The faces of Jesus

We are almost halfway through the year and a lot of the non-profit agencies and charities have started sending out emails to remind people on their mailing/donor lists to consider making a donation. One scripture that is a bedrock for a lot of Christian organizations is from Matthew 25.

When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Matthew 25:38-40 BSB

All over the world, the faces of the poor, hungry, economically and sometimes socially disadvantaged have been used on fliers and infomercials to communicate this scripture very vividly. These faces represent Jesus’ mission of social justice on earth, His heartbeat for the world. This scripture gives us a glimpse into what Jesus looks like and who He is. This week I read a scripture that made me rethink how Jesus is represented here on earth:

…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Colossians 3: 10-11 NIV

Christ is all and in all. Wow. Sometimes it is easy to forget this, particularly in this “covid year” where the person next to you is perceived as a potential threat to your health or that of your loved ones. However, the pandemic has simply heightened and emphasized for me my deep-seated lack of connectedness to others. Although I have continued with my philanthropic work during the pandemic, God through this scripture is reminding me that His face is seen in more than hunger, poverty and homelessness which are the causes that are near and dear to my heart.

He is all and is in all. This includes that weed- smoking neighbour whom I have gone out of my way to avoid; that employee who has made it a point to be a thorn in my flesh; that Facebook friend whose social media posts I find slightly irritating; and even my kiddos who sometimes test the limit of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in me- Jesus is represented in all and is in all. So how is God calling me to respond to this? Well the answer is found in the rest of that scripture:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with one another and forgive any complaint you may have against someone else. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3: 12-17 NIV

‘Nuff said.

Yours Truly

Leading People

Leading people is hard whether it’s in the secular world or in ministry- it is a work of heart. If done right, it is one of the highest acts of service and if done right, it can be the one of the most emotionally tasking endeavors. Over the past weeks I have had many opportunities to reflect on the teams I lead as well as what I bring to bear in my leadership journey. Through all the triumphs and conflicts my leadership role bring, I have discovered one of the blueprints for how to be an effective leader.

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm78:82 NIV

For the past two weeks I have been meditating on this scripture and how I can lead with integrity and skill. So lets talk about those:

What does it mean to lead with integrity of heart? Integrity appears 22 times in scripture and a read of those scriptures reveal some characteristics of having integrity: speaking the truth, being upright and righteous. Having integrity of heart as a leader means that when I deal with my reports and those I am in authority over, I do so in fairness and with truth and grace- not being swayed by who they are. I wish them no ill and seek out the best outcomes for them in every situation. This definition reminds me of the lyrics in a song we sing at church:

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly…. in all things… in all ways

The second point from the scripture has to do with leading skillfully. I once read an article that alluded to the fact that no one is born with leadership skills. It is not an innate quality. And I agree… to some extent, I believe that although some people have a propensity and affinity for leadership, effective leaders must cultivate the skill of leadership like a craftsman hones his/her craft. Leading with a skilled hand means that I do not only rely on my past experiences or propensities but I work towards mastery daily. Advancing from novice to expert in any competency involves having the right conditions and opportunities to practice and truly develop that skill.

David developed the skills to lead people effectively through the challenges that came from leading livestock: spending long hours tending to them, leading the sheep to pasture in green and luscious vegetation, dealing with threats and of course, steering the wayward ones back into the fold. Similarly, the challenges of leadership create an environment that can be conducive to honing the skill of leading. Every awkward conversation builds the confidence and competence for the next awkward conversation- as someone recently said to me “the more I know, the more I realize I do not know” (Thanks T.). This paradox is what I describe as growth. The beauty of developing a skill is that it can also be learned through knowledge external to personal experiences- so take a course, read inspirational books, listen to the wisdom of other great leaders, get a mentor- the goal is diligently working towards becoming a skilled leader.

Do you see a man skillful and experienced in his work? He will stand [in honor] before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

Prov 22:29 AMP

I hope you are as encouraged as I am because leading people is not for the faint of heart but for those with integrity of heart and who have skillful hands.

Yours Truly