Conflict with coworkers is painful. The sting can be real with supervisors, clients, even remote business contacts. We’ve all felt wronged, haunted by hurts and hang-ups. We easily become embittered.
Deep down, we know forgiveness is the golden key. But like illusive treasure, forgiveness can be utterly difficult to discover. When facing rifts and wrangles in business, we might dub forgiveness unimportant. The old adage goes, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.”
Why is pursuing and extending forgiveness truly important?
Forgiveness is a Historic Precedent & Modern Necessity
The need for reconciliation is humanity’s age-old struggle, as old as Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gen. 1-3). The first sin led immediately to animosity and ugly quarreling. The blame game ensued; they needed to find forgiveness with one another and with their Creator. Fortunately, God initiated; he came looking for them and started his grand story toward forgiveness and restoration.
Finding forgiveness is of timely importance. Our current cultural season is littered with ugliness, division, warring words and actions. We have seen it through global strife and rotten residue from fractious politics and the pandemic. History was never easy; our modern age is an extra-punctuated time with extra-punchy people. We find ourselves needing to live in forgiveness more than ever.
Forgiveness is Healthy
We all have hurts and heartaches we’re working through. However, seeking forgiveness is essential to our overall well-being. Our emotional and physical health depend on it. A health article by Johns Hopkins Medicine posits:
Whether it’s a simple spat with your spouse or long-held resentment toward a family member or friend, unresolved conflict can go deeper than you may realize—it may be affecting your physical health. The good news: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
We know forgiveness is good for us, like fruits and veggies. Such recognition doesn’t necessarily mean we’re good at actualizing it. However, knowing the health benefits of forgiveness is a solid starting point.
Forgiveness is Jesus-like
Our Creator wants forgiveness to be at the core of our character reformation in Christ’s likeness. Originally made in his marvelous image (Gen. 1:27), humans reflect God’s:
- Giving character
- Generative skill
- Goodness in royal crafting
- Skill to love and lead well in order to help the world flourish.
Sadly, these God-like qualities became cursed, marred, and train-wrecked that day in Eden (Gen. 3). It’s why our human story looks, sounds, and smells pungent like a dumpster fire.
Here’s why we so desperately need Jesus and restoration in his likeness. 2 Corinthians 4:4 spotlights “Christ, who is the image of God.”
Are you passionate to know what God really looks like? Want to see and hear his heartbeat and actions for you, your coworkers, clients, and workplace? Look at Christ Jesus! In Colossians 1:15, Paul holistically declares: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.”
When teaching about prayer in Mark 11:25, Jesus instructed: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Forgiven People Forgive People
Conflict feels overwhelming, so we’re tempted to dance around Jesus’ challenge. We try to dismiss and dismantle it. We try theological gymnastics to explain it away. But Jesus’ words mean exactly what they sound like. These are holy, high-bar, crazy-difficult words. He calls us to fully follow him, his forgiving heart, and actions.
Perhaps you say, “Then I’m doomed; I’ve been so unforgiving. Other people are so horrible. I really can’t find my way toward reconciling.”
Take a deep breath. That makes two of us, or rather twenty gazillion of us. It’s why Jesus went to the cross. He’s all about forgiveness. That’s why we come back to his cross and recall: forgiven people forgive people.
Christ took our sin, shame, and all the vile treachery of the heinous hecklers and surly soldiers. He cried these words: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We must return to the cross constantly, because we struggle to forgive.
Leadership & Christ’s Cross
Across my years in leadership, I’ve taken a lot of hits. Every leader knows the pain. I’ve had people say rude, caustic things directly to me. I’ve heard from others how much people disagree with or dislike me. I’ve gotten zinger e-mails. I’ve been ghosted, gossiped, grumbled, and griped about.
We can all relate to Donkey’s famous declaration to Shrek: “You cut me deep, you cut me real deep.” Christ’s words on the cross can provide our game-changing outlook. “Father, forgive them.” I’ve never hung on a cross; neither have you. Jesus did, and when we are feeling the internal turmoil and wrestling with how to forgive, we can come back to his own heart and example. Through Jesus’ redeeming work, we are being remade in his image.
Forgiveness Belongs in Your Business
Though it may be difficult to fathom, mercy makes good sense in the marketplace. Ponder these reflections from Raymond Harris:
Forgiveness and mercy are integral parts of a successful business. I have noticed that unforgiving and unmerciful individuals can become stiff-necked, hard to deal with, and prideful. We cannot afford to be that way, because that is not the kind of personality most clients want to deal with. Nor do employees like this attitude in employers. Striving to be merciful and forgiving makes a business successful as it gives employees and clients security and confidence.
Here’s why we must daily come back to Jesus—to his stunning, merciful work on the cross and his lavish love.
Do you believe that Jesus has fully forgiven you? His mercy flows to us so it can flow through us. Remember, forgiven people forgive people.