leadership

God Commends the Weak

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Did you know that in the book of Revelation, the church in Philadelphia was commended because it had “little strength"?

In our modern world that is a very strange basis for being commended. Modern society values strength. Our media driven culture beckons us to be men of steel and women of iron. The city in which I live heralds, for example, that we are “Baton Rouge Strong” and “Baton Rouge Proud.” God, however, says that it is the weak, those that have recognized their minimal strength who are to be commended. Why is that?

Let’s ponder Moses for example; he was a man of great strength. Raised in the court of Pharaoh to be a leader in the nation, he was trained to be a warrior. When he thought the time had come for him to deliver his people, he mustered all the strength he could and killed an Egyptian, but failed to rally the people around him and ran like a scared rabbit into the desert.

There, he spent the next 40 years tending sheep and growing weak. How do we know that? Because when God appeared to Him, to call Him to lead Israel into freedom, he bemoaned that he was not the kind of man God was looking for. Early in his life, Moses thought he was that man because he was strong, but now that he was weak he could not dream of being a leader. He thought himself a nothing and informed God that he could not speak very well. Ironically, the book of Acts tells us that Moses was the most eloquent man in all the earth!

So how are we to explain that? Some say that after spending 40 years with a bunch of sheep, any of us would speak b-a-a-a-a-d too! I don’t buy that. I believe that after his failure, Moses no longer trusted in his natural resources, he recognized that he was not up to the demand, which forced him to depend on God in a way he would never have without his failure. His failure opened his eyes to his true state of weakness so that he could then see the greatness of God that would be exercised by God on his behalf; transforming him into a man who received the strength of God!

Though this is a hard lesson for most of us to learn, it is one that we desperately need to understand. The Holy Spirit told Paul that when he was weak, then he would truly be strong because he would no longer be trusting in himself, but in God. This is why God would offer that “not so strange” commendation for those who have little strength. I want to hear that commendation, and I hope you do too, for it is the true path to the strength we desperately need to secure to live victoriously in this fallen world.

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Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
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The Balance of Love

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The great American entrepreneur John D. Rockefeller stated, “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” The most powerful leadership tool available is the ability to get along with other people; to be able to relate to people and not only to understand people but encourage them. The apostle Paul certainly fit this bill.

In the second chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul states that he cared for them like a nursing mother gently cares for her own children. There is nothing so dear as the love of a nursing mother. Paul also went on though, to declare that he was like a father to the Thessalonians. In that context, he affirmed that in the role of a father he exhorted the Thessalonians; simply put, he spoke the hard words, the strong words that we all need to hear sometimes.

I love that he chose the word "parakaleo," which literally means to "come alongside." What a great lesson for us to learn! When we have to speak those hard words to the ones we love, those words are best spoken not with a finger in another’s face, but instead with an arm around them, communicating our love and acceptance of them, even if we do not necessarily accept their behavior.

Further, Paul instantly added that he encouraged them. It is not enough to just exhort others. If all we do is exhort people, we will soon have very few friends because they will run when they see us coming. Paul, however, balanced his hard words with loving words; words of encouragement. It is the same word used when Jesus comforted the family of Lazarus. It is the word "hekostan," and it means the "tender, compassionate, restorative empathy given to one who is struggling, burdened, or heartbroken."

Paul knew that in a very harsh world it's easy for someone when they hear a negative word, to become discouraged. He was quick to add words of encouragement, quick to play the role of a cheerleader and stress that he believed in them and anticipated that the best would be expressed by and through them.

Paul is a great example for us in terms of dealing with people. May we love others enough to say the strong words, but care enough for them to speak the encouraging words as well.

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Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
Interested in joining? Signing up is easy:
Get on the list here.