The video clips were a good way of demonstrating the advantages of forgiveness. The frequent recap of the key points solidified those points in the memory. Jon has a good clear teaching style. I don’t really have any suggestions here as the course was informative, interactive and well-organised – nothing to improve in my view! [from a City Law Firm]

The previous (public) Forgiveness@Work seminar was:

  • on Saturday 18 January 2020,
  • from 10.00 to 13.00,
  • at All Saints House, 83 Margaret Street (Entrance via Marylebone Passage), London W1W 8TB.
  • Nearest underground station: Oxford Circus.
  • Entry was free; but
  • please register your interest for future events here: contact@breadofhope.org.uk.
  • Doors opened at 0930 for light refreshments.

Forgiveness@Work is derived from The Relationships Course, which was delivered to respective departments within Schroders and Man Group during the noughties. (At one point it also served as a module on the Birmingham Business School MBA syllabus.)

In addition to its grounding in the psychology and theology of forgiveness, Forgiveness@Work also provides opportunities for participants to engage with the Bible.

“[The seminar] proved to be very popular at BP’s Sunbury campus.”

“[The seminar] proved to be very popular at BP’s Sunbury campus. A number of people attending the course were having issues with relationships at work and needed the help to address unforgiveness. The material was really thought-provoking and inspired us to a new approach to forgiveness – to be a witness (to the Good News) and to invite change in ourselves and others. It involved interaction but also gave individuals a chance to work through issues in private.”

Despite its heritage in the workplace, Forgiveness@Work also has relevance to life outside of work. And despite its heritage in the Christian Faith, Forgiveness@Work is also accessible to those with no faith at all.

Forgiveness is not making someone pay when we are wronged. It cancels the debt they owe us to right that wrong.

Forgiveness is not making someone pay when we are wronged. It cancels the debt they owe us to right that wrong.* Forgiveness also has multiple dimensions.** Whereas forgiveness might remain something private – something that we do “under our skin”, forgiveness can also be communicated. (But it can take wisdom to know if, when and how.) So forgiveness has both “intra-” and “inter-personal” dimensions.

When communicated, forgiveness helps people to be worthy by inviting change. We can invite worthiness in our relationships. In this way, we can offer up or dedicate our relationships to God. This fulfils our “priestly” calling to perfect creation. Sometimes this is called “the creation mandate”. We are called to add worth to the world in innumerable ways. We can do so by turning one thing into another: grapes into wine; grain into bread; wilderness into garden;*** finances into spreadsheets; even grief into growth. We can also turn less than worthy relationships into something better when we invite worthiness.

If this is what forgiveness is, then there are many things that forgiveness is not. The things that forgiveness is not serve to structure the seminar.

  • Forgiveness does not deny the past. Forgiveness is not (necessarily) forgetting.****
  • Forgiveness does not deny feelings. (Anger can be a galvanising agent of change.)*****
  • Forgiveness does not deny time. (It takes time for anger “against” someone to become anger “for” positive change.)
  • Forgiveness does not deny justice. It does not deny duty of care. (So it does not negate workplace grievance procedure, which can provide the channels for forgiveness to flow. Therefore, there is a duty of care to make sure that such procedures are in place).******
  • Forgiveness does not deny boundaries. (Forgiveness is not reconciliation.)*******

This seminar is facilitated by Jon, who has a certificate in counselling and a background in marketing. It consists of 5 x 30-minute sessions (which make it ideal for Christian Workplace Groups to run over lunchtime).

  • I. Forgiveness: Past and Feelings – forgiveness is not making someone pay when we are wronged. It cancels the debt they owe us to right that wrong. It does not deny the past, and it does not deny feelings.
  • II. Forgiveness: Time and Justice – forgiveness does not deny time and it does not deny justice.
  • III. Justice: Three-Fold Assertion Messages – if justice means making right, then three-fold assertion messages invite justice insofar as they invite change.
  • IV. Justice: Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures – if forgiveness is like a liquid, then grievance and disciplinary procedures can be the channels of justice that help it to flow.
  • V. Forgiveness: Boundaries – forgiveness does not deny boundaries.

* See, for example, Roy F. Baumeister, Julie Juola Exline, and Kristin L. Sommer, ‘The Victim Role, Grudge Theory, and Two Dimensions of Forgiveness’ in Everett L. Worthington, ed., Dimensions of Forgiveness: Psychological Research and Theological Perspectives (Radnor: Templeton Foundation Press, 1987), 82.
** ibid. 85f. There are not only different dimensions of forgiveness, but different varieties altogether. ‘We should now refer to “forgivenesses”, to alert us to the variety of forms that forgiveness can take, and not speak of “forgiveness”, as if we are referring to one phenomenon that always takes the same form …’ Anthony Bash, Just Forgiveness: Exploring the Bible, Weighing the Issues (London: SPCK, 2011), 38.
*** Genesis 1-2.
**** 1 Corinthians 13:5; John 20:24-31; Jeremiah 31:34; Genesis 8:1.
***** Ephesians 4:26; see also Tim Keller, Forgive: Why Should I And How Can I? (London: Hodder, 2022), 184-185.
****** Justice can also make it easier to forgive, Everett L. Worthington, A Just Forgiveness: Responsible Healing without Excusing Injustice (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009), 87-88.
******* Tim Keller, Forgive: Why Should I And How Can I? (London: Hodder, 2022), 9 (final paragraph).