My friend tells the story of a pastor who had a certain way with difficult people. You know: the kind of people who are whiny, needy, angry, insecure, volatile, vain, messy, picky, overbearing, ugly, no-fun, un-hip, clueless, or otherwise not-with-the-program. This pastor asked his staff to be patient with such people, and referred to these unfortunates as EGR: Extra Grace Required. The difficult people in the church needed extra grace.
The phrase Extra Grace Required stuck with me for days. I began to wonder: how much is the regular amount of grace? Is there a grace manual somewhere that details the proper amount of grace for each person? What about people afflicted with multiple shortcomings? (I qualify for several conditions listed above—but I’m not going to tell you which ones.)
(OK, it’s all of them.)
So here’s the first problem: the well-meaning pastor implies that grace is a tool in the pastoral tool-kit. Reach into ministerial bag and grab some ointment labeled ERG. Apply generously, as if grace is something dispensed from the Haves and given nobly to the Have-nots. As if grace is drug, and the minister is the pharmacist. But grace isn’t a salve…Continue Reading