Society must provide law and order to successfully function with fairness and safety for its citizens. Laws set boundaries and when properly enforced, they bring order to potential chaos. Now think about all the laws that bring order to your organization. Some of those laws are set by Federal, State and local governments. The rest of your laws 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. It is best for everyone when their community or organization functions within a well-defined system of law and order. Enforcing the law however, is not the only way to establish order.
Servant leadership is based upon the value of extending grace. Both enforcing the law and extending grace are essential components for establishing order that is healthy. In societies where laws are ruthlessly enforced, order may be 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 and how to enforce the law along with how and when to extend grace will require 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 given only 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. For a world in chaos because of sin, Jesus came to bring grace and order. As a 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”.
“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” ~ John Stott