The Balance Of Grace & Truth
In whatever we lead, inevitably, there will be moments when we have to confront the fact that someone we are working with has fallen short of what was expected. This is one of the most unpleasant moments in a leader’s life, to have to point out or deal with the underperformance, failure, or downright neglect on the part of someone you are leading.
Ephesians 4:15 puts it like this, ‘But instead, speaking the TRUTH in LOVE, will grow in every way more and more like Christ…’
Both of these qualities are essential for developing the people who follow your leadership. LOVE allows for redemption. It makes people feel safe to open up and be vulnerable. It creates an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement, which allows people to be honest about their mistakes so that they can address them, be forgiven, and change.
TRUTH allows for genuine growth. We all have a tendency toward self-delusion. We don’t like to face our failures, address our weaknesses, or be held accountable for our procrastinations. But only truth-telling will build people.
Consider some examples from the movies: Mr. Miagi mentors Daniel-son by the unique combination of truth and love. He tells him the hard truths about how difficult it will be to learn the skills he needs in time to fight. Yet, he defends him, gives him a car on his birthday, and opens up his own life and describes the pain he endured following his wife’s death. Miagi puts Daniel-son through rigorous discipline, points out his failure to perform a skill, and then teaches what is lacking.
What is we did this as we equip people for ministry? What if we told the full truth in complete love with lots of grace and we did it with consistency for those we are trying to develop?
1. If we speak the truth – we will lose people. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid facing the truth about some area of weakness in their lives.
2. If we withhold the truth – we will stagnate people. They will never grow because they will never know what they need to address or how to improve where they are week.
3. If we are high truth and low love – we will destroy people. They will feel beaten up and run over. While they may have an awareness of where they need to change, and even how to change it, they will lose heart because they feel that they are not valued no matter what.
4. If we are high love and low truth – people will feel accepted but then they will stall. Much will remain ineffective or inefficient, and the entire organization you lead will start to pretend. No one will want to say aloud what everyone knows to be true – for fear of hurting feelings.
Courageous leaders need to do both. Combine high truth and high love so that great leaders can be built and released into God’s great work.