Have you fallen into sin and felt disqualified to lead others to God because of it? Let this verse be a reminder of His grace: “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” More than an encouragement, this is an exhortation to take heart, rise up again, and keep stewarding the calling of God in our lives to be messengers of the gospel.
Leadership is costly.
This is not to say that leadership has no rewards and benefits. There is certainly a level of satisfaction to seeing progress and growth as we serve in any capacity as a leader. But our tendency is to focus on the highlights rather than on the heavy lifting of leadership.
As leaders, we must learn to embrace the weight and responsibility of leadership. Leading in uncertainty is one of those times when we feel the reality of this weight. But we are also made aware of the responsibility when we lead with our sinful tendencies.
We know that there is grace for the unqualified leader—that despite a person’s lack of qualifications in terms of skill and character, God gives abundant grace for them to lead when they choose to obey in faith.
But we have to be reminded that this is the same grace that God pours out to the disqualified leader—that despite any mistake or sin a leader commits while leading, there is overflowing grace to allow them to lead again.
The grace that qualifies us to lead despite any lack is the same grace that qualifies us to lead again despite our blunders and errors.
“. . . for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”—Proverbs 24:16
The Bible has clear guidelines on how to administer healing and restoration to leaders who committed a sin or made a mistake. In the process of restoration, God’s grace works through correction, community, abiding in Christ, and another chance to lead.
Grace through correction. Correction and rebuke are painful. But that doesn’t change the fact that both are acts of grace and both are necessary in restoring a leader.
I have been corrected countless times. There were times when I felt like the correction could have been done with more gentleness, but I couldn’t doubt that it was done with much grace.
Three years ago, I had a knee operation because of a torn ligament. It was necessary to have the operation in order to correct what was hindering me from using my entire leg properly and to fully enjoy activities like hiking and playing basketball. Though the operation was successful, I still had to go through therapy, which involved stretching exercises. My doctor told me that I would feel pain through the course of my therapy, but that was only because I was on my way to recovery.
Any leader who falls or stumbles while leading can be restored through gracious correction and rebuke. No one is ever too far from the reach of God’s restorative grace, but we should remember that though the process is filled with grace, it will involve some degree of pain.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.“—Hebrews 12:11
Grace through community. Just as sin aims to separate us from God, it also aims to separate us from the church community. That is why it is not surprising that a leader who falls into sin has a tendency to resort to isolation. However, we know that isolating ourselves could do us more harm than good. This is true for all leaders.
No one recovers alone. There is no doubt that God can work deeply in a leader’s heart through their time with Him, but God also works deeply in a different and necessary way through the help of other godly people.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”—James 5:16
When I was going through therapy, I realized that what helped me with my recovery was the support I received from friends and family. I wasn’t bedridden, but I was limited. I can’t take credit for my recovery, because I know it was the people in my life who helped me walk again.
No matter how strong we are as leaders, we cannot outgrow the importance of being in a community. When the guilt of our sin pulls us into condemnation and defeat, it is the grace of God through His people that pulls us back onto the path of our calling and destiny.
Grace through Christ. Who can best administer the grace of healing and restoration but the One who embodied it? Even so, because of the guilt of our sin, our tendency is to run away from Christ rather than to run toward Him.
I remember a conversation I had with myself, looking back at my fair share of mistakes and blunders in life and ministry.
“Why do you keep on rising up?”
“Because I am worshiping a Risen King.”
When I sin against God or make a mistake, I go to the cross. I ponder on it. I wrap my mind around it. I stay there for as long as I can.
Then after a while, I move on from the cross to the empty grave. Because grace does not only make us fall to our knees in repentance; it also lifts us to our feet, that we may walk with Him again.
Grace through another chance. One of the proofs of God’s grace in a leader’s life is having another chance at life and leadership. I realized that what hinders a leader from getting back up and leading again is not just the fear of committing the same mistake again, but also the pride of not accepting that he is capable of making such mistakes.
Having the confidence to accept another chance at leadership must not be motivated by the desire to prove ourselves or to show how much we have learned or improved, but rather it must be motivated by the desire to be used by God in whatever way possible.
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” —Romans 11:29
Although the context of this verse addresses the disobedience of the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people, the principle behind it applies to everyone who has fallen into disobedience and has repented, ready to be used by God again.
God’s calling for all of us is to be messengers of the gospel. This means we are all called to lead others to Christ, in whatever capacity. He also has given us gifts for a specific calling. It is encouraging to know that that specific calling and our general calling as ambassadors of Christ are irrevocable. His word tells us that this remains to be our stewardship and our responsibility, regardless of past disobedience.
So take heart, world changer! As a leader who has truly experienced the grace of God despite having fallen into sin, know that the chance to lead again is not from your potential or talent, but because of the grace of God’s irrevocable calling in your life.
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