We use many words to describe leaders. Powerful, authoritative, persuasive, strong, bold, and visionary are often used. But have you ever heard a leader described as graceful or filled with grace? Not very likely! But Jesus was a leader “full of grace” (John 1:14).
What is grace? One of the most common definitions of grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is God’s favor on our lives, giving us blessings that we don’t deserve. Grace is not something we work for or deserve, it is unmerited.
So, what does it mean to lead with grace? In the next three issues we’ll seek to discover how to lead like Jesus, full of grace.
Paul wrote words we will consider carefully: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Paul wrote these words about grace to all believers, not just to leaders. But how does this deep work of grace impact the way we lead? Servant leaders first receive grace.
Servant leaders acknowledge they need grace.
Paul makes it clear that we all, including leaders, are saved by grace, the gift of God. Why do leaders need grace? Leaders are action oriented, world changers! They appear to be able to do things on their own.
But Paul reminds us that we can’t make it on our own. All our leadership gifting and capacity is not enough to earn our salvation. All the good deeds we do as leaders will not make a difference in our status with God.
Servant leaders acknowledge that they are the first ones who need grace!
Servant leaders admit their tendency towards work instead of grace.
Why does Paul need to point out that what God has done for us is “not by works, so that no one can boast”? He recognizes that leaders tend to measure themselves by what they accomplish and boast about it to others. Leaders measure success by what they have or accomplish. They measure success by the size of their vision or by the number of people who follow. All these measurements can give status to a leader, but this is not grace based leadership.
Servant leaders acknowledge with humility that none of their work is a cause for boasting. They admit their own tendency to boast of their work instead of God’s grace.
Servant leaders accept God’s gift of grace.
Paul challenges us all to accept God’s gift of grace as the only way to walk with Jesus. When first coming to Christ, most people feel a deep sense of a need for God’s grace. But with time, as God works to transform our lives and calls us into leadership, it is easy to shift our focus from the need for God’s grace in our own lives to the need other people have for God’s grace. Servant leaders remember that they must continually accept God’s gift of grace.
Receiving grace profoundly shapes the way we lead. Servant leaders see their leadership as a gift from God to be used for His purposes. They do not see their leadership as something they deserve because of good performance. They humbly learn to keep receiving grace at the top of their daily “to do” list. They pause to remind themselves that all their leadership achievements are nothing compared to the grace God has given them.
Servant leaders lead with grace by first receiving God’s grace.
Until next time, yours on the journey,
For further reflection and discussion:
- How often in my daily life do I recognize that I need God’s grace? What can I do to make this a more living reality in my life?
- After Paul successfully planted many churches and was recognized as an apostle in the church, he said that he was the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15-16). How did this view of himself shape his leadership? What can I learn from Paul’s example about receiving God’s grace even after leadership success?
- In what ways do I tend to measure my significance by my accomplishments? How does this impact my view of God’s grace? What do I need to do to turn my boasting towards God’s grace instead of my work?
Copyright, Global Disciples 2019.