Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Over the weekend, our MBA class did a mergers and acquisitions simulation (don’t stop reading, this isn’t boring!) where my team “negotiated” with another team to acquire their “company”. It did not go well. In my real world business experience, all negotiations have taken place in a friendly environment but this environment was anything but. The other team was hostile and critical of my team’s apparent lack of preparation.
During a break in class yesterday (Monday), two of the members of our opponent team approached me during the break to apologize in advance. Another member of their team had been responsible for writing up their negotiation experience and she had turned in what they called an “unnecessarily rude and offensive report.”
I should have been showing gratitude for the heads up but instead, I was incensed. This writer of the review is not well-liked within our program. I’ve made a few (admittedly weak) attempts to extend kindness to her and been rejected. What should I have done? I wish I’d forgiven her and turned the other cheek, remembering the simple yet eloquent verse in Ephesians to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another”. I might have even made a strengthened attempt to show kindness and reach out where others will not. I did not.
We got back from our break to continue to reflect on our negotiation simulation experience. My anger consumed me and I raised my hand to put in my two cents that “Negotiators coming to the table hostile is bad business. You’re not just selling your company, your selling your culture and the way you do business.” I could have stopped there but I didn’t. I went on, “Further, your team should be aligned in your negotiation strategy. It’s unprofessional and ineffective to have a situation where we did where our opponent team had one person acting out. SHE was being incredibly hostile and it turned us off the whole negotiation”. Indicating that it was a “she” tipped off all my classmates/professor to exactly who it was (because of the lack of females in business school, there is only one girl per team).
James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”. This is going to be a hard thing to apologize for, an apology I’ve been making excuses to myself and God to get out of. My guilt was amplified when I received pats on the back from other classmates who thought my comment was witty. I know she doesn’t expect an apology and, if her past attitude toward me is any indication, will likely respond negatively to it. To be honest, these should be even more reasons to face this apology.
Forgiveness isn’t easy when it’s someone you love whom you want to be back on good terms with. When it’s someone whose not an important part of your life or who has been a negative part of your life, it’s even harder. It’s going to be awkward, it might not be well received, and it might even feel unfair.
Right now, I’m praying for the strength to seek forgiveness and to recognize that this in an opportunity to feel and show God’s light even more on this earth. In moments when it’s harder to act as Jesus would but I do it anyways, I can feel God’s grace in abundance.
Update: In my Romans study today, God put Romans 5:3 and James 1: 2-3 in front of me:
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3