The Day I Learned to Forgive


It was 5 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon when I got some of the best advice I would ever receive in life. At the time, I was 15 hours away from being required to testify in court against one parent on behalf of another. It was the end of an 18-month divorce process that brought the end to a 27-year marriage and tore apart a family. The advice was simple and yet profound.

Sometimes it is necessary to forgive someone,

even when it’s not asked for.

This simple truth has profound ramifications if we fail to teach it to our kids. Think about it. You have seen the results in adults’ lives. You have likely known someone who was bitter, angry, and wounded people simply as a result of their own unhealed wounds. The topic is so important that Peter (who appeared to struggle with this as well) specifically asked Jesus about it in Matthew 18: 21-35. Jesus’ response tells us exactly where he fell on the topic of forgiveness.

With scripture as our guide, here are five practical steps in helping our kids (and ourselves) practice forgiveness:*

  1. We have got to model it ourselves. Kids who live in the same house with us know when we are wounded and watch our response.
  2. Always deal first with our own heart. Mark 11:25 tells us to forgive so that we may be forgiven.
  3. Love the habitual sinner wisely. Romans 12:17-19 reminds us that we cannot control others, only ourselves and our response.
  4. Forgiveness does not mean turning a blind eye to sin. Christians are not called to be the proverbial doormat. If we can teach our kids the principles of Matthew 18 that include humility, love, and confrontation, they will be better off for it.
  5. Practice asking for forgiveness. Many people grow up to believe they do not need forgiveness or that they are not forgivable. Neither is true.

Forgiveness can be one of the most difficult concepts to offer or accept. It is often a process and involves a supernatural grace only available from The Lord. What a relief that the story of Jesus is centered upon love, grace, and forgiveness!


Until next time,


*Excerpts included from:

Lane, Timothy. “Forgiving Others: Joining Wisdom and Love.” Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2004.

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→