Tolerance Vs. Grace

We tend to hold standards up for ourselves and others. Largely depending on temperament, the high standards we may set, will be more towards ourselves, or others first and more severely.

In the context of working with others, it’s tricky sometimes to hold a high standard and give grace to others when they don’t meet up to our expectations, or they (inevitably) mess something up. We may be Melancholy, and be dogmatic… they SHOULD KNOW!! Or maybe Choleric… “inept idiots… I’ll keep getting rid of them till I find one that gets it.”

Or on the opposite end, the Phlegmatic or Supine might say, ” oh, it’s no problem, you’ll get it eventually.” This is not a productive approach either. Then there’s the Sanguine… ” What the —–!! Don’t you ——– get it! (10 minutes later….) ” hey, you wanna go for coffee?”

Grace is the great equalizer.

It’s not mushy, unproductive compromise, or sweeping under the rug. It’s perhaps correction, with understanding and instruction. It’s a second and maybe a third chance, with accountability. AKA… Both/And.

“Wow… I see you’re having trouble with getting that right. What can we do to help you understand? Grace. “I know you are all busy here and flooded with requests from every direction…and I don’t want to add to your stress… but I do need to have an answer on this. Can you give me a realistic idea of when I can get that ? I have a deadline too, so I am just looking for a realistic time frame.” Grace

Simply treat others the way you would like to be treated. (Sound familiar?). In Proverbs, we are taught in chapter 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger,  but harsh words make tempers flare.”

Sometimes, we think that the only way to get things done is to be harsh, forceful, even angry, and as I mentioned yesterday, manipulative. It has been a long learning curve for me, to understand that I can be effective and kind, gentle, understanding.

As always, I will give you a practical life example. Way back in the beginning of my leadership journey, I had a young volunteer, and the only reason he was there, was because it was summer and his dad wanted him to do something productive, and not sit around all summer. So he would come in late, was lazy, uncommitted, unengaged. My approach was to bark at him and tell him he was weight that we had to pull along, further helping him not want to be there, and making my job harder.

I shared with my co-leader at the time what was happening. He said, “take him under your wing, show interest in him and assign some value to him… tell him it’s good to see him when he comes in in the morning, and he’ll follow you around like a puppy dog”. My first thought was… WHAT!? He sucks! He does nothing! But I tried it and lo and behold, he became one of the best volunteers we had, and made a significant contribution to the mission. I even gave him some leadership opportunities and he excelled.

I moved away from “tolerating” him, and gave him the same grace my leaders were giving me, as a new leader. I treated him the way I was being treated… with Grace. By the way… that honors God. Don’t take the grace of God lightly, and then make others pay by not extending it to them. God wants to be known, and we should be vessels of mercy and grace in these practical and powerful ways, to demonstrate His Grace.


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