We can all find ourselves in uncomfortable places.
We can feel the sting of comparison while sitting at lunch with friends, in a meeting at our job, or even at a family gathering over a Holiday weekend. The notion of not measuring up to the other people in the room because of their capabilities and achievements can be triggering. In these instances, we can downplay our own abilities and wonder what we actually have to offer. God has stepped in and reminded me, more than once, of the strengths I possess and I bet he has done that for you too.
He graciously shows me how my weaknesses are not there to make me feel “less than.” And how they are actually opportunities for me to become more dependent on my Heavenly Father, and interdependent on the strengths of other people He is intentionally placing around me. This requires humility that I haven’t always had to give.
See, God puts us in relationships with people who have zones of genius different from our own. God expects us to value, encourage, use, and promote their gifts, instead of being intimidated by them and competing against them.
It’s so much better to link arms with people, going further together than to achieve limited success on our own. Or much worse, to drown in comparison, competition, and jealousy.
We are better together.
But these things aren’t built in us overnight. There’s a process we all must walk through to fully embrace God’s ways over our own.
Humanity wants to see, and then believe. We like tangible proof of anything we’re going to put stock in. Staying the course on a long road of faith, where there is little to no noticeable progress, feels exhausting and hardly worth our time. And yet, it’s the accumulative experiences of life that truly shape us as the people and leaders we become.
Even Jesus knew the sick man they brought before him needed his sins forgiven more than he needed the physical healing of his legs to walk again.
“They tried to push through the crowd to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him. So they went up to the roof, took off some tiles, and lowered the sick man down into the crowd, still on his mat, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” - Luke 5:18-20
The sins of this man’s heart were a greater barrier to his future than his physical paralysis. In one simple, yet dramatic moment, Jesus gave this man a new identity by calling him “son” and forgiving his sins, changing everything about this man’s inner world and the trajectory of his future.
Yet, there was no celebration by the leaders surrounding Jesus. There were only questions and criticism. The Pharisees and teachers of the religious law asked why & how did Jesus think he had the authority to forgive people’s sins?
Becoming a leader and developing leaders is not easy, nor is it a one-time encounter. It’s a process. You will make decisions some won’t understand. The hours spent pouring into people may not be recognized or could be seen as a waste of time. And yet, people learn by example.
“Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed.’ And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, “We have seen amazing things today.” - Luke 5:24-25
Indeed, the instant miracles we see with our eyes build faith. They are truly worth so much celebration and praise to the God from whom all miracles come. But…the biggest miracle of all, the forgiveness of sins, which was the beginning of this man’s complete transformation to walk in freedom, was minimized.
When you receive or give others the opportunity to lead, there may be no cheers coming from the crowd. When you decide to love people more than yourself and promote them instead of yourself, it may not make sense. The most profound things often go unnoticed, or worse, criticism comes from those who do not understand what you are trying to achieve.
Jesus called out the greatness in His disciples and many other people he encountered before they were great, and so must we. Giving people an opportunity to rise to the occasion is a seed planted in the darkness that can change a life. Loving people well, giving them a safe place to grow, make mistakes, and learn, and pouring your best into them along the journey will bring unity, blessing, and multiplication.
People are not an interruption to our work, they are our work. Our desire should be for those we influence to learn from us and go even further and faster than us! Loving God and loving people is putting the Kingdom of God first. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
John Maxwell says, “Leaders make things better for people. Growing leaders grow leaders. It’s just the nature of the role.” In John’s many books on leadership, he talks about how leaders who grow naturally lift the lid of their own potential and experiences, which creates space for those within their sphere of influence to expand and grow too. I experienced this firsthand as I was onboarding with a company. The human resource director told me, “Work yourself out of a job.” This is the best advice I’ve ever received as a new hire.
True leaders discover the protection and covering that comes from laying down pride, insecurities, jealousies, selfish ambition, and misplaced identities at the feet of Jesus. God longs to heal our bodies and our hearts just like He did for the paralyzed man that was let down through the roof right at Jesus’ feet. We may not see ourselves as paralyzed until we acknowledge our weaknesses and blind spots. Be willing to Invite God and trusted people into the vulnerable places of your life so your wounds can become clean, stitched up properly, and healed up stronger and more resilient than they were previously.
All of these things feel risky and the opposite of what the “world” tells us to do. However, God has got your back! “For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.” 1 John 5:4
Never stop reaching for people and calling them higher, inviting them to join the mission, and taking them along with you on the journey of faith.
We are all better together.