A number of people have asked me about the recent Poets Prophets Preachers conference. This is the final of four brief summaries and reflections of the conference highlights. These will be posts that are relevant for everyone – even those who do not consider themselves Poets Prophets or Preachers.

The One Thing that Changes Everything – Rob Bell

Rob Bell closed the conference sharing the “one thing that no one every told me, but changes everything.” (How is that for a hook?)

So what is that “one thing?”

Forgiveness (Really!)

All of us have taken hits from others. Sometimes it is an obvious attack. Normally it is a series of small criticism or negative comments that eventually wear us down. These hits wound us. The pain turns into anger. The anger destroys us. This process normally begins and we do not even realize it. Bell calls this “death by paper cut.”

There are a few warning signs that we need to dive into forgiveness before it is too late. We begin holding back from doing our best. We label people. We seek revenge.

Here are some steps toward genuine forgiveness:

  1. Know your wounds. Be honest about them.
  2. Identify the various issues that are involved. Choose to own only what is yours.
  3. Get to the core of your issues.
  4. Accept that there may be unresolved issues with the other people.
  5. Let the other person go. Release them, and desire good for them.

The process of true forgiveness will hurt. It will hurt deeply. It will hurt like death. However, it is a death that leads to life. The other option is the slow death of bitterness.

Once we forgive, we are freed to live, lead, and teach simply as a gift. We can give the gift and be happy in the moment. It is simply an act of love. It is no longer dependant upon the feedback of others. They are free of that weight, and we are also free.

Forgiveness allows us to approach preaching, or leadership, or simply living with the attitude, “I can not wait to give this gift to these people who I love.”

Rob Bell was able to deliver this message like few others (See previous post on the medium is the message.). In addition to the normal hits that a pastor takes, Rob has been has been attacked by a number of self-proclaimed “defenders of the faith” from around the globe. He has been deeply wounded by these attacks. However, I have never heard him retaliate against the attackers. Rob was able to teach on forgiveness with integrity.