Acts 27:35-36 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.
Often leadership requires setting a concrete, obvious example. A two week storm is hard for me to imagine, but thinking about it, they were in a sailing ship that was being carried along with the storm, rather than being in a stationary position for the storm to pass over. The more you think about that, the easier it is to understand why they had so largely lost hope. Not eating was an expression of that. After all, why eat when you’re about to die? To counter that, Paul took the very simple, positive step of not only urging them to eat, but of eating in front of them. Human beings are very interesting. Simply seeing someone do something can make us want to do it too. Seeing Paul eat triggered their forgotten appetites, and they ate too. (Incidentally, that’s why it’s far easier to fast with others, or else completely in private, than it is to be with others who aren’t fasting. Women who can fast while preparing meals for their families are amazing!) The same thing applies to various other things. When the leader expresses courtesy and thoughtfulness toward others, those they lead are inspired to do likewise. When the leader sets aside devotional time every morning, those they lead realize they can do the same. Good leadership is never just words, but action, with words to explain it as necessary.
I have always been somewhat ambivalent about leadership, and that has been a drag on my ministry. I have hesitated to talk about what I do in private, out of a fear that it will just come across as bragging. I am a man of words, and I have tended to tell people to do things without walking alongside them to show them how. Part of that comes from the huge advantage I was given of growing up in such a strongly Christian family, but part of it is also from a fundamental laziness, a resistance to putting out the effort to guide people in something that comes easily for me. That’s certainly not good! That has manifested itself in an unwillingness to delegate, because I’ve felt I could do things better, and it was easier to do it myself than to teach someone else to do it. That’s not leadership! I turn 70 in less than two weeks, and I’m finally getting this through my head! I feel sure the reason others who were called to ministry in this church have left to minister elsewhere has largely been because of my failures in mentoring and leading. Repentance means change, and by God’s grace I intend to repent indeed.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Thank You that Cathy and I will be in Tokyo on the 23rd, rather than here, so the believers will see from experience what is involved in conducting a worship service. I pray that those who are able to be here will choose to participate fully, as a growing experience for them and for the overall health of the church, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!