Leading Through Forgiveness and Grace

Mercy Said “No, I’m Not Gonna Let You Go!”

As I was thumbing through the Cross and the Switchblade I came across David Wilkerson’s encounter with Nicky Cruz. As Nicky threatened to kill David, he responds Girl sad“You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you” (C&S, p. 72). David was willing to die so that Nicky could hear how much Jesus loves him and how much he (David) loves him. It reminds me of the song by CeCe Winan “Mercy said No, I’m not gonna let you go, I’m not gonna let you slip away, you don’t have to be afraid, Mercy said no, sin will never ever take control life and death stood face to face, darkness tried to steal my heart away, thank you Jesus, mercy said no.” As servant leaders we are motivated by love because we have experienced God’s mercy and grace and we want others to experience it as well. In Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard asks the questions “Why is forgiveness important as an aspect of leadership?” “Because forgiveness is the way for a heart grounded in unconditional love of God to respond to the imperfections of others.” In Teen Challenge we have many opportunities to respond to the imperfections of others – by forgiving quickly, bringing correction in love and helping our students receive and move forward. “As leaders, the journey of forgiveness must start with us; when we don’t forgive we judge with a view to condemn but when we forgive, we bring correction and restoration” (Blanchard).

“I’ll never forget the day Elaine put her finger on the quality of the love that redeems. “I’ve finally got it figured out, Reverend Wilkerson, ” said the girl. “Christ’s love is a love with no strings attached.” Christ’s love is a love that asks nothing in return. It is a love that wants only the best for these boys and girls. And this is the quality that redeems.” (C&S, p. 165).

The Life of Christ Activates Grace in Us

At our ELP Rep’s retreat Greg Hammond spoke a message on the life of Christ activating grace in us. He said “The death of Christ secured grace for us but the life of Christ activates grace in us.” When Jesus is working in the students lives, they look less and less like the world and more and more like Christ. When our students understand their position in Christ all they want to do is His will and be like their Father – Abba Father. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba Father.” (Rom 8:15). “Grace extends unrestrained fellowship to others in celebration of their inherent dignity as being made in God’s image and as the objects of His affection.”  – Ken Blanchard. Grace activated in our students helps them come alive to the love of Christ and the abundant life only He can give. “If we are going to enrich culture we need to connect our students to the reality of the gospel so they believe it and grace comes alive in them; they start to identify with their Father – they are no longer “self-conscious” but “son-conscious” (Hammond). As leaders, grace is activated in our relationship with the students when we are present for Girls Talkingthem, when we accept that we are limited and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to come in and bring life and light in their situation.

In what ways does the Holy Spirit want to extend forgiveness and grace in your relationships with those you lead?

“If students learn to see this grace activated in them wherever they go, the knowledge of the Lord will fill that part of the world because of His son or daughter; their feet will be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, they’ll preach glad tidings of great joy and help fulfill their Father’s legacy and their Father’s dream – that the glory of Jesus fill all the earth.”~ Greg Hammond.