By Mark Riggins
Every time I pull out of the driveway I panic a little bit. Why? I can’t remember if I should go left or right. Seriously. I’m horrible at directions.
My wife has a great sense of directions so I lean on her for help. I have a theory that a “lost” (me) always marries a “found” (my wife).
When I pull out of the driveway I ask my wife, “Which way?” She’ll say something like, “Let’s go down Foothill Road toward downtown.” I’ll respond, “No, right now. Do I go right or left?” (Never mind the fact that Foothill Road is only a block away.)
And it’s not just directions many of us need help with.
According to one national Gallup Poll, 85% of people surveyed said they need help to forgive other people. As I talk to Christians, more and more admit they are struggling with this.
As pastors, we can over-focus on grand truths that are sometimes unhelpful. We say things like:
- “Forgive because Christ forgave you.”
- “Forgive because you’ll be free.”
- “Forgive because God commands it.”
These focus on why instead of how.
You see, my wife is right. Foothill Road will take us downtown. But if I don’t know how to get to Foothill Road that truth is unhelpful.
For many people, forgiveness feels like a vague, dreamland that’s impossible to find.
The message of forgiveness is too important to leave unclear. The message of forgiveness is too important to discuss vaguely. The message of forgiveness is too important to be cliché.
As a pastor, consider these specific steps to help your congregation forgive:
- Share stories of people in your congregation who have overcome hurt and forgave (focus on how they forgave)
- Preach a sermon or series on “how to” forgive
- Offer a forgiveness workshop with practical steps & encouragement
- Provide a list of local counselors
- Suggest a few forgiveness verses to memorize
- Suggest a “how to” forgiveness book
- Offer a forgiveness devotional
Be specific. Be obvious. Be clear. Let’s help people get out of their driveways.
Mark Riggins is the Community Life Pastor at ENCOUNTER | Bible Fellowship Church in Ventura, CA. His new book STUCK When You Want to Forgive but Don’t Know How is available now on Amazon. You can follow Mark on his blog: www.markriggins.org.