I continue to be amazed at the communication skills of my pup, Louie. For not speaking a word, he is capable of relaying so many messages. His body language expresses happiness, playfulness, fear, anxiety and the most important – love.
Some time ago when we had a break in the winter weather, Louie and I took a long walk and enjoyed the fresh air, even though it was still quite cold. We went through our usual routine when we returned home; taking my boots off in the garage, wiping his feet, and having him come into the kitchen to sit on the area rug for a minute while I remove my coat, etc. He does really well with this process and is very patient.
I went on with my workday and after a few minutes, I wondered why he had not followed me as he usually does. I came back into the kitchen and there was Louie, sitting perfectly still right by the garage door. I had forgotten to take off his leash and the handle was caught in the door. Rather than bark, fuss and prance around…he waited and waited. There was no look of anxiousness. In fact, his big brown eyes looked at me as if to say, “No worries, Mom. I forgive you!”
I know he’s a dog and his life isn’t as complicated as a human’s. But one of the reasons Louie and most other dogs have uncomplicated lives is because they don’t harbor grudges. They aren’t weighed down by resentments like many of us. Even if they are abused, most dogs quickly forgive. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from that.
For those of us who seek to be servant leaders, forgiveness must be at the top of the list of characteristics and qualifications. A pattern of broken relationships and constant grudges are a red flag and a sign that something needs to change. Here are some things to consider if you see a pattern of unforgiveness or holding on to resentments:
- It’s not about you! A leader must be other focused. When we make a mistake or hurt someone and it is brought to light, we must own our behavior and ask for forgiveness. A good leader doesn’t seek to justify her mistakes.
- 2. When someone else has made a mistake and it costs us productivity, time or hurt feelings, the most freeing thing we can do for all parties involved is to forgive. Flippantly saying, “Oh I forgive them in my heart,” but then seething inside, and sharing the offense with everyone over and over again, only leads to self-imprisonment. Over time, this will cause physical, mental and spiritual harm.
- 3. Work hard to not offend anyone while never compromising truth. Learn to communicate truthfully with a heart filled with love. Then when an incident occurs—and it will—it becomes easier to immediately forgive.
God has taught me this lesson through his forgiveness of my many sins. I am grateful that He continually forgives me through my relationship with Jesus. And every time I look into Louie’s eyes I see, “You are loved and forgiven, Mom!” Indeed I am, Louie! Indeed I am!