How are you doing this week? Has anyone told you that you are doing a great job? Even though I can imagine that you don’t feel that you are, I want to assure you that God has not abandoned you.
The people entrusted to your love and care are looking to you for connection. Those with whom you live, work, and see from a distance on Zoom, or some other form of social media, are looking to you, as their leader, to keep them connected to one another and to God.
Please understand, I’m not trying to put more on you. I am stating a fact. You were created to lead through an unprecedented worldwide health crisis.
Navigating Uncharted Territory
With no warning, you have altered the way you do just about everything. You have watched more than one black man be murdered in the street. You have learned of levels of racism that you never dreamed afflicted your family, your friendships, or your leadership. As you have tried to make sense of it all, you have done it without a single hug or needed affirmation.
Although you hear me say that you were created to lead in such a time as this, you don’t feel equipped for this. You feel overmatched and overwhelmed. And at best, you feel disconnected from the community that has shaped, formed, and affirmed your identity.
From where I stand, I think you have done a fantastic job navigating uncharted territories. As you have met the challenge, you have become who God created you to be. I want to affirm your leadership by reminding you, that as a follower of Jesus, your leadership is rooted in your relationship to God and to the people entrusted to your care.
From the perspective of Matthew, the first followers of Jesus were to teach others to obey everything Jesus had taught them (Matthew 28:20) with the assurance that Jesus would be with them. The question is “What had they been taught?”
From Matthew’s perspective, God sent Jesus to teach us how to live before God or how to live a holy life. For Matthew, at the heart of holy or righteous living was relationship. The words “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” is what Matthew wants us to know about living in relationship with all the people around us. Being in relationship with God and with one another is what it means to be a Jesus follower. Being in relationship with God and with the people entrusted to your care is the foundation of effective leadership.
5 Reminders about Effective Leadership
Let’s think of it this way. Effective leadership is rooted in:
1. Healthy relationships
Whether with family, friends, strangers, or enemies, you have been taught to be proactive in how you treat others. You act on behalf of others not because they have acted on your behalf but because loving others is who we are as a Jesus follower.
Having respect for yourself in such a way that you are a person of your word. It means that you are integrated in your living, that what you are living on the outside in your relationships grows from the convictions of your inner life.
3. Seeking first the kingdom of God.
Being self-aware and keeping all aspects of life in a healthy perspective.
4. Caring for others in such a way that you are caring for Jesus himself.
You are growing to the point that caring for others becomes so natural that you don’t even know that you are caring for Jesus. You lead with care, not to become holy, but because you are holy.
5. Being proactive in forgiveness.
Relationships are so important; your leadership is about investing your life in the people around to the point that broken relationships are restored and become productive.
Being the Leader You Were Created to Be
Jesus says “to obey” the things you have been taught. In other words, it is easy to talk about effective leadership, but it is not easy to be the leader you were created to be. There are times that you are vulnerable and you step out in faith to live out your purpose. You become who God created you to be as you practice your faith.
Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary, Oswald Goulter, who served in China in the 1940’s. An agricultural missionary, he taught people to raise their own food as he loved and cared for their families. When the Communists came to China, they forced him to leave. So, his supporters in the United States wired him money for a ticket home.
His journey home took him to India. While he was there, he discovered there were Jews living in barn lofts, attics, and sheds throughout the city. They were there because India was one of the few countries that welcomed Jews after Hitler expelled them from Europe.
Goulter was glad to see them. It was Christmas time and he visited them in the barn lofts, attics, and sheds saying, “Merry Christmas!” They said, “But we are Jews.”
“Oh, I know, but Merry Christmas anyway. What would you like for Christmas?” They said, “But we are Jews.”
He said, “Oh, I know. But is there anything you want for Christmas?”
Several of them thought about it and said, “It has been years since we have had German pastries.”
Goulter went all over the city and found a shop that sold German pastries. He cashed in his ticket to the United States and bought boxes of pastries. Then he delivered them to the Jews in the barn lofts, attics and sheds. Handing them out, he said, “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!”
Years later, that story was told in a gathering where Goulter was present. After the story was told, one young preacher in the back of the room stood and asked, “Dr. Goulter, did you really do that?”
Goulter, a little taken back said, “Yes. Yes, I did.”
The young preacher said, “I can’t believe you did that.”
Dr. Goulter asked, “Did I do something wrong?”
The young preacher said, “Those people aren’t Christians. They don’t even believe in Jesus!”
Dr. Goulter responded, “But I do!”
The effectiveness of your leadership is seen in your faithfulness to your relationship with God and with the people entrusted to your love and care.
You might not feel equipped. Maybe you feel overmatched and overwhelmed. You might even feel disconnected from the community that has shaped, formed, and affirmed your identity. But the good news is, you are not alone. Jesus is with you as you lead into and through the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty.
Your Next Step
So, here is what I want you do:
- Give God thanks for the opportunity to live and work in this time of chaos and confusion.
- Confess your need for relationship with God and with the people entrusted to your care.
- Place the people, situations, and circumstances into God’s hands.
- Ask God to use you as an instrument of peace and love.
O God, thank you for the opportunity to live and work at this time in history. I confess that I do not know what to do. But, I do know I need you and I need the people you have given me to love and to serve. I place my relationships, the church, and the people around me into your hands. I pray that you will use me as an instrument of your peace and love. By your grace, I offer myself to you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Let me say it again, from where I stand, you are doing a fantastic job navigating uncharted territories. You are growing into the person and leader God has created you to be. Remember, you are not alone. As a follower of Jesus, lead on. We need you to lead us now more than ever before.