Environments of Grace

Tony (who has a great blog I follow) shared the following quote on Friday:

Most people know an environment of grace when they see it. They simply point to the results: people feel safe, they grow up, they trust each other, they live authentically, they celebrate each other, they laugh a lot, they produce better. But in some environments, grace is so evident you can feel it from the first…
– The Ascent of a Leader

When I read that quote a few days ago, one question kept ringing over and over in my head: If I were to be unknowingly observed, what would the analysis of my life be?

Do I lead a family that lives out a demonstrated faith?
Do I foster healthy communication of trust and truth?
Do I create environments of grace?

When I stop and think about it, oftentimes I fail to live out those things. I discipline my kids because my patience is thin. I shortchange engaging with my wife because I want to watch some television. I avoid the coworker because “he always talks about himself”. I am not thoughtful because I want to do the things that I want to do.

My selfish nature creeps in and reiterates the lie that its all about me. This is sobering because, in the end, I am called “to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with my God” (Micah 6:8).  When I do that, the truth rises to the surface: it’s about God, not me. With that verity in place, the environments that I create will be more inviting, safe and upward-focused.

The challenge for me today is this: in my home and in my work, if I take steps toward building environments of grace, the heart of the matter will come to the surface. That being, people matter.

What can you do today to create an environment of grace in your work or your home?

56 Comments

  • Donald Borsch Jr

    February 14, 2011

    Dustin,

    You said:
    “The challenge for me today is this: in my home and in my work, if I take steps toward building environments of grace, the heart of the matter will come to the surface. That being, people matter.”

    This is a great mindset to bring us into this week. And, heh, the rest of our lives this side of Heaven. Environments of Grace. Nice.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      thanks, Donald. Always appreciate you stopping by with your thoughts!

      Reply
  • Adam

    February 14, 2011

    Give my undivided attention. Lots of times I try to do other things when I just need to focus and listen and focus and give of my time and make the person feel welcome.
    I have the same problem about doing what I want to do, which probably aids to the above. Really need to work on stopping being so selfish and put others before myself.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Adam, I’m with you on undivided attention. So with you.

      Reply
    • Nathan

      February 14, 2011

      Yes – I’m right there with you Adam, on all points listed. Can’t say it any better myself.

      Reply
    • Larry Hehn

      February 14, 2011

      Same here. I try to cram so much stuff in that I don’t always give my family the attention I should. Well put, Adam. Great post, Dustin!

      Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      @Nathan and Larry – thank you both for the comments. I appreciate you both chiming in!

      Reply
  • Tony Alicea

    February 14, 2011

    I just posted this on Tony’s (great name by the way) blog. I said that the two keys to creating an environment of grace is 1) a safe place 2) freedom. When you create an environment of fear and control, there is no safety or freedom to make mistakes. Thus, grace cannot be poured out in the way it was intended.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Tony, thanks for sharing that. Spot on. By the way, thanks for sharing your story today… really enjoyed that.

      Reply
  • mo

    February 14, 2011

    Wow, my list mirrors your’s pretty much exactly.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Not alone, mo. Definitely not alone.

      Reply
  • Jamie @ See Jamie blog

    February 14, 2011

    Wow. Great reminder. This goes along with a lot of things I’ve been thinking lately, but I like how you put it. I tend to forget how selfish my nature really is — until I realize I’ve said or done something that was clearly NOT full of love and grace.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Jamie, thanks… and thanks for stopping by again!

      Reply
  • Tom Raines

    February 14, 2011

    Awesome message! If we live in His grace we reflect His grace. I pray I face my family and work in His grace today…Thanks Dustin!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Refecting His grace in our lives is always a good thing. :)

      Reply
  • Moe

    February 14, 2011

    Welcome to the selfish club Dustin. Have a seat. There’s free coffee and donuts by the table in the corner.

    I would like to listen more, speak less and give people the benefit of the doubt. My life isn’t more important than others. It’s that denying of oneself that is a challenge.

    I once heard someone say in Spanish, “stop trying to live the life of a yo-yo”. That makes sense when you know that “yo” means “me” in English. We live lives that say “me, me, me!!”

