As leaders, we’ve dedicate our lives to building up the people around us. Tell me if this sounds familiar: there’ve been times in your career that you learned things the hard way – despite your best efforts to protect yourself from failure…BAM! You’re right smack dab in the middle of it.
And, now having been through a few zigs and zags – you want to help your team and your tribe short cut those learning curves and avoid the pain that you’ve been through.
If our passion is to lift up those around us, why are we so stingy with whom we choose to help?
How do we love people who seem unlovable? How do we advise those who seem unadvisable?
GET REAL!! Stop putting conditions on who deserves your help and your attention.
Those who seem undeserving are the people who need your grace the most.
Is this just me or have you noticed it too? We forgive people, alright; as long as they meet our expectations.
I’ve heard people say things like, “well, I tried to talk to them but they didn’t want to hear what I had to say.” They’re talking about a person completely WRECKED, out of their heads swimming in self-induced trauma. We act like this is the time they should be called on to recite the constitution. We circle like vultures seeing if there is any life left in them. “I’d be glad to help you up if you’ll first say the things, do the things, confess the things that make me believe you don’t have leprosy.”
I was talking to a wonderful Christian leader whose friend wanted to have coffee. The friend had left his wife and his life was falling apart. Yes, his perspective was screwed up. He was traveling on the road from denial to depression. Acceptance and forgiveness were a long way off. This leader refused to talk to him unless he wanted to “make things right”. Really? I know we want that but let’s get real.
One of the most powerful questions I’ve been asked after I got home from prison was this. “Greg, how could we have handled things better? We didn’t know what to say. We didn’t know what to do. You were almost unapproachable.”
Of course I was unapproachable. I was toxic. I had leprosy. There was no way to go back. I had to go through and only those who were durable enough to love me while I was flailing like a dying animal were able to reach me. I have a few stories, believe me. I didn’t deserve it just like I don’t deserve God’s Grace. But that’s when I was actually ready to receive it.
We act like Grace is a consolation prize for people who can’t get it right on their own! Our own love is SO CONDITIONAL we forget we’re not God. And we fail to see how to love those who are literally unlovable.
What’s the unlovable thing you’re trying to make up for? If you want to become the person you were created to be, you’ll have to extend grace to others who don’t deserve it and receive grace you don’t deserve.