Weekly Thoughts

Grace in conflict

By Elaine Vitikainen

My stomach tightened as I remembered the situation. I was catching up with a friend about some work colleagues I used to supervise. I cringed inside when I thought about the intense conflict which I had tried for months to mediate. They were good people with genuine intentions, but they had incompatible styles of working. Things got so bad that in the end we all agreed that the only way forward was to separate. I was so sad. I’d failed to fix things. But as we ended it, we created opportunities for them to forgive each other as they moved on.

Imagine my delight when I found out some years later that these people were working together again – this time successfully. At the time, trying to mediate had been so emotionally draining. But what I see now is that, when human strength and wisdom are not enough, God’s grace is always sufficient. It is only God’s undeserved grace which can genuinely restore relationships.

  • How can I be a ‘steward of grace’ (1 Peter 4:10) this week?
  • Who do I need to apologise to or forgive?
  • Where do I need to rely more on God’s transforming grace?

Broke or broken?

By Niklas Eklöv

Critics call the humanitarian system both “broke” and “broken”. There are many signs that they are right. The world is currently facing an overwhelming humanitarian crisis with around 60 million people refugees or internally displaced. According to the UNHCR, it’s likely to get worse.

The UN itself admits that the humanitarian system is broke, but not broken. The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016 addressed the huge challenges.

These words “broke” and “broken” have kept coming to my mind. What is God’s perspective on this? Has not God turned things upside down making “brokenness” into an asset through Jesus?

The Bible tells us God sent Jesus to take all of humanity’s brokenness upon himself (Isaiah 53:5); to bring healing to the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:1, Psalm 147:3); and to restore us into a right relationship with God (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1). What a resource for a broken world. As children of God we are not broke, but broken people being healed by Jesus, and sent into the world following the example of Christ (John 20:21).

This week, take time to reflect on:

  • Is brokenness and vulnerability something that is accepted, encouraged or avoided in your organisation?
  • How could you in your situation this week be a resource for God to bring healing to the world?

We are related

By Elaine Vitikainen

A few weeks ago, I was sat at a Monday morning devotion of one local organisation in the province of Cambodia. Each of the local staff were taking turns reading the verses in Genesis 5, the written account of Adam’s family line. They read through names and the age of each of these people when they died. Personally, I did not really understand what was the point in reading this. Surely, there were other things in the Bible which are more interesting and life changing. 

The one leading the devotion ended by saying how people lived so much longer before. This did not resonate well with me. I still did not find the connection to how it will change my week of conducting an evaluation. However, one of the staff shared about what he thought about Genesis 5. He was reminded of how we are all connected, how we all came from one family line. He said, for him this means we are brothers and sisters. It does not matter where we came from. We are all related. 

This stuck with me. The 15 days of hard work in Cambodia was made a bit easier when I thought about how we are indeed related to one another. When irritation started to creep in with someone, I try to see them as my relative. Walking in the most remote villages, I suddenly saw how I am related to these people too. They don’t speak my language. I don’t speak theirs. I live very differently and my habits are very different from theirs. But in many ways, we are very similar. We are in fact, the same, related and all came from one family line.

This week:
Appreciate how unique and different we are from each other. Yet, remind ourselves that we are all related. We all came from one family line. 


Shaped by grace?

By Rick James

Grace is at the core of my faith. But is it at the core of the way I live? Does it really affect how I behave at work? I don’t think grace has even been used to describe my contribution or performance in any annual appraisal. And yet I believe we are called to be ‘stewards of grace’ (1 Pet 4:10) at work.

Grace is the distinctive feature of our faith. As Desmond Tutu wrote: ‘I preached my only sermon – that God loves us freely as an act of grace’. Grace is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. It is what should set Christian organisations apart from all others.

Yet grace does not fit easily with our current approaches to management. It’s counter-cultural, even scandalous. It’s often misunderstood and misused. Grace should not be an excuse for sweeping important stuff under the carpet. It is about dealing with openly and honestly and honestly with the human condition. Grace is radical and transforming.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if grace characterised our organisational cultures? Our leadership? The ways we relate to partners? Our theories of change? Our office culture?

It starts with you and me. This week think about:

  • How are you being shaped by grace at the moment?
  • What opportunities do you have to be a steward of radical grace?

Weekly Thoughts to inspire your leadership

Leadership is really difficult. Chances are it may be the costliest thing you will ever do. Leaders in the Bible all seemed to have a pretty hard time too. Leading with grace is a daunting calling.

To survive and even thrive in this demanding calling, we have to cultivate a vibrant relationship with God. We need to be able to say, like Peter, ‘Follow me, as I follow Christ’. (1 Cor 11). We believe God calls each of us to be ‘stewards of grace’ (1 Pet 4). We can only pass on what we have received.

We hope this Leading with Grace booklet will help you cultivate your character and your relationship with God. Not in the comparative safety of Sunday services, but in the messy frustrations of organisational life. Use them how you wish, each day, each week, on your own, in your team, at home, in the office… We pray that these thoughts leave you inspired, supported and challenged to become the leader God wants you to be.

Breathing new life, the song continues…

Space for Grace is an approach to inspiring change. It’s about integrating our Christian faith together with thoroughly professional methods in facilitating change. For ten years we have benefited from financial support from the mission councils in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. This has helped us develop a rich resource of case studies and materials and share that learning with a community of more than 500 practitioners. It’s now time for us to stand on our own two feet. The funded element ended in December 2017, but the song will continue and expand. We will adapt the lyrics and melodies to our different contexts, secure in our faith that God is active in helping us and our organisations become the vehicles for this grace that we are called to be.