Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Unspeakable by Os Guinness

Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 28, 2014

As the Chairman of LIFE Leadership, I have made reading a life-long habit. Nonetheless, this year’s summer season reading regimen was particularly productive. In fact, I read so many challenging books at my Michigan house that it is difficult to choose which one was the most impactful. However, if I was pressed to choose, it would have to be Unspeakable by Os Guinness. This book tackles the question of evil and how the Judeo/Christian, Hindu/Buddhist, and secular humanist world views respond to it. Through following Guinness’s line of reasoning I was left appreciating the strengths and weakness of each worldview while still bolstering my belief that Christianity has the most consistent answers to the problem of, and the response to, evil in the world. 

Most people see themselves as fighters against evil, but what happens after they realize that the biggest battle they fight against evil is the war within their own hearts? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described the dilemma human beings face in his classic The Gulag Archipelago when he wrote, “But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being? And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” To destroy evil we must either destroy our heart or transform it through God’s grace.

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

In his chapter on second chances, Guinness takes no prisoners. He explains how nearly everyone has said the Lord’s Prayer at some time in his/her life. However, few realize exactly what they are praying when they say, “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Indeed, most of us mouth the words blissfully ignorant of the prayers meaning. For when a person prays this, he is stating that if he doesn’t forgive others, then he prays that God doesn’t forgive him! Yikes!

Guinness wrote, “No wonder Saint Agustine called the famous line in the Lord’s Prayer ‘the terrible petition’: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ If we pray that prayer and fail to forgive our fellow human beings as we have been forgiven, we are actually asking God not to forgive us. . . nothing that anyone can ever do to us will equal what we have done to God, and he has offered us forgiveness completely and freely. Our duty, then, is to forgive as we have been forgiven and to show that we have been forgiven by being willing to forgive others in our turn. Do they deserve it? Did we?”

It’s important to understand that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. You can forgive someone even if they are unwilling to reconcile. It is this truth that allows Christians to have joy even when their enemies still hate them. Otherwise, they would carry enmity against their foes which poisons their own soul as much as it does their Haters. In the book Unbroken, for instance, POW Ernest Zamperini carried so much bitterness and hatred against a Japanese officer, who abused him in the war camp, that he nearly destroyed his own life through hating and alcohol. In sum, external evil (unjust oppression) had metastasized into internal evil (hatred in the heart). Fortunately, once he was forgiven by Christ, he was finally able to forgive the unrepentant guard.

Why am I telling you this? Because after twenty-one years of leadership, I have concluded that unrepentant sin holds more people back from their God-given destiny than anything else. Lack of forgiveness is sin, plain and simple. If you are a Christian, and harboring anger against someone, let it go. Place it in the same spot your own sins were layed – at the foot of the Cross. This is serious. Stop reading for a second and think about whom in your life you need to forgive. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Is there anyone from your past or present that is binding you in bitterness? Stop drinking poison while expecting others to die. Forgive them like Christ forgave you to release the evil bonds. 

With so much evil and injustice to fight on the outside, why continue harbor these rebels on the inside? Guinness wrote, “. . . true forgiveness is not the same thing as condoning. . . It is not to deny wrong.It is not to tolerate the intolerable or lie down under the outrageous. It is to call a spade a spade, and evil evil, and to allow the full horror of its magnitude and outrage to sink in on every level – and then to be willing to dismiss the grounds of our own personal vengeance toward the evildoer. In other words, forgiveness confronts the evil as evil, and the wrongdoer as guilty, but refuses to retaliate and so refuses to play evil’s game and let evil have the final say.”

It’s time to wipe out our enemies by making them a friend. I let go of my remaining enmity back in 2011, shortly before the launch of  LIFE Leadership. I realized that I could not carry around bitterness and resentment while still leaving enough room to love others as Christ commanded. What about you? Isn’t it time to let the hurts, the bitterness, and the pain go? Christ did that for us and now it’s time we pray rather than poison those who hurt us. Only then will you experience the peace that passeth understanding. Martin Luther King experienced more than his share of oppression, but he did not let the evil conquer his heart; instead, he observed, “We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of the enmity.” Amen to that, Mr. King.


