Wednesday, April 15, 2009

does forgiveness have legs?

I sat with a workplace group today. I had been asked to spend two hours addressing the topic of Managing conflict positively, and to cover negotiation, mediation. We got to the topic of forgiveness and the question was asked. “Does forgiveness have a place in the workplace?” Great question. We bounced it around the group for a while. Some said yes, others no.

Then I went fishing. I asked them if they had ever seen forgiveness in their workplaces. (If they had, I was then going to ask if it had a positive or negative effect on the workplace culture, hoping that it was positive and so might address the original question – “Does forgiveness have a place in the workplace?”).


No one could think of an example.

It was a sad silence and I came home pondering the “alleged” Christian Easter message, that God in Christ forgives and reconciles, wondering if any of these people worked alongside Christians, wondering what it will take to give the forgiveness message legs, into our workplaces.

Posted by steve at 06:34 PM


  1. I wonder if part of the problem is that we have so much trouble forgiving ourselves (especially as Christians). Once we learn and practice forgiving ourselves (as Christ has done for us) we may find it easier to forgive others.

    Comment by Christina — April 16, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  2. I think you’re right Christina. I’ve just preached a 3 week series on forgiveness and I started with forgiveness and us. Not so much forgiving ourselves though, more how we deal with the shame around hurt. There’s a fabolous video clip I used of the Samaritan woman encountering Jesus and how that changes her self-perception. Which I linked with being “in Christ” and the atonement as giving us a new identity, which is essential to the forgiveness project. People seemed to find it helpful, esp as we turned the next week to the topic of forgiving our enemies,


    Comment by steve — April 16, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  3. I loved this reference; people at work don’t forgive one another. Neither do neighbors. Often times Christians are the worst of all: they know all about it, but don’t do it.

    Thanks for this essay.

    Comment by Phil Henry — April 20, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  4. I ‘stumbled’ on this discussion, having preached on forgiveness this morning – addressing the gospel passage from the lectionary, the phrase that stood out for me was ‘in his name repentance and forgiveness of sins must be procalimed to the nations'(Luke 24:47). Actually I didn’t really preach – I told the story of Tarore’s gospel and the forgiveness that was proclaimed through it, in Rotorua, in Otaki, and then down the length of the South Island. It is a powerful story of forgiveness changing people – and it’s ours, right here in Aotearoa! I had quoted Robert Capon – ‘the church is not in the morals business – the church is in the forgiveness business’ and asked what that might look like in our church community.
    So if your forgiveness series was accessible somewhere, Steve, I’d love to read it!

    Comment by Anne Thomson — April 27, 2009 @ 12:08 am

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