How would you respond to a second chance? In a previous career, the author was the HR Manager in a Christian-owned inner-city business where there were employees who had completed the Teen Challenge program. These employees, once restored and given a second chance, were some of the most loyal and fiercely dedicated employees. All of my research in my doctoral studies is based on a strongly held belief in the Christian concept of redemption, and the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives from corruption to contributor, from vanquishment to victory (Romans 8 and 2 Peter 1).
The author also believes that God uses circumstances at our places of work and persons with whom we work to test and challenge us towards living a life which reflects the glory of God in a changed heart. Second chances can give us the opportunity to consider that perhaps a gracious bigger picture is at work, and these may cause us to reflect on kingdom principles. I was inspired a little today by the return of Jim Thome to Philadelphia (see the article here – http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sportsweek/20120210_Homecoming_King__Jim_Thome.html).
Certainly as transformed citizen of the kingdom of God, we know that we do none of this. Peter writes in 1 Peter 2 that, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy” (1 Peter 2:10 NLT).
It is true that only God can change a heart, and that our human efforts at redeeming others’ lives and activities is but a reflection of this kingdom principle of redemption which is at work in us. There is no guarantee of success through our own efforts at offering second chances, and experience may inhibit us from even trying. In previous research conducted among managers with a faith background, the author sought to determine the significance of a Christian worldview on the managers’ decision-making in the workplace (Bucci and Bruce, 2008). The research found that just because a manager’s faith guided their decision-making, it did not necessarily mean that a faith-based manager felt any more compelled to offer second chance opportunities to ex-offenders, or former drug addicts or even employees whom they had previously terminated (Bucci and Bruce, 2008).
When Jesus spoke to the Rich Young Ruler about kingdom redemption, he could not wrap his mind around complete surrender, and what it would cost to accept this second chance (see Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 18). Second chances in the Kingdom of God come with one condition – complete surrender. You can ask anyone who has made it through Teen Challenge, and they will tell you that the second chance is sweet, to rejoin family and get back to their former activities, but it all came about at a steep cost. This kind of mirrors Jon Foreman’s line in the song, Loser, where he says, “I’ve got a plan to lose it all.” For in this lies the only way to fully appreciate this second chance opportunity afforded by the death and resurrection of Christ. But as Jackie Gleason used to say, “How sweet it is!”