Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leading with Love

"the greatest of these is love"
1 Corinthians 13:13

Have you had to "fill someone's shoes" ?  Take the place of, or succeed, someone very successful?  It's not easy.  I think there's a tendency at the very least, to compare yourself to the standard of whoever you're following.  Even worse, you might try combining the best qualities of that person with your best qualities, which seems like a good idea, but then you get someone who's neither person.  Worst of all, is to try to be that other person.  It ain't gonna work.

This was the position Joshua was in upon the death of Moses.  Though Moses had his failures and his flaws, he was an eminently qualified leader, and I'm sure, was not an easy act to follow.  We see Joshua succeeding Moses, in the first chapter of the Book of Joshua, but the process actually began quite a bit earlier.  In Numbers 27, Moses went to the top of Mount Abarim, at God's command, and looked down on the Promised Land.  They were getting close.  And the Lord reminded Moses that he would not be allowed to enter, because of his sin against God.  And Moses, upon being reminded of this punishment, has a wonderful response.  The response of a shepherd.  He asks the Lord to appoint another leader over the children of Israel.  He asks God to not leave them on their own.  "Let the Lord... set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like a sheep which have no shepherd."

Moses knew what was ahead for the Israelites.  He had been leading these people for forty years, and he knew what his successor would be getting into.  His successor would need to be a qualified commanding general, for there would be battles a-plenty once the Israelites reached the Promised Land.   He would also need to be a competent administrator, delegating authority and fairly adjudicating disagreements.  But more important than either of these roles, he would need to be, as Moses prayed, a shepherd.

Playing more than one role is not easy.  Most of us know that.  We wear countless labels and hats, from "parent" to "spouse" to "PTA Chairman" and "Coach".   Some of the things we do, we may excel at, have planned on, or studied for.  But others we have simply stumbled into.  And it's not easy to juggle priorities.  Especially when our priorities conflict with God's priorities.  So it's important to know what His priorities are.

And that takes us to 1 Corinthians 13:13.  "These things remain," He says, "faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  Love calls on us to be patient and kind; to not envy, nor boast, nor be prideful.  It does not allow us to dishonor others, nor seek our own best; to neither be easily-angered, or hold a grudge.   Love requires us to always protect, always trust, always persevere.

You might be a great leader, or a great administrator; a great speaker or a great writer, but without love, you are nothing.

~ "Though I speak with the tongues
 of men and of angels, 
but have not love, 
I have become sounding brass
 or a clanging cymbal.  
And though I have the gift of prophecy, 
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, 
and though I have all faith, 
so that I could remove mountains, 
but have not love, 
I am nothing." ~
1 Corinthians 13:1-2

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