Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18.
My second job was working as a desk clerk at a small Indiana State Park hotel near Mitchell. That was where I met Dan (name changed). Dan was a bright, talented guy a few years older than myself. He knew everything there was to know about the hotel, had taught himself how to do the night auditing tasks, and was kind and helpful to customers. Dan also knew how to hold a grudge better than anyone I had met up to that point.
The world was set against Dan; you could ask him and he’d tell you. He remembered everything anyone else on staff had said to him, especially any comments that were critical or confrontational. During off hours, Dan worked at a local thrift shop for reasons only he knew. Then he would come to work at the Inn and talk smack behind the desk.
It always baffled me why Dan wanted to even work at the Inn. If things were so bad, if people hated him so much, why put up with it? There were other jobs to be had; why not leave with your dignity intact and go get one? Yet Dan stayed long past the time I left. I don’t know where he is now.
Or there is Rudie (name also changed). A few years ago, my customer, Rudie, was a woman in southern Minnesota who was, in my opinion, the most experienced and talented person in her division yet she wasn’t in management, wasn’t placed in charge of anything, and didn’t lead anything (though she obviously wanted to). Her attitude was terrible, and she spent part of each day regaling my team and I with stories of how so & so had passed her over, or this person or that person had made a bad decision that caused havoc for the company. Did Rudie ever consider that she had been passed over because it was easier to get along with a honey badger than it was to get along with her? I was thankful when I moved to a new position.
Have you ever worked with someone like Dan or Rudie? Yesterday, my daily Bible devotion quoted Matthew 18:21, where Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who sins against him. “Up to seven times,” asks Peter. “No,” replies Jesus, “over seventy times seven times.” It’s a rhetorical way of saying “forgive unconditionally and unendingly.” Jesus said that because He knew Leviticus 19:18, where He directed God’s people to not hold grudges.
Grudges create division and conflict. In your workplace, grudges are usually the elephant in the room. They create attitudes like Dan’s and Rudie’s, cementing obstacles which prevent people from fulfilling their potential and rising above. Grudges lead to revenge, and revenge never ends well for anyone involved. True, it feels deceptively sweet there in the moment, yet invariably revenge feels empty and hollow to the person on Godly conscience. After we’ve sought it, we’re smaller, lesser than we were before even if appearances transmit otherwise.
The better path is to walk the path of forgiveness, loving other people – even those who hold grudges, even grudges against us – as we would love ourselves. When the hard-to-engage person brings up the past, listen, and forgive, and seek points in the conversation to help them move forward. Sometimes the person may not see the effects of their resentment; yes, sometimes they require rebuke (but be careful and loving with that; how would you react if someone rebuked you about your sore spot?). Other times, the best path may be to encourage them in other ways. In whatever we do, the goal is to bring that person back into the fold, to remind them that we love and forgive because Christ loves and forgive us. That goes for the workplace as much as it does at home.
This is how we manage God’s way.
For more reading: James 1:19, Colossians 3:13, Hebrews 12: 14-15, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 16:7, Luke 17:4.
Lord Jesus, help me to help others let go of grudges. Teach me to not hold them myself, to trust You to help me let go. Then help me to model that for those around me. Thank You for Your forgiveness.