Remember The #2 Principle of Management…Radical Forgiveness
Forgiveness and hope are inseparably linked ideas. Without hope, it is impossible to forgive someone. Finding the courage to extend forgiveness to someone in the workplace can be tough. Especially when the person who has wronged you shows no remorse. Without forgiveness, however, we can find ourselves growing resentful and bitter.
So how do we guard ourselves against this nasty cycle?
In this post, I want to give you a follow-up to my post on the #1 Principle of Management. That post introduced the Christian concept of Total Depravity and how it practically impacts our everyday lives. We can’t only operate on that first principle alone! Otherwise, we would fall into despair. We have to balance both together to understand how God’s redemptive plan works.
My Nightmare Dream Job
So to illustrate this point, let me share with you a very tough season for my wife and I.
Years ago I convinced myself that my “dream job” would be to work for a seminary and launch a new innovative online learning model. When the opportunity presented itself, I immediately jumped at the chance. However, within a few months of my arrival, I found myself in the middle of an organizational nightmare.
Petty agendas, interpersonal conflict, and political infighting compounded by scarce resources led to toxic work conditions. Within six months, I was tired, depressed, and angry.
What had gone so bitterly wrong? Without realizing it, in my quest to succeed, I had alienated some and absorbed the organizational culture. That led to my eventual downfall and dismissal.
After being fired, I left feeling hurt, betrayed, and extremely humiliated. And consequently, I noticed bitterness began creeping into my mind.
My termination devastated me for months. I was angry and found myself unable to let go. But then this thought came to mind. Why did I expect anything more? Organizations are made up of people, broken sinners who bounce off each others dysfunction. We are broken people, with broken agendas, doing and saying broken things.
That’s when I realized I had to find the courage to forgive.
Responding in Grace
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he makes a startling statement, we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies, (8:23). His point is explicit. While in this world, we are in a constant tension between our reality and the promised hope. Only when the end of the world has come will we be finally free from the dysfunction of this world. In the meantime, we have to find a way forward in this temporal yet divided existence.
Radical grace requires finding strength and courage to tell yourself and perhaps your co-worker, “I forgive you.” That doesn’t mean you become instant friends, but it does require no longer holding them to a standard of perfection. We are imperfect people caught up in an imperfect world. Once we accept that reality, we can be free to move forward with humble confidence.
What does forgiveness look like?
In the workplace, let me just offer this observation. Whenever you intentionally disadvantage someone else to advantage yourself, you have failed and probably hurt someone in the process. Resisting that temptation will, in the long run, lead to a more satisfying life and better workplace environment.