We tend to lack the willingness to give the great gift of grace in this world. People are tired, stressed, and burned out. They are leaving the workforce in record numbers. Energy, patience, and resilience are depleted with no time for replenishment.
This concept was placed on my heart through a discussion with our leadership team recently. We had just watched an episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast titled Leading Out of a Crisis. The concept of giving our team grace came up in the discussion following.
Our organization is not immune from the employment shortage crisis. Our success remains on the backs of those who continue to faithfully serve us. The conversation evolved into a discussion around how to provide grace, while holding team members accountable.
We didn’t arrive at a conclusion because it is not an easy balance. It did get my brain going on the subject of grace. How do we increase our ability to give the great gift of grace in our leadership worlds while executing our organizational goals?
What is Grace?
Grace is a term used loosely these days. Most would say that grace is giving someone forgiveness when they make a mistake, maybe even letting them slide. Grace in the biblical world is defined as an, “unmerited gift.” Basically, you do not earn it. It is a gift that was given to you. When you are given a gift for your birthday, you have two simple options, accept or reject it.
Sometimes grace gets lumped in with the justice and mercy conversation. Lee Strobel clarifies it this way, “Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve, grace is getting what you don’t deserve.”
In this week’s post, we dive into five ways that we can give the great give of grace:
There is a great video that Chick-fil-A produced (posted at the end) that does a really good job of demonstrating that we have no clue what other people may be walking through in life. I have always felt that sympathy is when you have walked in someone else’s shoes. You were an alcoholic, they are an alcoholic. Your parents are divorced, their parents are walking through a divorce. Their story is one that you have lived and breathed.
Empathy is when you haven’t actually walked in their shoes, but have made every attempt to feel and understand what it would be like to. It’s as close as you can get to sympathy. You read the book, but didn’t live it.
As leaders, when we are empathetic, we give grace. When we seek to understand what others are walking through it sets us apart as leaders. It means more than we know to them. People need and value leaders who are empathetic.
Assume the Best
I can be a skeptical person by nature, it is just how I am wired. Whether skepticism is in your nature, the more experience we gain, it can become an unintended side effect of growth. You’ve seen the worst of the worst, the colossal failures, the organizational train derailments, and the people that have failed you. It can easily condition you to believe the worst in people if we allow it to.
In leadership, we should always believe the best in people until there is no other option to do so. We do this by giving people grace based on their intentions. Intention may not always determine direction, but intentions are generally grounded in good. People with good character intend to do the right thing, so assume the best.
You Have Been Given Grace
When I am struggling with giving grace, my rear-view mirror helps keep me in check. There have been plenty of things I have messed up, miscalculated, and mismanaged. All that mess is now my message, my story. Without those experiences, I would not be the person I am today. Whenever you run out of grace to issue to others, fuel your tank up with the grace that has been given to you.
Calm is Contagious
All of us have enough junk in our worlds. That junk comes in the form of pressures that generate stress and anxiety. An overreaction to a mistake kicks people while they are down. None of us like being kicked while we are down. So why do we feel the need to do it to others?
Grace filled leaders can stabilize a crisis. They can deliver a struggling team member through difficult circumstances. They demonstrate grace by remaining calm. No doubt, when things go wrong, it is your responsibility as a leader to take corrective action. Discipline can wait, in the moment, your team needs calm because it is contagious. Calm gives grace in the moment and gives them hope that you will walk hand in hand with them through the valley.
Be a Good Human Being
I have sat in long lines to check out at the grocery story, it has taken longer than normal to get my food at a restaurant, places closed when I need them to be open, and deliveries not arriving on time. During these experiences I have watched the worst of humanity, people just being mean and nasty to other human beings. There is no grace.
The problem is, we expect the same level of service and performance as we did prior to the craziness of the last two years. Everyone is trying to provide that same level of service to meet unrealistic expectations with less people. I saw some signs posted at restaurants that said, “please be kind to those that showed up.” They are asking for grace.
How about instead of griping, pitching fits, complaining, chastising, and demeaning others, we just gave good old fashioned grace. We can give grace through a smile, patience, and gratitude. Be the person that positively redirects that person who did show up that day. It’s not their fault.
Yesterday, after a long day of working in the Garden, I was rear ended on the way home. I was waiting to make a left-hand turn. My instincts in those situations are to always check my rearview mirror. Sure enough, I looked and the person behind me was coming full speed, eyes looking down at their phone. Thankfully, I saw it coming and was able to let off the brake at the last minute and minimize the blow (everything and everyone was okay).
As I called 911, I looked out the window and saw the young man pace around with a cigarette in his mouth. He was visibly shaken. As I wrapped up the call, I got out of the vehicle. He immediately asked if I was okay, apologized, and admitted that he was not paying attention.
This could have been a good opportunity to make sure justice was served. I could have lectured him on the importance of not driving distracted and made him feel worse about the situation. He knew the mistake he made, there was no need to pile on.
He went on to tell me how he had worked a fifteen hour shift the night before and showed me a severe burn he obtained on his arm during the shift. His car was not in good shape and I drew some assumptions based on his position that he may not be in a great financial position. I could sense the stress in him on how he was going to pay for all of this. I’m glad I chose grace this day, he needed it.
Now, I don’t want to come across as a saint. I miss the mark plenty. Those closest to me could easily attest to that. By the way, I write these posts to hold myself accountable too.
Ability vs Willingness
Yesterday was a good example of the ABILITY I have to issue the great gift of grace. The question I have been reflecting on the last few days is this. Do I have the WILLINGNESS to issue grace? I hope so. What about you?