Servant leaders receive God’s grace as we saw in the previous issue. They acknowledge their need of grace and begin their journey with Jesus. That journey requires learning to live by grace. As Paul reminds us:
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).
As leaders receive God’s grace, they begin the journey of learning to live by grace. They acknowledge that works will not save them, but they are created “to do good works.”
Leaders grow to understand the specific call God has given them to lead those who follow, and they get busy with the tasks at hand. But they must learn to live this journey by grace. How do servant leaders allow grace to shape themselves before they seek to lead others?
Servant leaders allow grace to shape their identity.
Servant leaders find their identity in what God has done for them, not what they have done for Him! They learn to live with the reality that “it is by grace you have been saved.” They lead and serve because of grace, not to get grace! This makes all the difference in the outlook of a leader. It is not position, titles, or possessions that shape our identity, rather it is God’s grace upon our lives. Servant leaders find their identity in God’s grace.
Servant leaders allow grace to shape their service.
Leaders who live by grace acknowledge that they are “created to do good works.” Leaders work hard. But servant leaders allow grace to shape their service. Servant leaders learn that their service to Jesus is a response to His grace rather than a sense of guilt, fear or duty! They live and serve with grace. As Paul gives instruction to a young leader, Titus, he says, For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).
The things servant leaders say “yes” to and the things they say “no” to are shaped by God’s grace. They do not serve with a sense of guilt or duty; they serve in response to God’s grace. Servant leaders view their work as an overflow of God’s grace in their lives, not that which attracts God’s grace. Servant leaders serve God wholeheartedly, not because of guilt or duty, but because they love Him and what He has done in their lives.
Servant leaders allow grace to shape their calling.
Paul reminds leaders that their calling is to do that “which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The call of a servant leader flows out of God’s grace, not out of their own desires to change the world. The vision of the servant leader is an acknowledgement of God’s call, not the cry of a power-hungry person.
Living by grace profoundly shapes the way we lead. Servant leaders first learn to live in God’s grace before trying to gain influence with others. They settle the issues of their identity and calling as they reflect on God’s grace. They don’t base their worth on their accomplishments, but on God’s grace. This allows them to step into their leadership role with confidence but a deep humility and awareness of God’s grace in their lives.
Servant leaders lead with grace by first learning to live in God’s grace.
Until next time, yours on the journey,
For further reflection and discussion:
- On what do I base my identity? Is it based primarily on what I do or accomplish as a leader? Or is it based simply on what God has done in my life by His grace?
- What guides me in saying “yes” or “no” to temptations? Are my decisions a response to God’s grace, or a desire to look good to others? When I struggle with a sin, do I try to work harder to overcome it or do I look at God’s grace until my heart is changed in how I see my sin?
- As I carry out my leadership vision, am I continuously aware that this is what God “prepared in advance for me to do”? Or do I believe that I have developed my abilities to influence at this level?