THE PRIORITY OF LOVING AND CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER

As we continue to deal with the current COVID crisis, many people continue to focus on politics and self-right and not prioritize loving and caring for one another.  One of the most significant people dividers is the topic of face-coverings. Regardless of our personal, professional, and political views, face-coverings play a significant role in this crisis. You can read articles on scientific research and political perspectives. Each of us has our thoughts surrounding face coverings. However, one of the biggest things I believe we have sent to the bottom of our priority list is the overall protection and care for people. We have focused on our self-rights, justice, and comfort. We want things to be like it always has been.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interest of others.”

Philippians 2:4

Whether it is family, friends, grocery shoppers, or people we hang out with on the golf course, we all have a spiritual priority of loving and caring for one another.

I recently read an article written by Pastor Terry Enns of Grace Bible Church (Marlene and I attend).

Perhaps the most-recognized attribute of God is His love.  And it is true. God is love (1 Jn. 5:16).  God not only loves, but His very nature is love — His identity is love.  His nature is love and He loves — He acts lovingly (1 Jn. 4:10).  Further, all love emanates from Him (1 Jn. 4:7) — if there is a manifestation of love, it is in some way a reflection of His love.  We have an ability to love because we have been loved by Him first (1 Jn. 4:19).  And while God loves the world (Jn. 3:16), that love does not preclude Him from pouring out His wrath on those who reject and rebel against Him (Jn. 3:36).

This love from God is a great security for the believer.  It is the means by which fear of God’s wrath and judgment is cast out (1 Jn. 4:18).  There is hopefulness and confidence in this love.  We are safe.

But there is an often-overlooked aspect of this love of God.  When we are loved by God, it means that we also will and must love others.  Love for others is the natural overflow of God’s love for us.  That is one of John’s emphases in explaining God’s love — “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11; see also v. 7). 

But this is not just John’s idea.  This is the consistent message of Scripture.

  • The writer to the Hebrews told us to stimulate each other to love (Heb. 10:24-25).
  • James called Jesus’ words the “royal law” and told us to fulfill that command (Js. 2:8).
  • Peter called his readers to love in a variety of contexts (1 Pt. 1:22; 2:17; 4:8; 5:14).
  • John had an entire book about love in the church body (1 John — see 2:5-6; 3:11, 14ff; 4:7-8, 11-13, 19-21).
  • Paul perhaps proclaimed the message of loving one another more persistently than any other biblical writer (Rom. 13:8-10; 14:15; 1 Cor. 13:4ff; 1 Cor. 16:14; 2 Cor. 5:14ff; Gal. 5:13-14; Eph. 4:2, 15ff).
  • And our Savior affirmed that this love for one another is the central means of testifying to the world of the love of God; our evangelistic testimony and influence is bound up in our loving care for one another (Jn. 13:34-35).
  • Whatever happens in the church body, we are committed to loving one another and caring gently, graciously, and abundantly for one another.  Whatever happens in the world and whatever oppression we face in the world and whatever influences we experience from the world, we are committed to love one another above all other things.
  • What does this love look like?
  • I will define love this way — Love is my privileged commitment to give what is good and gracious to you regardless of what it costs because Jesus loves me.
  • Our love for others is our commitment to each other.  We are bound together and we are intentional in our care for each other.
  • We are committed to each other because it is our privilege.  Love is our joy.  We find satisfaction and delight in loving each other (even in confessing and forgiving sin with each other and being content and free from anger and anxiousness when others sin against us).  We are emotionally invested in caring for each other.  We don’t just say, “I love you,” but we love to love each other.
  • In loving each other, there will be sacrifice on our part.  We will give.  We will give not to get, but for the simple joy of giving to another’s need — what is good for the other and gracious for the other person.  Love is not selfishly motivated.  Love is sacrificial and liberal in its gifts.
  • Love further gives regardless of the cost.  That means love is sacrificial and costly.  It will place burdens on us.  But we love to give so much because we have received so much from Christ.  He has given infinite (irreplaceable) treasures to us; how will we withhold finite (replaceable) gifts to others? 
  • So in illness, and in COVID and masks, and with differing political and social opinions, because of Christ, am I willing to love others affectionately and sacrificially in the body of Christ?  Am I willing to sacrifice for others because Christ has sacrificed and given so much to me?  (Or said another way, “whom am I unwilling to love the way Christ has loved me?”) 

