You Can’t Compete With Grace

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Last week I attended a Strategy conference featuring some fancy Harvard Business School professors at a swanky California seaside hotel. During one of the luncheons, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman seated next to me, a sturdy-looking man who worked for a large charity organization in the Midwest.

The word “Grace” was prominently emblazoned on the logo on the front of his blue denim shirt, as it represented the first half of his organization’s name.

We chatted about the session I had just come from, which was on the subject of competitive intelligence. He was intensely interested, and began to badger me with questions in an attempt to acquire some sneaky tactics that could be used to better position his own organization in the marketplace. It seemed odd, to think that a charitable organization with the word “grace” built right into its namesake would be so hell-bent on competitive warfare. But what do I know.

I tried hard to keep up the conversation, but the cognitive dissonance was killing me, like fingernails on a chalkboard. I started getting a headache. Finally, I could take it no longer.

“How can anyone possibly compete with grace?” I blurted out, exasperated, pointing at his monogrammed shirt.

He glanced down at his half-eaten plate of salad Nicoise with a rueful smile, unsure of how to respond.

“Well, yes, that is true.” He said. His voice was suddenly conciliatory, almost pastorly. “You can’t compete with grace.”

I thought about that for the rest of the day - the inexhaustible, infinite, gift of loving kindness that God has lavished upon us, how it is available 100 percent of the time, all for our benefit, with absolutely no strings attached. For me, when you break it all down, grace means simply this: I am going to be okay.

The problem is that we do compete with grace, in all sorts of ways. Our needy, mistrusting, narcissistic lizard-brains are constantly introducing a tantalizing assortment of dark alternatives to consider instead. Why surrender to God’s infinite love when I can just as easily go down a stink-hole of obsessive insecurity all by myself?

It’s madness, really.

Perhaps it stems from the fact that we operate in a work environment based on laws of economic
scarcity: limited supply; constrained resources; competing markets. This is the context in which we are trained, it is how we lead, move and make decisions.

But in God’s economy, there is no scarcity of grace. It comes from an unlimited, infinite source that is constantly available, everywhere, all the time. Kind of like the ultimate cloud network.

Just because we are operating in a cut-throat, competitive environment doesn't mean we can't access that grace. Instead of fretting and fuming, why not view the messy little situations as an opportunity for God to reveal his infinite love? It could change everything.

My new conference friend and I turned our conversation towards more pleasant subjects: what kind of work his organization did; our mutual interest in strategy; the breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean from our table. I can't tell you what his take-away was, but one thing I do know: don’t ever try to compete with grace, because it could eat you for lunch, if it wanted to.