The Saturday night before Waypoint launched, I found one of my boys in tears on the front steps. When I asked him what was wrong he replied, “What if nobody likes your sermon?” In that moment, this five year-old expressed my deepest fear of the day. And God forced me to sit down on the step with him and comfort my child. In a strange way, it was extremely cathartic for me as my fears were spoken, examined, explored, and then prayed over with him.
From that moment, I created a game I called the “What If” parade. When I find myself anxious, I sit down and let the What If parade pass before me. I jot down what is the worst thing that could happen, and then the next, and the next, as I follow it down a trail of worst-case scenarios. Usually at the end, however, I pray and have come to the same conclusion motivational speaker Spencer Johnson came to in his inspiring meme.
This makes a great meme most of the time…until that moment it is not.
Because inevitably there will be THAT moment that was far worse than you can ever dare to imagine.
Your wife walks in and says, “I am leaving you.” The doctor calls you and says, “It’s stage IV.” Your child calls you from a jail cell. When you have to purchase a gravestone for your child. Quite honestly, I cannot list examples because it is far worse than I could ever dare to imagine.
There will be a moment when you are crushed beyond what you could ever prepare for. Because, what if God gives you more than you can handle? What would happen to you?
Unfortunately, another popular meme is that “God will never give you more than you can handle.” This is not a biblical promise. The biblical promise is that no matter what, He will never leave you nor forsake you. It may appear as darkness has enveloped you, but in that darkness God resides.
When Mother Teresa died her personal journal was published. People were astonished to discover she battled with decades of a “dark night of the soul” where she felt terrible a pain of loss. For decades she the darkness remained, but her longing of faith lasted. In fact, as the darkness consumed her, her longing for Jesus seemed to grow stronger. In her journal, Mother Teresa wrote, “I talk of you [Jesus] for hours–of my longing for You.” And as she sat in this darkness for years, she eventually wrote, “For the first time in 11 years–I have come to love the darkness.” It is due to this longing within the darkness that Mother Teresa was able to daily identify with the those she was called to serve.
In 2 Chronicles we are told about a man who faced the darkness of the unknown. When Jehoshaphat faced the inevitable attack of three vast armies, he prays, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Though your world will come crashing in, though all you have worked towards will topple, though the wars will rage within you–none of which you can handle–the Lord is with you. You may not know what to do, but turn your gaze upon the Lord who promises to be with you in the tempest.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth is transformed
and the mountains are toppled
into the depths of the seas,
though their waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake in the surge…
“Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted over the earth.”
The LORD of Hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”–Mary Tyler Moore
“Someday is not a day of the week.” –Janet Dailey
“More men have become great through practice than by nature.” –Democritus
Daily Leaders Leading Leaders
Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term “servant leadership” in the modern corporate setting when he wrote these famous words in his legendary essayThe Servant as Leader, published in 1970. He said:
The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.
Back to the Quote (and Why It’s So Important)
Looking at the quote again, notice that Greenleaf said, “It begins with the natural feeling that … ” In other words, it comes from within–from deep inside you, which is ingrained in your whole being. As a leader adapts a mindset to “serve first,” “conscious choice” kicks in. It’s intentional and actionable to “aspire to lead” in this manner.
This leadership approach is designed for both head and heart to be in the game. And this is partly the reason why so many never attempt it, or try and fail miserably at servant leadership. It’s leadership by character, and not every person is equipped to meet the high expectations that servant leadership demands.
Think about it: “The servant-leader is servant first.”
When you serve first, it’s for the other person’s benefit. It requires the best leaders to focus their attention away from themselves and put the spotlight on their employees — growing and empowering them first. Greenleaf noticed that these leaders got the best out of their employees; they were more motivated, creative, and productive and that led to great business results.
The Doormat Perception
There’s so much tension in the paradox of the term “servant leadership.” The words servant and leader are usually thought of as being opposites. And the term is tremendously counterintuitive in today’s command-and-control leadership structures, which wrongly perceive servant leaders as doormats.
But in reality, servant leaders lead with authority, but they do so by supporting the employees from the bottom up. They demand excellence and hold employees accountable for success and high performance. They can be tough…