So loving one another is our priority.  Whatever else we do, we are committed to caring for one another.  Christ has loved us.  It is our joy to love others.

As I completed read, I started to think about our role as Christians (regardless of political or personal perspective), and began praying for direction and wisdom on how to focus on the love and care of others.

Whether you are a Pastor, high-level politician or someone who simply focus on their own ideas, rights and comfort, I encourage you to pray for direction and wisdom to serve others through how you should love and care for those around you.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

SUCCEED THROUGH PERSISTENCE

“I don’t think I can make it!” 

I used to take my family to a Christian family camp every year. Horn Creek is located in the Sangra DeCristo mountain range just above the city of Westcliffe, CO, and just below Horn Creek mountain. Throughout the years, I would hear stories and recounts of people hiking to various caves, gold and silver mines, and a WWII plane crash. Understanding all of these stories made me want to go and explore. However, the idea of hiking down to the plane crash intrigued me more than anything. I had read the history of the crash and saw the guns and other items in a small museum in town. I was told the aircraft was left as it was except for the crew remains and the weapons. 

“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent”

STEVE MARTIN

I told my wife I was going to go check it out. She encouraged me to go but said it would be difficult due to my physical condition. I convinced her I could do it. I have a neurological disease called Char-Cot-Marie-Tooth. The lack of nerve and muscle stimulation causes atrophy in my hands and feet, creating a loss of strength, balance, and foot drop.

One morning, a couple of friends and I decided to hike down to the wreckage. The journey down was difficult, and I fell a few times, trip all the time, but I made it and enjoyed looking around and checking things out. But then, we had to start back up. 

I never imagined the journey would be so difficult. About a third of the way up, I couldn’t go anymore. I couldn’t feel my legs, my heart rate was way up, and the altitude took away my breath. I told one of my friends,

I don’t think I can make it, call a rescue helicopter to come to get me.” 

I wanted to give up. My body was begging me to stop, and my mind wished to follow suit. But I persisted and I made it to the top—lungs, and heart intact. Everyone clapped and hugged me! What made me continue to go and achieve my goal? Persistence.

During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders have become stretched beyond their knowledge and capabilities. All levels of leadership are experiencing this. As I continue working with leadership in these difficult times, I’ve seen some high-level leaders fail and watched other leaders persist through the challenges. 

So how does one persist through the challenges? Well, I identified six things I did to maintain my persistence to the top of the mountain. In thinking through each one, I realized these could certainly help increase a leader’s persistence in a challenging and stressful time.

Here are the six things that helped me keep going t when everything in me wanted to quit. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to give up, refer back to these, and I believe they can help you.

Ignore everyone

“Energy and persistence conquer all things”

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

At the beginning of the climb, I saw all my friends climbing with ease. Every time I saw someone hiking with ease, I felt terrible about myself. But when I stopped worrying about what others were doing and focused on my persistence to achieve my goal, I began to focus on my mission and how I was going to make it. When leading in difficult times, you need every ounce of energy to persist through the challenges. Focus your efforts on what matters.

You are your biggest supporter

I’m going to make you so proud”

NOTE TO SELF

When I started the hike, I was hanging with everyone. However, within 15 minutes, I was far behind and alone. At first, I was frustrated; my friends abandoned me, but then I realized my burden wasn’t for anyone else to bear. Eventually, one of my friends realized I was not doing well and came to check on me. He encouraged me to persist through this. That motivated me to turn inward and find the strength and determination to keep going. I began to encourage myself with every step. Leading in challenging times means that sometimes you have to hike alone. If you find yourself in that position, find a way to persist through it by encouraging yourself and realizing you had past achievements and will have future success.

Stop and appreciate the little things

The little things matter in life. Appreciate everything you see, hear and experience.

