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.

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.

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.

YOU WILL PAY A PRICE WHEN LEADING IN A CRISIS

“Great leaders are never stress-free,struggle-free, or failure-free.”

UNKNOWN

There is always a cost to leadership. When leading in this time of crisis, leaders must step up more than ever. However, the price of leadership will be much higher. Leading in a crisis is like a car engine, if you ramp up the RPM’s past the red line for too long, you are probably going to blow the engine. For many, ramping up our leadership means working longer hours, engaging in stressful situations along with making tough decisions. I know this can be hard and raise your anxiety, but you are what your people need NOW! 

So how can you lead in this crisis and maintain the sanity needed to be successful? 

Lean on the wise

If you think everything depends on you, then I believe you own too much of the burden. Maybe you ultimately have the full responsibility for the outcome, but that doesn’t mean that you must operate alone. Reach out and seek advice from those you trust and admire. We all have a mentor or two that can give you information and provide ideas and suggestions.  

Vent to those you trust

Leaders in high-stress situations need to talk to people outside their circumstances. As the pressure increases and the anxiety mounts, conversations with a trusted friend, counselor, or coach will help you reduce stress, anxiety, and regain a clear perspective on the situation. The result of doing this, is renewed energy and a drive to attack what’s ahead.

Increase your physical wellness

We think of stress primarily in emotional terms, but it has a significant physical component as well. Rather than getting less sleep because you’re so busy, make it a priority to get more sleep. The same is true for physical exercise—running, swimming, biking, etc. My wife and I purchased a Peloton bike in November. The investment in this bike has been the best thing ever in reducing our anxiety and building up my mental and physical strength. This has resulted in my ability to maintain the energy required to make difficult decisions and address difficult situations. 

Elevate your spiritual well-being

The most significant power for leading in chaotic times comes from above. It is tempting to spend less time reading the bible or praying when there are so many demands for our time. However, these practices are crucial to gain the wisdom, perspective, and peace that we desperately need. Remember the words of Martin Luther:

“I have so much to do that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”

MARTIN LUTHER

I doubt I have said anything you don’t already know that many of you could add more information to clarify my knowledge. Still, as I continue to deal with the current crisis and cope with the extreme change in life and work, I am looking for ways to recharge and re-evaluate my self and improve my leadership. I hope this will help you do the same.

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.