By January 31, 2012 Central, Max Out Blog

Motivation by Grace, by Josh Reynolds, Area Director

Consider for a moment how people view your leadership.  You might say, “I’m not a leader”.  I disagree.  If you are breathing, you are influencing others in some way.  That may be a simple way to look at leadership, but the truth is that we all lead others.  Whether you serve as a coach, teacher, student-athlete, FCA huddle coach, parent, businessman, or pastor, what kind of leadership do you display on a daily basis?  One of the best ways to evaluate your leadership is to examine what motivates your leadership.  In other words, how you influence others will be shaped by why you influence others.  Besides Jesus Christ, one of the greatest leaders of all time was the apostle Paul.  Let’s take just a short moment to peek at his life to see what motivated his leadership.

I recently listened to a sermon preached by C. J. Mahaney titled, “Grace and the Adventure of Leadership”.  The message was directed at pastors, but has invaluable application for anyone in a position of leadership.  In the sermon, C.J. argued from 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 that our leadership should be motivated by the grace of God.  As we consider God’s love towards sinners, most displayed in the cross of His only Son Jesus Christ, we should be profoundly grateful and willing to live our lives for and through Him. 

1 Corinthians 1: 4-9 gives us insight into Paul’s motivation for leadership.  He is writing to a church that was dealing with all kinds of division and sinful patterns.  He spent much of the letter correcting and rebuking them for their lack of love and their abuse of Christian liberty.  But here in the first few verses Paul makes some amazing statements:

I give thanks to my God for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Corinthian church needed to change.  They needed help from a seasoned pastor to help steer them in the right direction.  Now, it would have been very easy for Paul to either distance himself from this local church or blast them for all their errors, but Paul spends the first portion of his letter thanking God for them!!  C.J. Mahaney’s summary statement for his sermon was this:  “Paul’s exemplary attitude toward the Corinthians, and extraordinary affections for the Corinthians, was created by his divine perspective of the Corinthians”. 

Paul had a divine perspective of this church and in much the same way, we need to have a “divine perspective” towards those we serve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a student-athlete leader or a coach.  How do you view those around you?  Do you view them the same way God views them?  Paul’s motivation for this divine perspective was the grace of God in his life.  He had been radically converted and transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and it was this reality that shaped the way he led people.

One area of conviction in my own leadership is that I too often focus all my attention on people’s deficiencies or weaknesses.  Paul’s divine perspective of the Corinthian church is seen in that he was more aware of evidences of God’s grace than areas of sin.  Do you tend to spend more time pointing out people’s deficiency or thanking God for evidences of His grace in their lives?  It is important to realize that Paul is writing to believers.  If Paul was writing to unbelievers, he would probably spend much of his time pleading with them to repent of their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.   But he knew that with the Corinthian church, God’s prior call initiated their faith in Jesus Christ and he was also aware that spiritual growth is a process.  He wanted the Corinthian church, in spite of all their failings, to know that he thanked God for His call and evidences of spiritual growth in their lives. 

Motivating and being motivated by grace in our leadership is recognizing that God is at work all around us.  A great leader helps people perceive where they are growing.  We need to be aware of this broad work of the Spirit in the lives of those we serve. 

Take some time to examine your own heart in light of Paul’s example of leadership.  Are you motivated and motivating by the grace of God?  Do you have a “divine perspective” of those you serve (athletes, friends, employees, family, etc.)  Have you ever thanked God for His work in people’s lives and then made them aware of this work of God?

Leadership is an absolute joy when we are motivated by the grace of God!

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