“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” ~ John Stott
Society must establish law and order to successfully function in fairness and safety for its citizens. Laws set boundaries and when properly enforced, they bring order to potential chaos. It’s like having lines on the field at a sporting event. Without the lines and the rules that come with them, you would never know what was “in bounds” or “out of bounds”. Lines and rules bring order to the game.
Now think about all the “lines and rules” that bring order to your organization. Some are set by federal, state and local governments. Many of your “lines and rules” were set by the leadership of your organization in order to establish boundaries and communicate expectations to both the people on your team as well as those you serve. Lines and rules establish law and order.
It is best for everyone when their community or organization functions within a well-defined system of law and order. It establishes a sense of fairness. However, enforcing the law is not the only way to establish order.
Servant leadership is based upon the value of knowing when to extend grace. Both enforcing the law and extending grace are essential components to establishing order in healthy way. In societies where laws are ruthlessly enforced, order is attained at the expense of the overall health of the culture. “Grace and Order” are just as vital to creating a positive and productive culture as “Law and Order”. Knowing when to enforce the law and when to extend grace requires a great deal of wisdom and discernment. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about this very issue:
Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NLT)
Healthy, growing and fruitful cultures achieve order by enforcing their laws with grace. If you’ve ever been pulled over for a traffic violation and only given a warning, you have experienced “grace and order”. Think about how this might apply to how you lead your team. Are there times you could achieve order just as effectively by extending grace instead of enforcing a law? For Christian leaders, we have a compelling example in Jesus Christ. He lived and died to fulfill the requirements of the law through grace. Jesus came to bring grace and order to a world in chaos because of sin.
As a Christian leader, seek God’s wisdom today for how you might lead your team with a good balance between “Law and Order” and “Grace and Order”. Learn to value both. Don’t focus on doing what is fair, focus on doing what is right. Grace is never based on what’s fair, it is always undeserved.