Orrin Woodward

40 Responses to “Unspeakable by Os Guinness”

  1. Tim Peterson said

    Orrin, you are EXACTLY right. The evil in the world today is hidden by Satan and clothed in what the world leaders and all the world call good. Satan is very sneaky by using “civil rights” as a cloak for his darkness. It is in hearts and will only be extinguished when Hearts return to Christ’s mercy.
    Our weapons against this are simple. First, LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL ELSE & NEIGHBOR AS SELF. Second is Prayer and Sacrifice.
    By all means, ask God for blessings, wants, desires, needs & provisions. And you best be following this up with the “Our Father and even a Hail Mary.” Both of these prayers assuage the hearts of Jesus and Mary and put forth into the world around those who pray it Love.
    Sacrifice that which you love to gain grace and merit for the world and for souls.
    WWJD backwards means — devil just won’t win.
    He is OUR FATHER and he wants OUR LOVE. Pray an OUR FATHER & a HAIL MARY today.

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Tim, excellent thoughts. I may hesitate on the Hail Mary prayer (as a Protestant 🙂 ) but I love your passion to root sin out of our own hearts before rooting it out of world. So much evil has flown under the banner of an alleged good, that we must first check our own hearts before proceeding boldly in Christ! thanks, Orrin

  2. This cuts me to the core. Thank you for this Orrin.

    My Father is finally rightly forgiven. It’s time to move on.

  3. Elizabeth Sieracki said

    You and Laurie are such beautiful examples for us. When we think we are going through “it” often times I think how much more you all went through to become the amazing leaders you are. It is incredibly apparent who you strive to fashion your lives after- our Lord and Father Jesus Christ. Thank you for your obedience as well as your openness in sharing this message.

  4. James Wilkinson said

    This is a good read. I’m sure we have all offended someone. Modeling forgiveness helps others forgive & helps others forgive us as well. May it be contagious!

  5. Chad Waters said

    Hi Orrin!

    I love how we get to learn from your reading and getting your perspectives through your blogs. Almost more info then reading it self.

    God Bless

  6. Larry J Kirkley said


    We are so proud to be following you and picking up what you lay down. Love the blog and information you share.

    God Bless

  7. Jeanette P said

    This is very well said Orrin!
    I believe unforgiveness is satan’s favorite playground, since by NOT forgiving, it ruins the purpose of the cross in a persons life. In other words, the enemy did not want Christ to go to the cross, therefore attempts to remove its affect from a believers life with holding grudges. Forgiving requires the help of the Holy Spirit, for in my might- I can do nothing! As the whole purpose of the cross was for heavenly purpose, so too forgiveness requires heavenly assistance.:)
    Proud to be influenced by the Truths that LIFE leadership teaches!

  8. Mario Vega said

    Thank you for all your wisdom. It is exciting to know our leaders are open with their Faith F, as any other F.

  9. Scott Russell said

    Thanks Orrin for the great blog it will be reread often and applied thanks again for all you do, you add value to so many lives!!!!

    Scott Russell

  10. Monique Hoffer said

    What an amazing gift you are to the LIFE Community.

    I also read a book recently called “Unglued” in it the author stated a similar thing regarding forgiveness. I believe she said “forgiveness is required reconciliation is not”

    What an amazing reminder to forgive quickly, and completely.

  11. Renee Oettinger said

    WOW! So powerful when really looking at forgiveness through the Lord’s prayer and so devastating when people choose not to forgive. Thanks for this awesome post.

  12. Cody Newton said

    Orrin, thanks for this. Your Quote “Most people would see themselves as fighters against evil, but what happens when they realize that the biggest battle against evil is within their own hearts”? Is a life changer when applied. Thank you

  13. Brian Sommers said


    I am amazed how God speaks to us. I sit here reading this blog and have a situation thrown by satan my way. Satan wants me to respond with evil in my heart. Not today satan. God reminds us and myself today that He forgave me just as I will respond with love and forgiveness to the situation rather than evil.
    Thanks for the reminder and all you do Orrin.

    Brian Sommers

  14. Whoa…needed this today Orrin! Thank you.
    “The truth sets you free…after it ticks you off.” OW

  15. Elaine Mallios said

    That was really good. I find that I have to forgive over and over because it kind of sneaks back in. But you are so right. I am happy to hear that forgiveness is not reconciliation. Sometimes I have to separate myself from evil doers. I tried to repair a family situation that occurred , to no avail. Fr. Mark (my priest) told me that some things can’t be fixed especially if the other person won’t comply. They need to hold on to their self deception to justify their actions. My prayers always include forgive me and help me to forgive.

