“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Do you make mistakes? Do hope your leader and those you work with will forgive you of your mistakes? Do you desire mercy from your foul ups, screw up, and hiccups from your boss? Sure…we all do. We all seek mercy.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7 ESV)
Mercy. It’s a word a word not often associated with leadership. But mercy should be a quality of all leaders, especially an Upside Down Leader.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, (Exodus 34:6 ESV)
Extending mercy to those we lead may not seem natural, but it is necessary.
So why should a leader be merciful?
God Has Shown Us Mercy.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—(Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)
A leader needs to be consistent and demonstrate integrity. If God has shown mercy on a leader then consistency and integrity should demand that a leader show mercy on others.
And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ (Matthew 18:33 ESV)
God has shown us mercy and God commands that we be merciful (Micah 6:8, Hosea 6:6).
If we desire to be Upside Down Leaders we will need to demonstrate mercy because demonstrating mercy identifies us and aligns us with God.
So how should an Upside Down Leader show mercy to those he or she leads?
Upside Down Leaders are patient with others. They give extra grace to those whose quirks make them tough to love and to lead.
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (Ephesians 4:2 ESV)
You cannot love your neighbor as yourself without showing mercy. The Bible reminds us that whenever possible we should do good to those around us (Proverbs 3:27), including showing mercy, which we should do gladly…not begrudgingly.
In most cases, those we lead can be afforded a second-chance. Obviously, in some cases that is not possible or appropriate, but in most of our day-to-day roles as leaders we can afford to give those we lead a second chance. We are forgiven so we can and should forgive others.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
Go One Further
An Upside Down Leader will not stop at just showing mercy. An Upside Down Leader will go better and do good to those who made the mistake. Imagine, if the next time you made a mistake, your leader not only showed you mercy but did something to help you.
Leaders of the world will often try to hurt someone or at least get even with those who have hurt them. Leaders who hurt others sink below those they hurt and leaders who get even to those who hurt them, well, stay even. But a leader who shows mercy to those that have hurt them rise above them.
See it not enough just to hold back from punishing a mistake; Upside Down Leadership requires we forgive the mistake.
Build A Bridge With The Unpopular
Upside Down Leaders know that the unpopular, the outcast, the failures…are the ones most in need of mercy. Therefore, Upside Down Leaders build bridges to these people on their teams and within their organizations. Think of it as acts of premeditated mercy.
Value Relationships Over Rules
Upside Down Leaders put a premium on focusing on relationship building and developing relationships. We don’t lead policies, and protocols, and procedures…we lead people. Upside Down leaders put people before procedures.
Build A Mercy Based Culture
Facebook is famous for their mantra, “Move fast and break things.” Only a culture that supports and forgives mistakes could hold such a mantra. Upside Down Leaders benefit from creating a culture of mercy. A merciful culture is better able to innovate because it accepts mistakes as a byproduct of pushing for innovation. This is a powerful culture for any church or ministry.
The Master Modeled It For Us
Jesus, as the ultimate Upside Down Leader has modeled mercy for us. If Jesus is our example, we should attempt to imitate it and replicate it with those we lead.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36 ESV)
Think of how your leadership might benefit from showing mercy…just as you have received mercy. The world is filled with leaders who judge and leaders who condemn. What the world needs is leaders who lead through mercy.