Forgiveness in the Workplace?
First, we recognize the disruptive situation that interferes with collaboration, and assess the impact on quality care. When we experience unkind and hateful situations, we may want to retreat, or ignore the behavior, hoping it will go away and not turn into aggression or backlashing. Instead, we can confront individuals with Christian caring or carefronting. Carefronting is described as “a process of honest professional communication focused on respecting the importance of interpersonal relationships and work-related situations” (Kupperschmidt, 2008).
Second, we recognize the importance of forgiveness in maintaining and restoring collegial relationships. Forgiveness includes letting go of anger, blaming, and avoidance. The importance of forgiveness is not just a practice to bring reconciliation and healing, while opening our hearts to kindness and love (Luskin, 2010). Rather, as Christians, forgiveness is a spiritual act of obedience and worship.
As forgiven people, our prayers generally include reverence for God's name, submission to his authority, security in his protection from evil, and repentance from our imperfect life (Matthew 6:9-15). Seeking forgiveness from God is only one step of our repentance. Mark 11:25 states, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (NIV).
If there are those whom we have not forgiven when praying the beloved Lord's Prayer, then “we are asking God not to restore a right relationship with us after we sin, in just the same way as we have refused to do so with others” (Grudem, 1994, p. 386). When we share the gift of mercy and grace with others, we release the hurt and open hearts for peace and strength found through Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:12-17).
With a recognition of forgiveness as part of a collegial response, we can move to prayer and humility. Incorporating these small steps makes a big difference.
Remember, God is working within each of us as new creations and maturing disciples of Christ. I believe he uses our workplace as a potter's wheel (Romans 9:21). The author and perfecter of our faith is molding, forming, and removing the unwanted or tarnished areas of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Finally, forgiveness is not an acceptance of incivility in the workplace. The situation and/or persons may require the attention of administration or management. Instead, forgiveness brings difficult workplace issues to our heavenly Father, seeking his wisdom and strength, while depending on his peace and grace.