  16. Orrin Woodward said

    Great thoughts guys and gals. The main point is if Jesus forgave you then you will forgive others. Just as James says: you say you have faith, great! Show me your faith by your works. Faith without works is DEAD. I am not arguing against saved by grace, as the Bible is clear on that point. However, what I am pointing out is: now that you are saved by grace, be sure and do what Christ commands and forgive others like he did you. Forgiveness does not mean you must associate daily with them, but it leaves the door open for reconciliation once God works upon their heart like he has yours. Forgiveness is really a matter of your heart. If you are carrying anger and bitterness against someone, then it is unrepentant sin. If you have forgiven them and pray that God to work in their lives foster reconciliation, then you are released from bondage of bitterness through God’s grace. I hope that helps. thanks, Orrin

  17. Dan Loomis said

    I forgive you.

  18. Ray Straw said

    Orrin I’ve been reading your books and listening to your CDs but this last evening I had ask God for forgiveness as I told a small lie and felt horrible about it. This morning my phone beeped and I looked at it and linked in was open and there was your name. I clicked on your name and I seen your blog and read it. I know God took me there and I was blown away by your writings. Thanks for all the wisdom and this will be one of the greatest days of my life. Looking forward to the future in life.

  19. Excellent insights on this Orrin, thanks so much for this message. Just a quick personal story to support this post. I once had a co-worker who was really being a jerk. It was making me very angry, upset, and unhappy. It literally turned my stomach. I wondered what to do about it because I like being happy. As I prayed about what to do in this situation, the inspiration came that I needed to apologize to him. I quickly brushed off the idea because I could think of nothing to apologize for, he was the one being a jerk. I continued feeling ticked off and miserable for a few more days. Again as I prayed about it the inspiration came that I needed to apologize to him. The idea seemed so ridiculous, but this time I asked what I should apologize for. Then the words came to my mind, “You have been angry, your anger is wrong. You need to apologize for your anger.” I was stunned at this thought that my anger was wrong. After all I was the good guy here, the other guy was being a jerk, so I didn’t see anything wrong with being angry at the bad guy. But as I considered apologizing I felt a slight easing of the inner tension I had been feeling. So, when the opportunity came I apologized to this co-worker for my anger. He was very surprised, and quckly brushed me off. I wasn’t attached to his response, I didn’t expect much, and he didn’t respond positively. But at the end of our 30 second conversation, I felt like I was walking on air! I couldn’t believe how good I felt!
    I had thought he was making me miserable, but it was my response to him, my own anger at him, that was making me unhappy. If I had continued to blame him, I would have never been free of that burden. Oh, and after that he continued to be a jerk, but it never upset me – I was no longer his victim; I acted rather than reacted.
    I appreciate your post on this subject and thought I would pass that experience along just in case it might do some good for somebody. God bless you!

  20. Heather Woods said

    I sure hope this books come down in the AGO subscription soon! Thank you so much for the reminder. It’s so easy, in our flesh, to get caught up in how we’ve been wronged, we forget how much more our sin has offended a holy God. It reminded me about the parable of the unforgiving servant in the Gospel. How wicked of us not to forgive others. Are we more holy than God? :-0

  21. Great read, Orrin. Thanks for your insight. I’ve always found forgiveness to be so very freeing. I like how you point out the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, as well as condoning. These are all key points in truly understanding what forgiveness is all about. I was holding anger and resentment for many years, thinking it was my job to punish (ha!) the person who wronged me, when in actuality, I was only punishing myself because when I finally forgave that person, I found that I felt such a relief and peace.

  22. Shaun Bushey said

    This post is timeless Orrin, thank you!

    In reading I noticed you said, “I let go of my remaining enmity back in 2011”. Forgive me if I missed something and if I may ask, what happened?

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Shaun, we went through a massive legal war that divided many friends along principles or profits. I was angry at the ones who chose profits over principles and God thankfully pointed out to me that I was only going to destroy myself by holding onto it. So, before the launch of LIFE, I forgave them all as the Bible commanded. Some I have restored relationships with and others are still destroying themselves in hatred. I truly wish the best for all of them and have moved on thankful about how much God taught me through it all. In fact, I wouldn’t have studied history to learn about the FLD and SDS were it not for the whole struggle. God turned something that others meant for evil into something good in my life. Keep rocking Shaun! 🙂 thanks, Orrin

      • Shaun Bushey said

        Thanks Orrin. I have not yet (and hopefully never will) know the intricacies or pain of intense and massive legal battles that leave friendships shattered and scars on your heart like that would leave. although, along with the blessings with the realization of the FLD and the SDS could it be that the friends who went through that fire with you are stronger having be tested or the restored friendships now have a stronger foundation being tested then they otherwise would have? I know that I don’t know any of the particulars, I just find encouragement in what Mark Twain said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” I hope this helps you as it did me. Thank you for being an incredible servant leader!

