The Audacity of Grace

Read Ezekiel 34:11-16

I am struck by the contrast between the abusive shepherds of Israel and the Lord, who is the good shepherd. A context of the shepherd’s self interest and abuse we are drawn to the breathtaking faithfulness of the Sovereign Lord. He knows all, and decides to do all to change this ugly pastoral picture into a one of peace, tranquility, protection and blessing.

More amazing is that God does this despite the terrible situation before him. He could have sold the farm, written off the loss, and done one huge cull. His lavish grace draws him to do something else: he took on the shepherds job himself and got to work changing the situation.

What he promises here: to search to restore, to care for, to rescue, to bring to pasture, he has done in Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10), and Jesus continues this work through his church (Matt 28:16-20; John 21:15-19).

When people fail, God will find other ways to bring his purposes to fulfilment

God takes our failing and rebellion upon himself. God steps in and brings restoration and hope to our brokenness. This is the audacity of grace. And we have to learn from his undying commitment to his own saving purpose. When people fail, God will find other ways to bring his purposes to fulfilment. Jesus’ death and rising is all the proof we need.

Q: What do these verses say about your own style of leadership, or about the challenges faced by your own church?

Team Lesson

The people who are least involved in the process tend to demand the most of your leadership resources 

Having just returned from a team meeting, I was again reminded about the importance of every individual’s engagement in the development and implementation of a shared vision. We have a reasonably well developed leadership structure in what is essentially a volunteer organisation (a church community). The nature of voluntary involvement means that not everyone will be at the team meetings all of the time. I was reminded tonight that those who are less engaged in the process require so much more time from core leadership:

  • They  need to be reminded about the core values more than other team members
  • They need to be reminded more than others about the real meaning of the vision
  • They need to be assured more regularly that they are a meaningful part of the team. They may experience considerable self doubt
  • They will struggle to implement strategies that the team has developed

Consequence: As a leader it will be harder to bring them along with you. I wonder whether there’s something like an 80/20 rule here: 20% of your team will tend to attract 80% of you attention – or something like that? I suppose there are also some hard economies: someone who regularly chooses not to engage is probably the wrong person for that area of service or ministry. They may need to consider their place in the team.

Here is an uncomfortable tension: You straddle being a shepherd and a leader. Both qualities are demanded of you, but they are sometimes so hard to harmonise…