Within the workplace we are conditioned to act in the interest of self-preservation, which manifests in various actions or behavioral patterns. Consider a situation in which a client or colleague has offended you. How do you interact with your offender without feeling your body temperature rising, an after taste at the back of your throat, anger and/or resentment? Do you just pronounce your offender as “crazy” and try to “keep it moving”? Do you avoid your offender like the plague? Do you vow never to do business or a project with them again? In my past experience, as much as I thought I had forgiven my offenders, there was always that lingering emotional pain or resentment that towards them. For example, I had a male colleague that told me that if I did not agree with his suggestion in a meeting, it would be a “career limiting move”. I felt so embarrassed and angry that he could be so condescending and make such a statement in front of my colleagues (at the time) that I carried resentment towards him for years. One day, I had a conversation with him in an “act of forgiveness” and from that day onwards I thought that I had forgiven him. I was wrong.
Trying to forget but not forgiving was career limiting
I really did not understand what forgiveness was. In my mind, trying to forget the incident, was forgiveness. However, every time my ex- colleague’s name was mentioned or I was reminded of him, I would have a dolphins smile while internally cringing and declaring him “crazy” or a “hater”. In addition and with much effort, I would also avoid contact with people that we had in common, both in a professional and personal capacity. I therefore declined many opportunities to advance my career presented by ex-colleagues and “kept it moving”. I believe that within the human psyche, nothing that is hidden remains hidden forever. As much as I thought I was “keeping it moving”, I was limiting my career and blocking my blessings to the nth degree.
Forgiveness is in our DNA
“So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” – Genesis 1:26 (King James Version)
As Christians, we tend to embrace some parts of our Christian identities and attempt to not focus on others. For example, I was and am patient, kind but when it came forgiving……….it was much easier to forget, until further notice! Through much introspection, I found out that forgiveness is essential to living abundantly. It is therefore a necessity and not a luxury. Jesus says in Matthew 5: 22-24 (King James version):
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
We cannot expect to grow as Christians, if we do not forgive. As difficult as the idea of forgiving might sound, we are created in God’s image and this means that we inherently have the ability to forgive. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (King James Version) states:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
In addition to the ability to forgive, God has placed within us the ministry of reconciliation. According to Bakers Evangelical dictionary of Theology, reconciliation assumes that there has been a breakdown in relationship between man and man but now the relationship has moved from a state of hostility or animosity to harmony and fellowship . I believe that forgiveness is a precursor to reconciliation. We know that we have forgiven or are forgiven, when our relationship with our offender has changed from that of active or passive aggression to one of friendliness and being amicable. Is it possible that we cannot fully access and practice the ministry of reconciliation, if we haven’t forgiven our offenders?
Deciding to forgive
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Women generally tend to function on the basis of their emotional state (we rule with our hearts). As a result, we treat forgiveness as an emotion as opposed to a decision. The reality is that once you have made the decision to forgive, you will still have the emotions associated with forgiveness like anger and resentment. In my quest to understand forgiveness and reconciliation I have found that what is essential is:
1. To remind yourself of your decision to forgive every time you feel angry or resentful.
2. To pray to God about your feelings towards those that you are struggling to forgive. It is important to trust that God shall provide you with peace and guidance to reconcile with the person (or people) in question.
3. To pray for those that you are struggling to forgive.
4. To take responsibility for any way you might have contributed to your offenders actions. The Holy Spirit convicts us of wrong doing, apologize to your offender if you were wrong in your actions towards them.
5. To remind yourself and your offender of the “good times”.
When offended in the workplace, we often tend to forget or ignore the positive influence the offender has had towards our career. You do not have to be BFF’s with your offender, but credit needs to be given where it is due.
Finally, it is very important for us to understand and meditate on forgiveness. Without this, I would not have been able to eventually forgive my ex-colleague. I don’t feel any of the anger and resentment towards him and don’t think “crazy” or “hater” every time I hear his name. Furthermore, I am in touch and have done some projects with mutual acquaintances and industry peers. We aren’t BFF’s, but we are definitely amicable and moving towards complete reconciliation.
Apart from reading the Bible, listening to sermons on forgiveness can be useful. I encourage you to obtain transcripts or recordings. My favourite are Joyce Meyer, Joseph Price and Bishop TD Jakes. Forgiveness is liberating. If you have issues with forgiveness, I encourage you to change you current approach. The positive difference it shall make in your career and personal life will be mind blowing!
Proverbs 27:17 states that: “iron sharpens iron”. I am keen to learn from your experience with forgiveness lack thereof in the workplace. Leave a comment or question on this page, Twitter, the Top Women for God Facebook page or LinkedIn group to get the conversation going and bless others with your testimony too.
About the Author
Gladys Chandia is a project manager and co-founder of Notable Beginnings Consulting (NBC). NBC provides business development and business linkages (FDI facilitation) services for companies that wish to penetrate new markets on the African continent. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org