Mercy is good

Recently I took a spiritual gifts test. Regardless of what you may think of tools like this they do offer helpful personal insight. Anyhow… I took this test and scored ridiculously low on “mercy.” In other words, this test said that I’m not a very merciful person. Unfortunately, my experience and the experiences of those around me too often confirm this finding.

I used to think it was cool to be “low in mercy.” In fact I’d hear leaders, even some pastors say, in an almost proud manner, “I don’t have the gift of mercy,” and then they’d sit back, poke their chest out, and flare up like a male peacock. I started thinking, “Hmmmm… a mercy deficit must be a component of good leadership.” I’m an idiot.

A couple of years ago I started thinking about that proposition and realized, “Uhhhh, wasn’t Jesus merciful? Wasn’t Jesus a great leader?” (The answer is “yes” to both of these questions).

And then I read this verse, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).      (If you want to check out more verses about mercy click here).

I used to think a mercy deficit was cool. Now I think it’s stupid.

I used to think being almost mean was what it took to be a good leader. Now I’m not so sure.

Sure, sure… I know that as leaders we have to lead strongly from the vision God has given us. I know that there are plenty of times we will need to have straightforward conversations with difficult people. I know that we must lead with fortitude and strength. I know this, have done it, and will do it again…

BUT, what about mercy? If Jesus modeled it and still accomplished all that He has accomplished, shouldn’t I reconsider my thinking about the place of mercy in the leadership toolbox?

So these days I’m not so proud about my lack of mercy. In fact, I’m repenting for my mercy deficit and asking God to pour mercy in and through me so that everyone I come in contact with will experience the mercy of God through little old me.

4 thoughts on “Mercy is good

  1. You are right, I think, that mercy needs to be in the leadership toolbox and that we probably too easily dismiss the need for mercy from leaders.

    But there is a difference between being merciful and having the spiritual gift of mercy. In general, spiritual gifts are amplifications or special effectiveness in areas that should be part of every Christian’s life. For example, every Christian should be able to encourage others — but some are gifted in this area with special effectiveness. So mercy should be part of the leaders life, but the gift of mercy is not a necessary requirement for leadership.

    Not that I want you to stop repenting! Those of us without the gift of mercy probably need to pay attention to being merciful more than those who do have the gift. Modeling that “working out of your salvation” is an act of discipleship and leadership.

  2. As someone who once served UNDER a no mercy gift leader, Amen brother to this post. I’ll just stop there. So much more to rant about. But no need.

  3. Right on the money Paul! I used to think the same way. I was very short on mercy early on in ministry. It was always easier to push your agenda and toss people out of the way who questioned anything I did. I just believed that people who opposed me were unhealthy. Yikes! Looking back I thank God for those who had mercy on me.
    Mercy is an essencial quality to good leadership. A leader who lacks mercy is an immature leader.

  4. Great thoughts, Paul! I think we may have sat in the same service when we heard those words from a powerful and bellicose speaker. Those words sat a little funny with me, too. If I understand the heart of God, I believe that He wants us to always be in the attitude of “being willing to work on weak areas…” not that we’re going to create new “spiritual gifts” within ourselves, but to have a heart-attitude of humility to be willing to grow and stretch and have new sensitivities to areas of our personalities which need to be “sanded smooth.”

    Just, whatever you do, DON’T ASK GOD TO SHOW YOU HOW TO BE MERCIFUL!!! 😉

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