  23. JB Thompson said

    Great post Orrin. A new member to our family via marriage has tried to create a rift between my mother and my brother and it has worked. My mother is miserable because her son (my brother) has sided with his new bride against my mother. My mother is an amazing woman who would do anything for anybody and this new bride has stated some very hurtful things about her and it has taken to her core. I am going to forward this blog to my mother in hopes she reads it and understands that although this other person is attacking her she can be strong and carry on! Thank you Orrin!

    Thank you Life Leadership! My wife and I talked today about how blessed we were to have our first child after I had been exposed to this information. I have changed and continue to change and I am very excited about it. FIRED UP!!!

  24. Peggi Kern said

    Thank you for sharing this amazing, yet difficult concept! It wasn’t until I listened to Bill Lewis speak on forgiveness that it really clicked for me. I had forgiveness and reconciliation as one and the same. When I couldn’t control the other person’s response, forgiveness seemed so painful and almost impossible. When I realized that forgiveness was my choice and I had total control, I was able to let go of the pain and hurt caused by others, offer them the grace that I have received from Christ’s sacrifice and totally forgive. Thank you to LIFE Leadership for giving me this insight.

  25. Jim Wilson said

    Good afternoon, Orrin,
    My prayer is for the softening of the hearts of all men, but especially in the Middle East. With two ideologies that do not speak much of forgiveness, the cycle of “you hit me last” will continue. The forgiveness of Christ is the only true answer I see.
    Jim Wilson

  26. robert wilcox said

    Wow!! Perfect timing ..thank you. You have such a gift of making it simple!!! Its only a gutcheck if we are harboring issues and not confronting them with the right mindset. Thank you for the gutcheck. I often think about your tri-lateral leadership ledger…char. tasks relationships. Relationships to me is just not individuals ….but God also! Thank you

  27. CJ Calvert said

    Orrin, re-reading this excellent post, I know that I have fallen short in being forgiving, even very recently. What a valuable reminder that the Lord’s prayer holds us to a higher standard. Thanks again.

  28. Paul Bragenzer said

    What a wonderfully challenging post Orrin. Thanks for shining a light in the darkness.

  29. Phelicia Wyant said

    Excellent post to touch both my heart and my mind. Two things stand out to me, first when you said “To destroy evil we must either destroy our heart or transform it through God’s grace.” I am reading a book called “The Justified Walk” and one of the most profound things I read there relates to what you said. The author says that we can never change our hearts, but like David we need God to create a new heart within us. He also describes the contrast between SINS and SIN. He says that God is always willing and able to forgive our SINS, but that SIN ( the carnal nature of our hearts) can never be forgiven, it must be killed as Paul says “I die daily.” It is only by the power of God’s grace that any of us can die to self and receive a new heart.

    Second, on forgiveness, I had an experience at a church camp meeting when I saw someone I had not seen for several years and I got that horrible churning feeling in my gut. The talk that day was on forgiveness and I was convicted I had not forgiven this person for events that had taken place years earlier. I asked God to put forgiveness in my heart for this person, and the results were miraculous. The next time I saw this person I was able to have a pleasant conversation and that horrible churning was gone. I had stopped drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

    Thank you for sharing these truths to so many and for all you have done to bring Life Leadership into so many lives. I truly believe your legacy will reach into eternity.

  30. alfred rojas said

    Joseph Prince – Live The Overcoming Life – 28 Sep…: http://youtu.be/Kr3z6giAeoQ

  31. Tyler schlosser said

    Wow what a great post and comments!! Orrin your capacity to dominate life amazes me!!

  32. Samuel said

    I strongly believe that if we were to focus our attention on unraveling what Christ Jesus accomplished at the cross, we would see the fruit of His labor in our lives more often. Whole hearted, Spirit impulsed forgiveness flows from a scripturaly based foundation. Forgiveness is a gift from God. The Lord offers human kind a higher way, an easier way, a lightweight way of coming to and giving forgiveness. We can choose to a costly, heavy, human effort centered approach to forgiveness, or God’s way. Forgiveness long lasting and pure when it’s Spirit birthed by the power of the gospel of Christ Jesus. Long story short, the realization of what Christ accomplished on the cross is what opens our hearts and minds to appreciate and understand the Grace of God. Only then can we honestly give by grace what by grace we’ve received. (Colossians 1:13-14 & 21-23) blessings Orrin, sam

  33. Danny Michael said

    For me it is to forgive myself also.
    Thanks Orrin.

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