• dannydavis02

You Got to Have Grace!

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Today I am continuing in my series about the qualities, not style, of a transformational leader. In my last blog post I talked about the need for grit. Let's review just a bit by asking, "What is grit?"

Leaders with grit are courageous willing to take risks and manage the results. Gritty leaders focus on follow-through and take a long-term perspective. They understand leadership is a about the long-haul where small advances lead to the big goal. "Grit," says Duckworth, "is living a life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."


Now, when I use the word grace most of us (at least those who've grown up in the church) think of the following definition, "God's unmerited favor." Well, that definition is only partially correct because it does not fully expand on the result of grace. Yes, God's grace is unearned, unmerited, and undeserved. Nevertheless, God, through Christ, saves us from the penalty of sin by grace (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9).

Yes there is grace to save us but there is also grace that calls us to go in a certain direction. Abraham believed God and was made righteous, but Abraham's belief moved him toward a city whose builder and maker is God (cf. Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:10).

Leaders, especially Christian leaders, understand that without a keen since of God's grace pointing us in a certain direction we will not last. Unless your grit is tempered by grace your leadership will be marked by bullying, cajoling, and manipulating. You may motivate people toward a goal, but you will not inspire them for the journey to reach it. Leading with grit and grace requires a constant answering of two vital questions:

Who am I/we?

This question helps us to evaluate our values and identity. Values, both personal and corporate, are the engine that drives culture. A lack of value clarity prevents formation of identity. And an unclear identity sends the leader and organization chasing after the useless while all the while thinking you're doing something important.

When I was leading a rural church revitalization I recognized quickly that the church was floundering primarily because it did not know who it was. Not knowing it's identity fueled mission drift. I also realized that in this identity void, others with ungodly agendas, were the ones giving the church it's identity. It took time, energy, and a lot prayer to help the church regain it's identity by first clearly working on our values. You can read more about this in my book Rural Church Turnaround.

Is Who I/we are glorifying God?

This question speaks to whether you or the organization is operating in God's grace. Values and identity set us on a path toward building a culture - a way of being and doing. But is that way of being/doing right. In other words, is the grace of God fueling our movement or are we constantly struggling to find peace.

Believers in Christ are enlivened and sustained by Holy Spirit, who guides us to truth (cf. John 16:13). Holy Spirit also gives us the ability to discern not only right from wrong but also the important from the unimportant. David, the king and psalmist, prayed, "Teach me knowledge and good judgment for I trust your commands" (Psalm 119:66 NIV). David's petition as a leader was for God to teach him discernment that he might lead the people of Israel. Israel had lost it's identity as God's people but David was determined to lead them back on the path of being a light for the nations (cf. Isaiah 49:6).

So, how do I discern my own values and identity and those of the organization I lead. I draw here on the work of Will Mancini and his book Church Unique. Mancini asserts that our "kingdom concept" - our identity and values - can be discerned by looking at where three elements intersect (think Venn diagram):

  • Local Predicament: what are the needs and opportunities God is putting in front of us right now. It just might be Holy Spirit is illuminating these things because you and your organization are uniquely positioned to help.

  • Collective Potential: in light of the local predicament, what are the capacities and resources you can bring to bear to help? I have learned that as you use the capacity and resources currently available, God has a way of growing them (cf. Luke 16:10).

  • Apostolic Esprit: as you look at the local predicament and your capacities and resources, what energizes or animates you and those you lead. In other words, what lights your fire and compels you to move to action?

As a leader and with your team, taking the time to discern these three elements will empower you to discover your personal and organizational identity. More importantly, it will help you to find how can can uniquely and gracefully impact the world.

Sherry and I are working through this now as we discern our graceful future as missionaries in Uganda East Africa. We are on a mission to equip pastors and leaders to plant disciple-making churches in partnership with the Ugandan Assembly of God. That is who we are and that is what we bring to the table of our organization.


Dr. Davis

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