Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A story: Forgiveness, everyone benefits (except the opposition)

In Australia, the Australian rules football grand final was played and won by Geelong. (they hadn't won a grand final in 44 years)

One player, Steve Johnson, by the conclusion of the game had collected a premiership medal, the Norm Smith medal for best on ground, 4 goals and an All Australian jumper for being one of the best players in the AFL that season. However without forgiveness from the Geelong Football Club leadership team Steve Johnson wouldn't have played one single game.

Since 2002, the year he was drafted Steve Johnson he messed up numerous times. He had broken team rules and been arrested on numerous occasions. At the end of 2006 at a function and affected by alcohol he jumped a fence and badly injured his ankle. The club told him to go, consider his future, reflect on his life and get his act together during the off season...It was during this time that he was again arrested for drunk and disorderly (this was at least the third time he had been arrested for alcohol related issues). Many football 'experts' and commentators were saying he had had enough chances and should be discarded.

The Geelong Football Club however approached things slighltly differently. Yes they did deliver some consequences to Steve Johnson as a result of his actions. They banished him from the senior side (playing and training) indefinitely and indicated that they would not look at his situation again until after round five, no matter what happened. At the same time however they gave him the opportunity again to improve, they placed him in the reserves team and more importantly placed some people around him to develop a closer relationship with him and help him with some of his issues.

During this time some things happened. His attitude changed. He realised that he was the problem for many of the issues, and that his love of alcohol caused many of the problems. So he gave up the alcohol. Leaders at Geelong publicly stated he was not just focussed on himself, he was now team focussed and he committed himself more to training and improving not just for himself but the team.

Then in round 6 he was welcomed back into the senior team, by the leadership group at Geelong Football Club....and everyone has now benefited (except of course the opposition) because Geelong Football Club dared to forgive and work through the difficult task of forgiveness.

Maybe this is what Jesus was talking about when he says forgive the same person seven times in a day....or St Paul spoke about in 2 Corinthians 2:1-11, Colossians 3:1-17

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