“We were gentle…like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children…like a father with his own children.” Christian leaders can learn much from these verses. I have observed many Christian leaders who talk about and put their visions/dreams ahead of relationships. For Paul, ministry is a context of family. Leaders are parents who are gentle, tender, caring, urging and encouraging. The goal is that all may actual live a life worthy of God who saves us and calls us. Are these parenting fruits part of my ministry with people? Lord, have mercy and make me to lead like you.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” Christian leaders are often tempted to focus completely on the future. We need to get somewhere. The pressure is, “where are we headed”. Yet, the scriptures often instruct us to remember, to not forget, where we’ve been and what God has done in the past. When we are not praising God, is it possible we are forgetting something? -Bless the Lord, O my soul, and help me not to forget all your blessing O God.
“…what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Wow, would we not love Jesus to say a remembrance of our work and ministry will be told right alongside of the Gospel? It is the temptation of many leaders and ministries to be “known.” But what is the woman known for? Why do we know of her, but not know her name? What might this mean for my leadership in the church and in ministry? – Jesus, forgive my foolish pride and teach me to be satisfied with your love and with loving in return. Amen
“Lord, half of my possessions, I give to the poor…” Jesus affirms that “salvation” is more than just words; it involves the action of our lives. Changed people, change their ways. Isn’t it easier to talk about new ways and changed behavior than to actually “live” it. Do my actions show a change of heart? Does my behavior prove a life of faith in Christ? How does the living of my life impact my leadership? – Father, I pray that I might not ask others to do, that which I have not. I pray that I might live the life I talk about. Amen.
“‘How can this be,’ Nicodemus asked. ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and you do not understand these things?'” Nicodemus had some blind spots, unknowns, and questions. The image of having all the answers can be a mirage in the desert. What things “do you not understand?” Father, I depend on you; Jesus, free me to admit “I do not know everything:” Spirit, grant me wisdom to understand Your ways and movements of grace.
“Tend the flock of God…” Peter offers a string of advice to Christian leaders: Tend the flock (2), humble yourselves (6), cast your cares on God (7), discipline yourself (8), resist the devil (9). Peter seems to have a different kind of advice than what I hear at many pastors and leader’s conferences today. What does humility, casting our cares on God, discipline, and resisting the devil have to do with Christian leadership and tending the flock of God for you? In the midst of mission and ministry; Jesus, help us stay close to you heart and your ways.
“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…and sin gives birth to death.” James shares an anatomy of sin, how it works in us. Perhaps God would rather transform our desires than simply work at changing our behavior. Is temptation best dealt with at the point of desire or later in the chain James describes? How is desire transformed? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
“But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.” Jesus tells a “tale of two sinners.” One who knows their great debt and finds forgiveness gains a heart of love for others. One who does not acknowledge their own debt seeks no forgiveness and shows little love toward others. If Christian leadership and ministry is ultimately about loving others, who is best fit to minister? How much do I love people? How grateful am I? Reveal the depths of my heart Lord, that I may know Your love and show it to others.
“The God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion…” God, the Almighty and All-Powerful, decides to share his creation project with us. He calls us to help us “rule” all he has made and do so as those made in his image. What are the implications of God’s sharing his rule, for all of us who lead in our families, in our work places, in our churches, and all places? Is it easy for us to share power? Teach us your heart for leading Almighty and Loving God.
“In the beginning…the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said…” God’s act of creation does not settle with making something out of nothing. God speaks with the power to bring form and order to it all and to bring light to the darkness. What does God’s action suggest to us about the purpose of those called to lead in the family, the church, and the world? May our leadership in all spheres follow your heart and your ways O God.