The need for forgiveness presupposes that someone hurt or offended you – and they need your forgiveness and grace.
But what if we never got hurt or offended in the first place? Then forgiveness would not even be needed. We could then move past the all-consuming cycle of “hurt and forgive” to the stage of “beyond forgiveness.”
This is a very important topic for all of us as leaders. Let me explain…
The best illustration I can give that we can all relate to is how mothers never need to forgive their children. When they misbehave or act outwardly offensive to them, it seems that for the most part their line of thinking is:
My child is acting this way because:
- They are stressed.
- I was not able to coach them better.
- They are tired.
(It is never because “they are a bad person.”)
I heard an exaggerated illustration once that highlights this point – “A mother heard that her son just killed another person. Her first response was, ‘He must have been having a bad day.’”
Mothers think of their children as eternally GOOD, but they do bad things because they cannot help it or because they don’t know better.
Wow! Did you catch that?
I just said it – this is the kernel of truth that has the power to release you from the bondage of hurt and hate.
Seeing everyone as good but occasionally doing bad things because they are weak or don’t know better has completely revolutionized my life.
When I make this point, I usually get these questions:
- What about consequences?
- What about accountability?
- What about the concept of evil?
Great questions and all totally appropriate. Here is how I view it…
When we look at others with the view that “they are good, but do bad things,” it does not mean that we don’t hold them accountable or that they should not pay the price for mistakes. But what it does mean is that your heart can continue to love them.
As for the concept of evil and that there are “bad people” out there, I think about this differently. I think “evil” or “bad people” simply have a profound weakness of character. By saying this I do not mean to diminish the gravity of heinous acts, or decrease how much we should oppose these actions or hold those responsible who commit them.
A person that commits mass murder in my opinion should be dealt with severely according to the laws of the land. However, this same person should be honored as a human being, and viewed as a weak person who “went wrong” and not as an evil person to be reviled.
If we are able to do that, we will not hate him. On the other hand, we will love him and help him.
This principle is immensely applicable to us as leaders.
As we lead people, our actions toward them will mirror how we feel about them. When we feel that they are good, we will be able to empower them so much more, because in our heart of hearts we believe in them.
As I have come to this point in my own growth journey, I have accumulated a few commitments to help me stay focused on staying in the “beyond forgiveness” zone and away from the “hurt-forgive” cycle.
This takes continual work and reminding. To that end, I read these on a regular basis. I want to share these with you because they help keep my heart in the right place – I hope it will help you.
Join me in saying these things to the person who hurt you, to the people you lead, and to any fellow human being. (I will also share more on each one of these in subsequent blogs.)
I will never make you feel small.
I will celebrate the Divine in you.
I will celebrate you and not tolerate you.
I will work hard to make you feel capable and smart.
I will embrace the bad side and the good side in you.
Like me, you are looking for happiness, meaning and significance.
If I don’t like you, I must get to know you.
I will value you by your best moments.
Since the air transmits what we feel, I will honor you in thought and speech.
I know you don’t think you’re bad.
We are all bad but in different things. You’re the garlic but I’m the onions – we both stink.
I will look at your weakness with compassion not accusation
You have hurt me only to protect yourself; I will not take anything personally.
And when you hurt me, I know you are weak and incapable to will yourself to do better.
I may set boundaries and hold you accountable, but will always love you and aim to help you.
Friend, we spend so much of our emotional energy in life being hurt.
It’s time to be released from it so we use our time and effort in our remaining days making an impact on others, instead of being consumed with our emotional wounds.
I believe that you can!