    Hey it’s that Donald taking 2 donuts? What a selfish dude!! ;)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Dude. I live a yo-yo life all the time. :)

      >>”listen more, speak less”

      That’s interesting… because I feel that my life sometimes needs a little more of the opposite. I mean, I know listening is a great thing (giving people the opportunity to share, etc)… but sometimes I feel that speaking up, defending, and the like is something I want to do more often. Sorry for just going on… I guess it’s kinda different… :)

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    February 14, 2011

    Listen more, speak less. That is what I can do.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Thanks for sharing Matt. You and Moe are doing this thing together! :)

      Reply
  • Jay Cookingham

    February 14, 2011

    Tremendous encouragement bro’! Setting up a ongoing environment where my family knows they will be heard. Maybe not agreed with but still each voice is listened to and validated. This is a huge task but a rewarding one!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Validation is so key. I’ve found that to be true even in my marriage. My kids are young, so I know I’ll get to that point one day. But with my wife, so often she just wanted to know that she is heard, she matters, and that I show her that she matters to me.

      Reply
  • John

    February 14, 2011

    I can be more patient. I can learn to handle conflict graciously and not get frustrated and feel like curling up in a ball and hiding.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      John, I can be more patient as well. Funny though, I can appear patient on the outside, but in my head I’m not patient at all.

      Reply
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  • Michelle

    February 14, 2011

    Man, I’m not gonna be very good at answering this today! I’m sick and my patience is really thin. My kids are getting on my nerves. It’s taking a lot for me not to yell today. And yeah, its not about me. It’s hard though when I’m sick to rise above and be the strong one. You make good points though. We all can nurture areas of grace in our lives.

    On another point, my son is EXTREMELY whiny. He is going through therapy right now and it makes him SO tired and whiny and unbearable at times. He can’t handle when I say No to him at all, even if I say it in the nicest way possible. Today I told him not to hit his sister, even though they were playing around, and he ran off to the couch, head in hands and cried as if I had murdered his dog. I really wanted to tell him to shutup because this was like the 50th time today he did that, but instead, I walked over, picked up his sad self, and gave him a huge hug. I put him on the couch with a pillow and blanket and told him he could watch TV for a little bit (even though that’s probably a big Mom no-no) and he calmed down. Sometimes as a mom, having grace means allowing yourself to look outside the rules a bit and tending to the immediate need. I guess my point is this — at that moment, God gave me compassion for him even though I am sick and he was getting on my nerves and there was no real reason for him to act that way. I could tell he just wasn’t himself and needed some love. I think if we look for those opportunities to love on someone, to have grace with them, God will give it to us. He’s good like that.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Thanks for sharing, Michelle. Hope you feel better. What a touching example of the small ways we can extend grace to our little ones. Really, thanks for sharing!

      Interestingly enough, I was in a similar situation last night. my sinuses have been acting up, thus causing me to have headaches and achyness all around my jawbone (I know, kinda weird). Added to the fact, we (wife and I) were just plain tired and needed to clean the house. My patience was running thin and I had to intentionally chose to keep my cool a couple times. :)

      Reply
  • Brandon

    February 14, 2011

    That’s a really great quote!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      thanks, B – appreciate you stopping by again!

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    February 14, 2011

    I think the biggest thing I need to work on is giving people my undivided attention when I’m with them. Not checking my phone, not updating my FB or Twitter, but to give them complete, undivided attention to show them I care.

    Reply
    • Moe

      February 14, 2011

      I’m with Jason. These devices, though useful, have stolen many minutes from loved ones. I’m guilty of it myself. Yikes!

      Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Ehhh, I am the king of that sometimes. Sadly, especially with my wife. At times, she is like “Really? We’re supposed to be talking right now.” Guilty as charged.

      Reply
      • Jason Vana

        February 15, 2011

        I’m trying to ween myself off of being on my phone all the time, so that I don’t experience the wife smack for paying more attention to FB than her when I finally get married

        Reply
  • Ben

    February 14, 2011

    Good stuff Dustin. This is something I try to practice every day, all day. I think most importantly for me is the communication aspect. I talk to/with customers alllll day long, and sometimes patience wears thin once I get home. In the end everybody matters, but I definitely need to put the effort into what matters MOST.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      You know, I’m in the same boat. Sometimes I’ll make excuses in my head like, “I’ve been on the phone all day long. I just want to drive home and zone out for 20 minutes.” Meanwhile, I don’t give my wife my attention on the ride home when she’s on the other end of the cell trying to tell me about her day. Definitely something I need to be more intentional about… really prefer and chose her during those times.

