VOICES OF THE GRACE MOB :: GOOD TO GRACE (PART 1)
When I was about 15, my buddy and I suddenly realized that things were too calm in our lives, so we decided to get organized and start a boxing league (naturally). We salvaged wood from some torn-down trailers, built a ring, and held our first boxing match. About 8 people showed up, and I bloodied the nose of a kid twice my height.
Then we ran away and left everything to rot in the grass.
I realized that day that there was one major problem with my plan for boxing stardom: I was willing to give a punch, but I wasn’t willing to take one. Thus, in my quest for glory, I committed a fatal mistake – I threw myself into something I had no chance of being any good at. All other things being equal, this problem pretty much guaranteed that our boxing league was doomed from the start.
In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes what it takes to move an organization from good performance to sustained greatness. A central conclusion is that you need a hedgehog concept – one well-defined concept to guide your efforts. And the first criterion for a good hedgehog concept is this:
If you want to be great, and not just good, you must pursue something that you can potentially be the best in the world at.
What if we took this idea, which I’ll call Best-in-World, and applied it to how we approach grace in our lives? After all, shouldn’t we all be living lives of “great” grace rather than just “good?”
To me, “great” grace means tangible grace – the kind that actually causes physical change in the world around me. That is, after all, the model of Jesus, whose grace brings about salvation, healing, addiction recovery, and any number of other miracles. But more often than not, my displays of grace amount to simple “good” deeds – a smile here and a dollar there. It’s entry-level stuff, far removed from the potential that God has placed in me.
Part of the problem is that I’ve never seriously considered a Best-in-World approach to grace.
So I’m going to ask myself a few serious questions, and I think you should go ahead and ask them too. Maybe you’ve done this before, but I bet you haven’t done it in the context of grace.
1. What are my abilities, hobbies, talents, etc? You’ll want to spend some time brainstorming, and you might end up with a pretty long list. Some potential answers include: Writing, teaching, speaking, encouraging, networking, organization, finances, earning potential, music, cooking, photography, graphic design, web design, athletics, etc. 2. What can I potentially be the best in the world at (or at least really good)? This question is critically important. It requires prayer and reflection, and maybe even speaking to some trusted friends. The point of this question is not to set goals, but to engage in honest evaluation. What could you be the best in the world at, if you continued down that path?
3. What will I never be the best at? This one is the hardest. It requires more prayer, more reflection, and lots of honesty. What will you never be the best at, regardless of how much you practice, plan, and participate? And remember, just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you’ll ever be the best (or at least great).
Examining your answers, you ought to have the beginnings of a strategy for bringing radical grace into your everyday life. Rather than engaging in a hodgepodge of activities and efforts – spinning your wheels and growing frustrated – you could be focusing your energy into something very specific.
For instance, you could make a commitment to focus on:
* Encouraging others through written communication. Not just a birthday card here and there, but serious campaigns to flood broken lives with messages of love and hope. (Networking, empathy) * Helping people get back on their feet by organizing their finances and setting up debt payment plans. (Finances, organization) * Allowing broken people to tell their stories of recovery and redemption by co-writing biographies. (Writing, communicating) * Producing high-quality publicity materials for organizations engaged in reaching broken people, for free. (photography, graphic design)
The list is limited only by your imagination and talents. The key is that these types of ideas involve focused commitment and genuine talent, and are only possible when we stop trying to do things without Best-in-World potential. And when we build a strategy around what God has truly gifted us in, our ideas go from novel to radical. Our grace goes from entry-level to earth-changing.
There are, of course, a few other considerations, and they’ll be covered in the future. But for now: pray, answer the questions, and start dreaming. And if you do, let us know what you come up with below!