Lead with grace

By Mark Laird

DM Drayton United Church

To start this story, I must explain I don’t like to be late. I would much rather be 20 minutes early and sit in my car than be one minute late to an appointment.

An example occurred once as I was driving across the country. I was in Saskatchewan and was going to pick up a friend in Timmons on our way to school in St. Catharines. I let them know when I would be there to pick them up and I was within 15 minutes of my estimation … from Saskatchewan to Timmons! I had to calculate sleeping time, eating time, how much time I would need for gas breaks and washroom breaks on a trip that was almost 24hrs driving time alone … it is still something I look back on with pride even 20 years later. 

I tell you all of this to help you to understand how stressful this next story was for me. A few weeks ago, I had a medical appointment in Orangeville. I was in the car and had already left the church to drive to the appointment when I realized I didn’t have my phone on me … I had to make a decision. Do I continue, or take the four minutes it would take to turn back and quickly run to my office and get my phone? I decided that winter driving without the phone made no sense so I turned back … only to not find my phone.  I looked in the car in case it fell out of my pocket, I looked in the snow, looked in my office I couldn’t find it anywhere, after 10 minutes I decided to just go because I was now really pushing it for my appointment…and we know how I feel about that.

I had originally given myself enough time for winter driving but this fiasco with the phone had eaten away at that, and one snow plow and four tractor trailers later, I was very late. I didn’t even have my phone to let them know I was running late for my appointment. I had a conversation with myself in the car, basically calming myself down, and forcing myself to not do anything stupid on the road … I was going to be late and I would just have to deal with it, there was nothing I could do at this point.  

It was hard, it was stressful, I tried (and sometimes failed) not to get mad when I didn’t get through a red light. But I drove smartly, I didn’t drive outside of the weather conditions and didn’t make any silly decisions while driving. I arrived at the appointment 18 minutes late and apologized profusely … and everyone at the office was great about it and said they understood, it happens and not to worry.

I generally think I’m a pretty laid-back sort of person who is able to go with the flow, this situation reminded me that I definitely still have some growing edges, but those edges can be worked on. This was a very good reminder for me that sometimes life happens, we can’t control everything no matter how much we might want to, and we have to just go with it and try to be safe. What it also reminded me was how important it is to act with grace towards other people. The way that the entire staff handled my being late was full of grace and compassion and helped to alleviate the quite large amount of stress that I was carrying into that appointment. 

I am so grateful for the way the staff team approached something that was inconvenient for them. The next time you are in a situation where something isn’t going the way that it should, I invite you to try to lead with grace, either for yourself or for others, and hopefully you will find that by going to a response of grace and compassion first truly does make a difference. 

Now I have to run … it has been a blast, but don’t want to be late for my next gig.