This past week I had a great meeting with the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent of the local public school system (which includes about 1000 teachers and staff). They wanted my input as they are reviewing the objectives and long range plans for the district for the next 3 to 5 years. I’d been invited to take part in a two-day planning retreat, but my schedule wouldn’t allow it. So, we settled for this shorter, personal meeting. We had a very constructive interchange. I highly respect these men for their desire to address concerns in the community in their planning.
Two themes stood out in our discussion. One was the need for a spirit of forgiveness rather than hostility. Our nation is being torn by bitter attacks between various factions. Young people are seeing adults model behavior that seeks to capitalize on the weak points of others and effectively destroy them. Forgiveness is a foreign notion in such a climate. Yet, without forgiveness, there can be no true reconciliation, no unity and no peace. Young and old alike could greatly benefit from learning how to show genuine forgiveness.
A second theme that arose was the need for commitment. Along with forgiveness, we must each make a commitment to move beyond past hurts. Where we have hurt others, we need to be committed to moving away from such failure in the future. Where others have hurt us, we are to forgive and then be committed to helping them move beyond their failure. Such commitment doesn’t just ignore hurts, but it addresses them in a constructive manner.
The school officials agreed that our community could, indeed, benefit from greater forgiveness and commitment. Of course, they can’t talk about forgiveness in the name of Jesus in the way that I can. But, they can still apply some valuable lessons that Jesus taught. That’s good for the community. And, so is having such constructive discussions between school and church leaders.