. It was one of the members who had disagreed and left the church. What do you think happened?
They had come to apologize and ask for my forgiveness. Even though I had moved on from the original situation, this person wanted to restore our relationship. My willingness to forgive was a blessing to both of us. It also taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget.
Forgiveness breaks through the patterns and illusions we hold about each other and our world. When we extend grace and mercy to the person who offends us the most, we create something new. Instead of punishment we can focus on healing. Instead of being a victim we can feel liberation and love.