Good leaders are sensitive to the needs of others. Paul compared his ministry to a mother who tenderly cares for the needs of her children. I love that word picture. I watched my wife nursing our children when they were tiny, without giving one thought to her own needs. It has been my joy as well to witness my grown daughters caring for our grandchildren too. It's a precious sight to behold.
Watching my wife and daughters gently cradle their little ones close to their breasts, and lovingly providing for their needs, helps me understand what Paul meant by "gentleness." His ministry was marked by a gentle nurturing of the flock. Paul says, "I was like a mother nursing a child, in my manner among you."
If God has placed you in a leadership responsibility, I urge you to cultivate a spirit of gentleness. It is after all a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Your tenderness will work wonders in the lives under your care.
In the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, the world watched in wonder as powerful leaders spent time tenderly listening to the gut-wrenching stories of rescue workers and grieving New Yorkers. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani impressed the world day after day standing before the people of that great city chronicling the grim progress reports from Ground Zero. He spoke softly and compassionately, sometimes with tears, as the gruesome figures stuck in his throat. Somehow he made it through each meeting. Holding back his tears seemed as futile as trying to recover victims from the ten-story mound of twisted Trade Center rubble. Americans needed to see gentle leaders weep.
So do Christians. Spiritual leaders need to be just as real, as gentle, as understanding, and as empathetic. You and I appreciate spiritual leaders who consistently reveal their human sides. Contrary to popular opinion, Paul, the strong-hearted, passionate, gritty leader was also known for his gentleness and grace.
Are you known for yours?