Just because we know something doesn’t mean we know how to put it into practice effectively. For example, just because we know Jesus is full of grace and truth doesn’t mean we automatically know how to build a culture full of grace and truth.
So, following up from a previous post that asserted that anything that’s not full of grace and truth isn’t Jesus, I wanted to reflect a bit on what it looks like to follow Jesus in his “grace-and-truth” ness to build a culture of grace and truth in our homes, neighborhoods, churches, and businesses.
The Way Jesus Did Things Matters
The reason we look at the way that Jesus did things is not out of academic curiosity, but because we are seeking to imitate his way of life, his posture, how and why he did the things he did. This is the fundamental difference between a disciple and an admirer.
Recognizing that Jesus was “full of grace and truth” means that we seek to have this same posture operating in our life and leadership. So how do we do that? How do we follow Jesus, becoming full of grace and truth ourselves, so that we can build communities where the culture is full of grace and truth?
Here are some of the tools that my friend Matt and I have been working on together as we coach leaders who are working through these issues realtime.
The Overlap is the Key
The Venn diagram we used last time painted a picture of Jesus being the overlap of grace and truth, and suggested that grace without truth isn’t really grace, and truth without grace isn’t really truth. In other words, when we try to have one without the other, we end up with neither.
[tweet “Grace and truth: when we try to have one without the other, we end up with neither.”]
Another way to represent this truth is to picture it as a 2×2 matrix, where grace and truth together create a culture that looks like Jesus. Grace without truth (which really isn’t grace) creates a certain kind of culture, and truth without grace (which really isn’t truth), creates another kind of culture.
Got all that? It looks a bit like this:
We’ve labeled the quadrants according to the kinds of cultures we’ve seen emerge from different leadership postures. I’ll go over each one briefly so we can name what we are (perhaps) creating in our leadership, and then in a follow-up post I’ll give a few practical starting points for beginning to build a community that’s being constantly filled with more and more grace AND truth.
No Grace No Truth: Apathy Culture
This one’s hardly worth mentioning, because it’s not really a culture. It’s what happens when people give up on life and leadership altogether. They don’t calibrate truth or grace because they just don’t care.
Needless to say, if you find yourself (or what you’re leading) in this culture, get help quickly!
Grace Without Truth: Hangout Culture
When we have a culture where grace seems to be there (again, remember it’s not really grace, it only looks like it), but a commitment to telling the truth is absent or low, we get a Hangout culture.
The highest concern in a culture like this is that we’re all getting along and nobody feels uncomfortable. Anything that brings discomfort or awkwardness is firmly rejected from the realm of possibility. This of course includes uncomfortable conversations involving talking about what’s really going on or how we’re really doing or what we really think.
“Preserving the peace” is of the utmost importance, and because of this, confrontation and truth-telling (and truth-listening) are hardly (if ever) done. Hangout Culture never achieves the peace it hopes for, and doesn’t ultimately lead us to a place of dwelling in the love of Jesus. Instead it simply keeps us in proximity to each other, but separated on a soul level.
Truth Without Grace: Call-Out Culture
In the opposite corner, we’ve got a culture where we are committed to “truth” (which isn’t really truth), but there is very little value on having grace for one another. This creates a Call-Out Culture.
A Call-Out Culture is concerned mainly that things are done “correctly” and every flaw and inconsistency is pointed out and dealt with. There is very little room for graciously overlooking the faults of others (or ourselves).
We call ourselves out. We call each other out. We get obsessed with noticing sin, thinking that by our vigilance we will eventually be able to root it out of ourselves and our community.
Because of this, people in a Call-Out Culture feel it’s actually dangerous to allow grace to win the day. It’s like one of my kids said to me after I asked them to stop correcting their sister, “But then how will she knows when she’s WRONG?”
Needless to say, Call-Out Culture doesn’t result in the righteousness it hopes for, and doesn’t ultimately lead us to a place of dwelling in the love of Jesus. Instead it separates us from one another and creates a culture of fear and performance.
Grace and Truth Together: Call-In Culture
When we bring grace and truth together, we find the life of Jesus. Out of a motivation of love, we are committed to radical grace AND uncompromising truth-telling/listening. This creates a Call-In Culture.
[tweet “Jesus-culture: committed to radical grace AND uncompromising truth-telling/listening.”]
The “Call” part is the commitment to truth. We will speak when truth is needed. We won’t shy away from necessary conflict and confrontation. But the “In” part is the commitment to grace. It means the ultimate point of the “calling” is to bring people “in” to relationship in grace. We tell the truth because we want to see the church living in reconciliation.
The Call-In Culture is something altogether different from both the Call-Out and Hangout Cultures. You can’t simply “add” some truth to the Hangout Culture and get a Call-In Culture (because the “grace” of a Hangout Culture isn’t really grace). Likewise you can’t “add” some grace to a Call-Out Culture and get a Call-In Culture (because the “truth” of the Call-Out Culture isn’t really truth).
Instead, it’s like learning a completely new language. A conversion is needed. We need to rethink everything we thought we knew about grace and truth and sit at the feet of Jesus and watch him work. We take his yoke and learn from him how to walk in this new way of life and leadership, the way of love.
(By the way, this tool is a big part of the training I do at Gravity Leadership. If you’re interested in resources and training for leaders who want to lead like Jesus, live on mission, and make disciples, check out what we’re up to.)
That’s what the next post will be about – some practical steps to begin moving toward a Call-In Culture, full of grace and truth, just like Jesus.
Until then, I’d love to hear from you. Which culture do you naturally tend to create in your home? Your business? Your church?