As a young person, I was fascinated with people I thought to be good leaders. One of my best friend’s dad was a retired general in the Army and a Secret Service Agent. He and many like him became my role models.
When I was working full-time as Supervisor for a newly opened East Bay reservoir – Lake Chabot, I started graduate school in the evening to further enhance my leadership skills pursuing an MPA. As an aspiring leader, I made plenty of mistakes because of my intensity and lack of experience. God helped me to learn from those errors in judgement.
If only I had taken the time to explore the Bible more and great Christian scholars like J. Oswald Sanders, who wrote Spiritual Leadership, maybe I wouldn’t have made the mistakes I did. You see ultimately leadership is about combining the words tact and diplomacy. Sanders says, “Combining these two words, the idea emerges of skill in reconciling opposing viewpoints without giving offense and without compromising principle.”
In the Apostle Paul’s early ministry, he, like me, was a bit impulsive and demanding. As Paul began to carefully weave into the fabric of mentoring a thread of love and compassion. During his imprisonment in Rome, he became a spiritual mentor to a runaway slave named Onesimus. His owner was Philemon. After hearing Onesimus’s story and counseling him with love and encouragement, Paul wrote to Philemon, a leader in the church of Colossae, asking him to forgive and accept Onesimus. He beckons Philemon to accept Onesimus with a brotherly love. “Although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you based on love…(Onesimus) is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.” Phil. 1:8-9, 16).
Paul wasn’t afraid to be bold and to encourage the followers of Christ to show a Christ-like love to others. I’m reminded of a similar thought found in Ephesians 4:32: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. One translation has it that we should be especially kind to those who are of the household of faith – fellow believers.
It’s sad, how too many believers feel they are “gifted” to be a critic rather than an encourager. We all need to do a better job of leading in love to preserve harmony and relationship. I know I can do better in this area.
Who is it that has recently offended you? Are you willing to forgive and move forward with your relationship?
What are the lessons you learned from the last relationship that blew up? How can you change those aspects of your personality, style, or approach that was part of the problem?
Being a servant leader is important to understanding how to lead out of a spirit of love and kindness. What is a servant leader to you?