As I sat in my office in my new position as a business consultant, I began setting appointments with the 40 entrepreneurs I would now be assisting as their coach and mentor. I was fortunate to have already developed good relationships with these business owners; well, all but one anyway. This person had somehow become a rival – even an enemy.
We had clashed on several occasions over a fifteen-year period. But in spite of all my recent efforts, I could not remember what started the feud. I just knew he was unreasonable and I was a great guy. But now I had this dilemma: I was his business consultant and I had a responsibility to assist him on a regular basis.
As his phone was ringing, I rehearsed one more time what I was about to say. When he answered I broke into my explanation for the call. I admitted I had no idea what started our dislike for each other; but for any and every time I had offended him, I apologized and I asked him to forgive me. Following a long 30 or 40 seconds of silence, he genuinely accepted my apology and immediately offered one of his own.
The ice was broken; the bad blood disappeared and we were then able to have a professional relationship from that moment on.
As Christian business professionals, we take daily steps to be the “light of Christ” in our world of work. We don’t lie, we don’t steal or cheat; we treat others the way we want to be treated. At least, we do it most of the time. I have found one area, however, which sometimes seems to trip us up. It is the virtue of forgiving others.
- Each day we face competitors who exaggerate the value of their products.
- We find customers who don’t always tell the truth, or they treat us with little respect.
- We find petty jealously among our peers and co-workers, which ignites negative feelings and leaves us hurt and sometimes devastated.
- Finally, if you are an employer, nothing stings quite so much as when one of your associates takes advantage of your kindness.
Jesus taught us that our best response is one of forgiveness. He explained how often we are to forgive – seventy times seven (in other words – we are to infinitely forgive). (Mt. 18:22) In addition, he gave us the model of how we are to approach forgiving others. He said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:39) St. Paul said: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14)
The pattern of forgiveness has been set.
We are to forgive others in the same manner we would like to be forgiven. While society has a different model, we know we are to live in the world but not be of the world.
Today and in the future, let’s free ourselves of the worldly formula of forgiveness and practice God’s way of offering pardon and absolution.
In every situation, let’s love our neighbor (co-worker, customer, vendor, employee) as ourselves. Let’s generously offer our forgiveness to everyone who offends and find new methods to inspire and even support their efforts to change their ways.
Like Jesus, let’s be different from the prevailing culture and freely offer our forgiveness and supportive reassurance. For most of us, it is exactly how we would want to be treated. And as we reap what we sow, we’ll find joy in our business as customers, competitors, vendors, and our own team can begin to forgive us for the foolish mistakes we have made.
How about you? Is there someone out there you have a hard time forgiving? Can you share a story where you either forgave someone or were forgiven by someone, and how it liberated you from the prison that “unforgiveness” creates? Take some time to encourage us with your own experiences by expressing yourself in the comment box below.
About Mike Van Vranken
Mike Van Vranken is a writer, speaker, retreat leader, and teacher. Following forty years of leading, coaching and developing business owners, Mike founded Mike Van Vranken Ministries to fulfill his passion to bring Jesus to the world around him. He brings his experiences as a mentor, leader, speaker, coach and entrepreneur to provide teaching and spiritual leadership to all who are interested. His dream is to deliver the teachings of Jesus to women and men, old and young, poor and rich, people of every background and diversity – to the entire body of Christ.
He holds a Masters Degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas.
He and Barbara, his wife of 42 years, live in Shreveport, LA.
Discover more about Mike at: www.mikevanvrankenministries.org as well as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google.