EGR. Extra. Grace. Required.
At one time or another we have all had that person in our small group. At one time or another we have all been that person in our small group. You know, that person in which extra grace is required in order to walk along the path of relationship with them and to point them to the way of Jesus.
Grace is often defined as “undeserved or unwarranted favor” or further explained as “favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace.”
Discipleship in relationship has never been promised as an easy endeavor, and often times it’s simply because it involves us: people. Being disciple makers means we are to be lovers of God and lovers of other people, no matter how challenging or difficult they (or we) may be at times to love. So, how do we love others that are difficult and hard to love? Extra. Grace. By giving extra kindness that is unwarranted. Extra acts of grace are required. By choosing to embrace a disposition of obliging others that are hard to oblige.
Loving others well begins with perspective. The perspective a disciple of Jesus embraces is one that remembers we too can be difficult to love. I know that I have reasons that cause me to act in ways that are unlovable at times, and I need to be reminded that others do too. I need to be reminded that I am called to love others as Christ has loved me. Especially when I am difficult and seem unlovable. When I am inconvenient. When extra grace is required for me.
From that perspective, here are three approaches to navigating and loving others in our groups well, where extra grace is required.
1. Curiosity before Correction – the why behind the what
Discovering the why behind the what can often guide us to addressing the cause of actions, rather than correcting the actions themselves. A key to discovering the motivation of another is to be genuinely curious. Ask questions. Seek to understand. Embrace a disposition of obliging someone before guiding someone them. Pray for wisdom and discernment. If we can embrace curiosity before correction we can often times help correct what is causing issues instead of the symptoms of them. If we already know what is causing issues, well…
2. Establish and Reinforce Healthy Guidelines
Establishing healthy participatory and relational guidelines within a group can help guide those that are difficult in the group towards healthier relationships and group experiences without having to specifically address the individual. No cross-talking, being self-aware of participation or lack thereof, using “I” statements, committing to confidentiality, listening and not fixing each other are excellent guidelines to establish and repeat often.
3. Inside or Outside – Where to address issues
A disciple maker who loves others well is one who learns to discern when and where to engage others in the most loving and effective way. Sometimes the best and most loving engagement with those who require extra grace happens in the group with others present, whether it be an encouragement, a challenge, a praise, a correction, a prayer, a patient ear, a humble rebuke or a fervent call to action. In group engagement creates accountability, awareness and participation from others, but may also cause unintended embarrassment, frustration or offense. Sometimes the best and most loving engagement occurs outside of group, in a one on one environment, where privacy and directness are required.
We are called to love others as Christ loves us, with patience and pursuit, with a perspective that we too can be hard to love and that we all need a little extra grace that’s required.
Blake Whiteman – Lead Pastor
Real Life Ministries Cd’A
Coeur d’Alene, ID