(or those who think bad about you. This is a message from Today God is First by Francois de Fenelon in his book 100 Days in the Secret Place.)
You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:43-46).
If you are a leader you will have conflict sooner or later. How you manage conflict will determine how good of a leader you will be. Jesus handled conflict in many different ways. Sometimes he confronted the issue head-on, other times He ignored the accusation and went on His way. Sometimes He chose to wash the feet of those who attacked Him.
Dr. Martin Luther King, father of the United States civil rights movement modeled conflict management in the following way:
"On Christmas Day, 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was based on this passage and the sermon title was, 'Loving Your Enemy.' Through the course of his sermon, Dr. King suggested three ways by which we can do just that.
First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. Such forgiveness doesn't mean that we ignore the wrong committed against us. Rather it means that we will no longer allow the wrong to be a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness, according to King, 'is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.'
Second, we must recognize that the wrong we've suffered doesn't entirely represent the other person's identity. We need to acknowledge that our opponent, like each one of us, possesses both bad and good qualities. We must choose to find the good and focus on it.
Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate our opponent, but to win his or her friendship and understanding. Such an attitude flows not from ourselves, but from God as his unconditional love works through us.
As followers of Christ who seek to lead as He led, we must remember that the more freely we forgive, the more clearly we reveal the nature of our Heavenly Father."*
Today, be proactive about forgiving those who have been the source of pain in your life.