Be Faithful, Brokenness, Ladies Ministry, Life in the Glass House, Live by Grace, Ministry, Pastors' Wives

Ministry Matters: Grace Giver… or Graceless Wounder?


Recently as I rounded the corner of our subdivision on my morning walk, I inhaled a nose full of a wonderful scent. Scanning the area, I didn’t see any flowers, and being new to the south, I didn’t recognize the scent. It wasn’t until my second lap that I pinpointed the sweet culprit- a young magnolia bush with only two blooms on it. Those two beauties were scenting up a whole section of our neighbourhood in a most deliciously pleasant way.

And…as is custom for all of us when we smell something grand, I deepened my breath on the inhale and sighed with bliss on the exhale. It literally made my whole walking time more special, and I looked forward to rounding that certain corner just so I could drink in the blossoms {thank you, Anne of Green Gables!}

Ironically, as I was passing that tree and processing the scent, I was also praying specifically for my husband and I, our life/future, and my own heart. My prayers instantly related to the sweet scent, and I prayed “God, let my life, our lives and our marriage, be like those blossoms. Let us be a sweet scent to those around us. Let us exude the grace of Christ.”

No one would be more aware of my shortcomings and failures than I am. But along with those realizations comes a deep desire to be Christlike, to see life the way He sees it, to understand His ways so that I can live “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”

And, as I moved my thoughts away from myself and my family, I thought of the need for a sweet scent in our ministries, in our churches. I hear far too many stories of wounding by the hands of abrasive church goers, leaders and pastors…and even pastors’ wives. Not only do I hear stories, I am a story. Likely you are a story, too. Graceless interactions are wearisome and burdensome, not to mention discouraging and destructive.

You and I as pastors’ wives…we’ve sat across from a woman with a written list of offenses and unbiblical expectations. We’ve listened graciously while she’s gracelessly torn us to pieces.

We’ve watched our husbands get the brunt of an angry deacon or woman in the church.

We’ve seen our husbands receive death threats or threats of forced resignation when they had done nothing wrong.

We’ve sat under pastors and leaders who had a love affair with control instead of loving Christ enough to lead gently.

We’ve had friends misunderstand, make wrong assumptions, and close the door and the heart of hospitality once and for all.

Unfortunately, we all have stories of interactions with graceless people.

In making sure they have correct doctrine, they have lost the art of grace. In desiring for things to be perfectly in line with how they see God’s will on certain matters, they have forgotten they were talking to a person, a heart.

A person who is deeply loved by God. A person in great need of grace.

In making sure everyone else was following God, they have forgotten that they are not God. And sadly, those people are not usually willing to either accept or to give the grace of restoration.

Oh, how we need the sweet scent of grace in our relationships, our churches, our schools and colleges, our ministries in general. I like the definition of “putting people at ease.” This is not saying that  we smooth talk everyone or coddle everyone. But rather, from a place of brokenness, we see everyone else as desperately in need of grace as we ourselves are. And we level the playing ground where our hearts dwell.

Interestingly, the only thing that heals the wound of gracelessness is grace itself. Grace from God, and grace from others. After every graceless interaction my husband and I experienced in ministry, God had someone {or several people} around us afterwards who infused grace into us. It is this type of sweet grace infusion that makes you exhale in the middle of a deep trial.

This is the beauty of grace- the coming alongside another and saying “I understand. It’s going to be okay. You don’t have to prove yourself, defend yourself. Just be yourself. Just focus on pleasing Christ.”  It’s permission to relax without the bind of legalism and man made perceptions.

There’s a certain kind of person that I always notice, and I have a hunch that you do too. It’s the grace filled person. I know some pastors and men who I have said of in the past “They are one of the most gracious men I know.” I also know women like that. They leave you with a sense of awe and a hopeful spirit. They see you. On the contrary, I know pastors, men and women who are quite the opposite. Exacting and shrewd, they are ready to pounce on any perceived misstep, assumed contradiction or compromise. You only have one chance to get it right or be written off forever.

They can’t see you; they only see how they want to control you.

One is beautiful, soothing, relaxing, and hope infusing. It smells wonderful and invites you to drink it in. The other is ugly, nerve wracking, bad tasting, and anxiety inducing. It really stinks and it drives people away.

There is a desperate need in our homes and churches for the sweet scent of grace. If you find it hard to give grace to others, it is because you do not see your own desperate need of grace.

Graceless people don’t think they need grace.

Gracious people can never get enough of grace.

Oh, may we be pastors’ wives, ministry wives, women who desperately need grace. This alone will open our eyes to how much others need grace. And it will enable us to give it as we receive it from God.

Remember the woman with the list of perceived offenses, unbiblical expectations, and all the things she thought we were doing wrong?  God defended us almost immediately in ways that clearly showed His hand. And also directly following that meeting, my husband said to me “You know, people just need grace. They need so much grace.” Receiving the brunt of a graceless people and experiencing that pain in ministry taught us how desperately ourselves and those we were ministering to need to be given grace. God has brought a lot of good out of that experience in the form of deepened relationships and increased gentleness with people. Many times when people try to destroy relationships they feel threatened by, the exact opposite happens and the relationships actually become stronger. Because of grace.

The wound that gracelessness causes, grace heals.

Ask God to reveal your temperature of grace. Are you a grace giver? Or are you a graceless wounder?

Just a side note here…..That person who is hardest to give grace to? They need it as much as you do. Likely, they have no idea what your life has been like just as you have no idea what their life has been like, what they have gone through or are going through now, or of the pain or guilt they are carrying. You and I- we have no right to extend a graceless spirit to any other person in our lives.

If God would extend grace to them, then we should, too.

That levels the playing ground pretty abruptly, does it not?

Be a grace giver. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6) And even if you are a lone flower in your sphere of influence, you will radiate a beautiful scent that will reach farther than you can begin to imagine.


A Kindred Spirit

4 thoughts on “Ministry Matters: Grace Giver… or Graceless Wounder?

  1. What a great post today! I had a run in with a dear cousin one time. It is a long story but I diffused the situation by telling her, “You can be mad at me if you want to be mad but I am going to always love you.” And that is how I felt in my heart. There was no hurt feelings between us that could cause me to cut her out of my life. I am so thankful for a merciful God who gave me grace instead of justice.

    1. Yes! We have our own choice of how to respond. Many times in ministry others do not make things right. God sees that and is a righteous Judge. He also sees when we make the right choice and will bless us for that. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  2. Hi Leah! Thank you so much for sharing this, I needed it tonight! I’ve been having such a hard time trying to extend grace and forgiveness to some people who’ve hurt me the last year, but I know that I’ve been forgiven so much, so how can I not do likewise?

    1. Abby, your sweet spirit is a blessing! And guess what? We ALL have a hard time extending grace to others who have hurt us. That is why it has to be a work of grace from God to us before we can offer that to others. Putting it all into perspective of God’s grace frees our spirit to give grace into painful places. ((hug)) and prayers for you today!

Comments are closed.