What Motivates You

Managing the tension between justice and mercy

Are you more justice leaning or are you quick to offer mercy? Both can be great attributes of any person. There is also another sometimes hidden factor that if not discovered will cause either to divide a team and cause you to be less productive.

The Justice League

I’ve always been fascinated by the tension between justice and mercy and how it motivates people one way or another. I am a justice oriented person. When I watch a movie where someone is mistreated it causes me to tear up. I want to fight on behalf off the person who is hurting. Justice motivates me to act on another’s behalf. That’s not all though

Some people may say I enjoy conflict because I am not afraid to enter a confrontation to make things right. That’s not really true though. I don’t like confrontation. I just love seeing justice win the day. I am willing to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable for the long-term good of justice.

What it is really about

If I am honest though sometimes my sense of justice is can become more about me then it is about justice.

When others are not as invested in our cause us justice leaguers can become upset. Part of this is about justice, but it can also be about others not doing as much as we have. In other words, justice-oriented people need to make sure their passion for justice is not just about them getting credit for doing more than everyone else.

Where does this leave mercy-oriented people? Are those likable, friendly, and forgiving people who everyone loves off the hook. Not really.

The Merciful and Kind

Godly mercy is a great thing. It is an attribute that reflects the kindness of God. Some would say that we are most like God when we forgive. But being merciful can also be motivated by self-interest as well.

If you are extending mercy because you are avoiding an issue then your mercy has taken a wrong turn. God is patient but He is also just. Being mercy-oriented becomes self-focused when it leads to inaction. Mercy is only mercy when it causes us to act, be intentional, and takes steps to help better someone else’s situation.

Mercy is what we give to those who have made mistakes as they enter the road to recovery. It is not what we hand out to avoid dealing with problems.

What slows down justice and mercy

We need justice and we need mercy. What we don’t need is self-centeredness. Whenever we mix in selfishness to justice and mercy we pollute the parts of us that make us like God. If we are willing to be selfless then justice and mercy can work together to make a healthy leaders and teams.

Have you ever noticed the tension between justice and mercy? What have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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