DENIS BAKER

I remember as I was climbing up the mountain, I would have to stop often to catch my breath. When I was standing there, I began to notice how the wreckage spread out alongside the mountain, and the field was a lot larger than I thought. As I continued in my persistence, I kept getting glimpses of the beauty all around. In those moments, I gave no thought to my struggle. In these challenging times, persistence will increase your confidence and leadership ability. Focus on the journey to the finish line. Embrace new experiences and welcome the struggles and challenges.

Focus on the next step

Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Denis Baker

On my climb back up the mountain, I would get discouraged when I would see how far away I was from the top. I realized that if I persisted through the struggles, I would make it to the top! When we face difficult challenges, we can struggle with the thought of eliminating anything the impossible, which opens the door for resistance to creep in. By persisting through difficulties, you can keep build momentum and achieve success. Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Stop looking for a way out

“The easy way out usually leads back in”

PETER SENGE

I wanted a helicopter to get me out of there! I couldn’t go anymore; I didn’t have the strength. I even asked one of the guys to carry my fat body out. When you are suffering, or in pain, it is easy to want to make it go away. But when you persist through the pain and struggles, you will overcome and set yourself up for long-term growth.

Recognize your limitations

“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits”

UNKNOWN

I had to be honest with myself. I was in pain, couldn’t breathe, and didn’t have the same strength in my legs as everyone else. I was pushing my body to the limit. My approach needed to change. After realizing I would not keep up with everyone and that I was going to make it to the top a long time after everyone else got up there. I realized through my persistence; I would make it to the top. Your leadership process might not look like everyone else’s, and that’s OK. We all lead differently. Instead, maintain your persistence, and you will see success.

SUMMARY

As we continue through this crisis, there will continue to be many challenges, difficulties, and a bunch of bumps and bruises along the way. When the journey becomes more uncomfortable than what you are used to, it can be easy to throw in the towel and retreat. But if of persist through the challenges, you can find the strength to keep going, and will discover the reward was worth the effort.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

ENDURING THE HARD TIMES

Thank God for the tough times. They are the reason you are there – to be the leader. If everything were going well, the people wouldn’t need you.”

JOHN MAXWELL

Last week was exhausting. I didn’t say it was terrible, but it was difficult. You know when you have one of those weeks where you get knocked down, get back up, only to be knocked down again? Well, that was me last week.

Being a Health and Safety Professional during the COVID-19 crisis is pushing every button and pulling every last string I have. Every day consist of multiple virtual conversations, meetings, and phone calls. Last week I made decisions that were contradicted; I issued a process that had many grammatical errors. And I gave people advice that was off from our company position. But one thing I can admit, is through my ability to endure and be patient, I was able to overcome my difficult week.

But on a practical level, where did I build the endurance and patience I needed to get through last week? As a leader, I look to grow my leadership capability in many ways, whether reading books, taking on challenges, creating leadership classes, or merely writing my blog. However, I base my leadership foundation on the Word of God. With this knowledge base, I can persevere through difficult challenges and difficult times.

Last week brought me to consider this bible verse. Colossians 1:11: 

11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have high endurance and patience,….

This verse gave me the answer I needed to get through last week: God’s power produces endurance and patience within us. 

What I found is endurance and patience will empower leaders:

WHEN CONFLICT ARISES

WHEN DIFFICULTY ARISES

WHEN CHALLENGES BECOME IMPOSSIBLE

WHEN A CRISIS OR TRAGEDY STRIKES

WHEN THE TEAM LOSES HOPE

A weak or passive leader would fail in everyone one of these situations. During difficult times, people want leaders who can endure the worse conditions and who patiently employ faith and grit.

If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.

JOHN WOODEN

We are in a time where many friends, families, and colleagues are dealing with difficulties beyond measure. As leaders, we need to step up and encouraging them to endure patiently.

Will next week be better? I don’t know, but I am going to continue to patiently endure through what ever happens. By doing this, I will increase my influence and become a more effective leader creating a higher morale with those I lead. YOU CAN DO THE SAME.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.