A Season of Grace

Many times recently, I have seen people in ministry (and “in ministry” may mean senior pastors, or it may mean believers who encourage other believers) who are motivated in ministry by serious character flaws. I’ve seen people wounded in the realm of rejection and fear of failure take leadership positions. I’ve seen people wounded in insecurities ministering in intercession and resentment manifesting in worship and “hands on ministry” applications.

Often there’s been this flavor of “I’m going to make up for these feelings of insufficiency by taking a leadership role where I can be in control!” Or “I want to make sure I keep my position because when I have the position, I’m a somebody.”

That’s never (well, hardly ever) the whole story. Usually, there’s a sincere “let’s expand the kingdom” motivation in there with the misguided stuff.

And yeah, those are wrong motivations. However, I believe that this is a season where God is emphasizing grace. I see His grace showing in leadership issues, in holiness or purity issues, and in relationships.

In leadership: I have seen this pattern over and over recently: His leaders, His servants have flaws showing, and yet He tenderly covers them, cuddles them, and still uses them to the degree that they (we) are able to be used. So it’s not like He’s rejecting the wounded, He’s covering them and using them and inviting them to be healed.

In some ways, this reminds me of Noah, after the adventure of the Flood.

Genesis 9:20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness.

We have a complicated role here. On the one hand, we are to act as Shem and Japheth and cover the nakedness of our leaders: it is not our job to point out their failings, but to fill in where they’re weak. At the same time, it’s not appropriate to excuse sin, or to be content with immaturity. We need to call each other to a higher level of …, well, of God-likeness. We need to encourage ourselves and each others to be more like God, more like Jesus, than we have before.

In purity and holiness: I believe that right now, God is extending a grace to see His people healed. There are believers – both long-time and new believers – who have had wounds in their soul or their spirit, and God is healing those.

There are people who have wrestled with sin – whether pride, control, pornography, gossip, or addictions – and I believe that right now, God is open for business right now to heal those besetting sins, to free us from those bondages. It’s not like He’s unwilling to do that in other seasons; He’s just emphasizing freedom right now.

One of the key areas where He’s setting people free in this season is in the realm of freedom from religious bondages. There are a lot of people who are deciding that “enough is enough!” and are moving out of “churchianity” into a real relationship with Jesus; some are having to leave their churches to do it.

In relationships: I believe this is a season when God is offering healing in relationships as well. It will require as much humility as any thing else (which is to say, a lot), but if we are willing to pursue Him in this, we’ll find healing in our marriages, in our working relationships, between church leaders and the flock being led.

That last one is worth emphasizing: too often, we’ve settled for inadequate or inferior relationships in the church. Too long, we’ve been willing to tolerate manipulation, or leaders who need to control, or who need constant affirmation that they’re valuable. It’s a season where God is granting a greater grace on healing those relationships.

This “greater grace” is not about, “God’s going to fix it while I sit here like a bump on a log.” The grace He’s giving is to approach the “unapproachable topics.” It’s the grace to “speak the truth in love” as we go to people and offer to help them through the tough things that they think they’re hiding, but the whole rest of the world can see. It’s the grace to receive gracefully those who come to us about the plank in our own eye that we’ve never recognized.

My encouragement is to take advantage of this season: firstly, as we examine our own lives. What is there in my life that I need the grace of God to heal? Then, after we’ve examined our own lives, we can go to our brothers and sisters, and ask, “can I help you with this?”

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