Have you ever experienced a time when you felt parched?
Maybe you were thirsty and feeling dry, as if your tongue was stuck to the roof of your mouth. You longed for a drink, for even a mere glass of water to run down your throat cooling the scratchy ache with refreshment.
Perhaps you have experienced an emotional or spiritual drought. A dry emptiness that just has your soul feeling sparse, dusty, and parched. You long for refreshment, but it seems to be harder to find than reaching for a glass of water.
Leadership is not one of my strengths or spiritual gifts. To those God blesses with the gifts of leadership, the Spirit enables them to motivate, direct, and inspire people in such a way that they desire to do the work of the church with eager hearts and effective hands. Leaders give the confidence to step forward, give direction, provide incentive, and follow through to fulfillment of the vision. They lead with care, concern, and foresight.
The gift of leadership is incredible and amazing. I love leaders. I love being around them. BUT, I am not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we can all be leaders in the way we live our lives, by the example that we set. But the gift of leadership is a greater calling, one that I have not received.
I do have a deep heart for leaders. I enjoy spending time around them. In my past, I have been mistaken to have the gift of leadership and have tried to be a leader with less than stellar results. It’s been both a good and challenging lesson to learn.
One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
“Have confidence in your leaders
and submit to their authority,
because they keep watch over you
as those who must give an account.
Do this so that their work will be a joy,
not a burden,
for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Make their work a joy. Encourage up!
Many people will talk about the importance of appreciating and valuing those who work for you. I agree with my whole heart that if you deeply value a person their individual richness will vibrantly shine through.
I find there is also a great value to appreciate those whose leadership you are under. Encourage up the chain of command as well as down. There are more leaders in our lives that we acknowledge most days.
Bosses. Managers. VPs. Employers. Boards of Directors. Teachers. Professors. Principals. School Boards. Pastors. Elder Boards. Deacons. Volunteer Coordinators. Directors. Leaders each and every one of them. Each of them individuals who could use some encouragement in their days.
Called Beside to Help
While I do not have the gift of leadership, I do have the gift of encouragement. In Greek encouragement is parakaleo. Para means from close beside. Kaleo is to make a call. Together they mean called close beside.
That is where my gifting lies…coming close beside people and offering them what I do have to encourage them with love, passion, enthusiasm, and prayer. Historically, I have found that a lot of times the call is for a season. Often times it is for a season of transition, a season of strain, a dry time, a parched time.
Isn’t it the parched times when we are in greatest need of someone to offer us refreshment and encouragement?
When I was younger, I thought I had bad luck. The decisions I made seem to lead me to situations that were complicated and stressful. I would endure for a time, then would be given an opportunity elsewhere. When I would leave, the team I left would find great success and the team I joined would begin to struggle.
I often asked myself why others seem to benefit so much more than me in the same roles that I was in. My personal insecurities told me that I was no good. No good at this, no good at that. Never good enough. Selfishly, and narrow-mindedly I thought I was the source of all the problems.
With maturity and experience, a whole of lot prayer, and revelation wisdom, it became clearer that we will all have trouble and have suffering. While I have made plenty of mistakes and messed up a lot, I am not the source of ALL troubles…as my insecurities attempt to get me to believe.
The blessing was in experiencing the hard times along side of leaders that I learned how great the need is for encouragement. It’s also how I learned I had a gift. A gift that is best used in times of strain, stress, and dry parched times.
Loving the Work of the Leader
In the Bible there is a great little one chapter book called Philemon. It was written by Paul to Philemon. The study notes in my Bible say that Philemon was probably a wealthy member of the Colossian church.
Paul was writing to Philemon to ask him to forgive Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave belonging to Philemon. Onesimus was a runaway slave, but he had become a brother in Christ and ministered to Paul while Paul was imprisoned in Rome.
Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon with his appeal that Philemon act in generous love towards Onesimus, accepting him not as a runaway slave but as a friend and fellow worker for Christ.
Philemon was under Paul’s leadership. Paul was so gifted at encouraging, motivating, and caring for those in his charge. Paul followed the leadership of Jesus to love God, and love people.
I read in my study notes that Philemon likely opened his home as a place for the Colossian church to meet. To me that willingness to give of himself like that showed Philemon believed in the work Paul was doing and the people Paul was reaching out to.
I can hardly imagine the passion, enthusiasm, and love that Paul had for the people he ministered to, the work he was called to, and the ways he suffered as he served others. What an encouragement to know that when Paul himself was bound in chains, others like Philemon were dedicated to continue to work under Paul’s leadership.
Paul acknowledges Philemon by writing:
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
because you, brother,
have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”
Philemon 7 (NIV)
To love and support the work of the leader, is to be able to refresh and encourage the leader.
Live It Out
Who are the leaders in your life?
Are any of the leaders on that list facing a parched, dry, or stressful season in any area of their life?
How can you make their service a joy, can you encourage up?
Are there ways that you can come along side of them today to offer them some refreshment?
For all the leaders: Your gift is of incredible worth and priceless value! You are a treasure whose work impacts this world with greater intensity and duration that you may recognize in the daily tasks you put your hands to.
It can also be a heavy weight upon your shoulders, a weight that others likely do not even see, let alone understand the responsibility of. Know that you are not alone, never alone. Jesus is with you and calls to you with a perfect yoke, a sharing of the weight, strains, and burdens that you face.
May I simply say, from every supporter and encourager THANK YOU!!! Thank you for giving so generously of your time, talent, treasures, energy, and efforts. It is not easy to motivate, inspire, give direction, make correction, and coordinate efforts in an effective manner. I recognize your sacrifices with deep appreciation and gratitude.
Pray Through It
Thank You so much for being a leader that all of us can be yoked with. Lord, the calling of leadership that You place upon hearts is a gift to be cherished. Not because it is better than any other gift, but because it is so important to the proper functioning of the body of Christ.
Lord, for all of us who support and follow, help us to recognize the work and sacrifices leaders make. Help us to make their service a joy and to be of an encouragement to them.
Lord, reveal to us the actions we can take in this day to pray for our leaders, to write them a note, to take the time to acknowledge their work with our words, or to just offer them a refreshing glass of water.
In the name of the greatest leader of all, Jesus, amen.