A friend said to me recently that he didn't know any Christian training course that included training on how to forgive. I suspect there may not be any (except Living Leadership's Formation trainees course!!)
Here are a few principles on making forgiveness real in our lives. Particularly on leading with a forgiving heart, but with wider application than leadership. They are completely not original to me, I got them from John Risbridger, senior pastor of Above Bar Church in Southampton:
- Never use public ministry to sound off about how you are being treated
- Confide in one or two godly people who you trust but who will genuinely want to help you be godly (ie won't just affirm you in everything you already think or the pain you are feeling)
- Express you anger freely to God - read the Psalms!
- Be brutal with yourself in recognising the biblical responsibility to be reconciled with fellow Christians who have hurt you. Don't assume it is someone else's responsibility
- Be generous in the assessment of others' motives and brutally honest about your own. Never assume you can read the motives of other people. Don't assume bad motives from what you perceive as bad behavour
- Recognise the strength of meekness as an opportunity to follow Christ and glorify God. "When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate...but entrusted himself to him who judges justly." 1 Peter 2:23
- Never lose faith in God's sovereignty
- If you are being proud God is against you; if you are being humble he will give you grace (1 Peter 5:5)
- Forgiveness includes "not telling what they did" (R.T.Kendall)
And one more comment from Jonathan Edwards who saw criticism as an opportunity to seek God. Don't call each other dirty names:
Those that have been zealous for the work [the Great revivals of Edwards time] and have erred greatly and been injurious with their zeal, ought not to be treated with bitterness. There is abundant reason to think that most of them are dear children of God, for whom Christ died. Their errors should not be used to excite indignation against them, but should influence all who hope we are children of God to humble ourselves and become more entirely dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ…
And those ministers who have been judged and injuriously dealt with will do the part of Christ’s disciples not to judge and revile [in turn], but to receive such injuries with meekness and forbearance, and making a good improvement of them, more strictly examining their own hearts and ways, and committing themselves to God.
Contrary to this meekness, is each party stigmatizing one another with odious names, as has been done in many parts of New England; which tends greatly to widen and perpetuate the breach
Edwards, "Thoughts on Revival”