      Reply
  • KC

    February 14, 2011

    The idea of being unknowingly observed definitely hits home. It’s one thing to be consciously trying to create environments of grace, but is it my natural bent? Hardly.

    I am inclined to be selfish with my time and energy, but being a husband, father and hard worker runs counter to that attitude in every way.

    And yet, when my little girl sneaks up behind me and hugs my leg it makes it all worthwhile.

    Great post man. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Absolutely, KC. Thanks for your thoughts. I think most would agree (myself included) that being naturally bent towards creating environments of grace is not the norm. Also, about our time and energy – that is a powerful insight about it running counter to what the world shows/teaches us all the time.

      Reply
  • kevin

    February 14, 2011

    Tony’s a stud. Glad I get the privilege of coffee with him now and then.

    I suck at grace. Tremendously. Growing up an only child, selfishness has always been my default. Tough unlearning that, but it’s no excuse to continue on that path.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      The beautiful thing is that, if not in our own lives, as fathers we can instill those things (teaching grace) to our kids. Kevin-just from your posts, you do that for Gabe all the time.

      Reply
      • Michael

        February 14, 2011

        Agreed. I look up to kevin.

        Reply
  • Randy Kinnick

    February 14, 2011

    Great thoughts, Dustin. It is sobering to stop and think what the observations of others say about me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Thanks Randy. As always, I appreciate you stopping by. I think most of us are in the same boat.

      Reply
  • jenn

    February 14, 2011

    Grace is not my gift at all. But that said, just because it isn’t easy for me doesn’t excuse me from it. It’s something I’m praying about and trying to work on personally. The more I look at my actions and motives, the more I realize how selfish I can be. I don’t want to be that way.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      That is pretty profound, Jenn – no matter what we aren’t excused from extending grace towards others. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • Jim F

    February 15, 2011

    Spent the day yesterday with my bride so I did not get a chance to read this till today but what a challenge! I have been wrestling with this idea for a couple of weeks. Again – a strong challenge and thanks for sharing it!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 15, 2011

      You’re welcome, Jim!

      Reply
  • Duane Scott

    February 15, 2011

    Environments of Grace… I absolutely love the thought of it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 15, 2011

      Cool! Thanks for stopping by, Duane.

      Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    February 15, 2011

    Dustin, great post my friend. I think these questions demand a lot from ourselves, and I think it’s a refreshing self-analysis series of questions we should ask ourselves daily. Keeps us honest and humble in our relationships with people. Thanks for sharing!

    Tony, kudos on the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 15, 2011

      You’re welcome Bryan. In our relationships, it’s so important to continually ask ourselves these questions to make sure our hearts are in the right place. (Btw, I feel tomorrow’s post will share that similar sentiment)

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    February 15, 2011

    I keep posting about this, but in my struggle with anger, God is constantly showing me ways to increase the grace in my home and I fail… a lot. But, being genuine and that means, usually, genuinely repentent with God and with those around me, helps foster an environment of grace.

    I would never claim to be perfect. People who know me, know that one of my mottos is “Imperfect person, perfect grace.”

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 15, 2011

      Love that motto, kristin. I too never want those around me to ever feel that i have everything all together. As always, I appreciate your comments!

      Reply
  • Sean Sabourin

    February 15, 2011

    Dustin,

    What a challenging question and I am not too sure how to answer that question. For me, I think I just have to make an intentional decision to enlarge my heart towards my family,co-workers and friends and remember it’s not about me. I need to give my heart, my eyes & ears, my time and even my gifts.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 15, 2011

      Sean, thanks for your thoughts. At our core, I think that’s an important message we all need to be reminded of: it’s not about us.

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    February 20, 2011

    I can be more patient (something I am constantly working on).

    I especially need to do this with my parents. As I get closer to moving out they try harder to hold onto me. My early-20-something personality wants to rebel against that. Saying goodbye to this part of our lives is something I should be showing my grace in. It is where I will start!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 21, 2011

      Thanks for sharing, Alex. We’re here for you as you transition in this area.

      Reply

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