Leadership: A Mother’s Love and a Father’s Care

The similarities between parenting and leadership abound. Paul talked about leading with a mother’s love and a father’s care. Stopping to read and reread his analogy several times, I examined my model of leadership.

Perhaps, I struggle in leadership for the same reasons I struggled with parenting. With five sons born in just over eight years, I tended to “run” our household like a military general. What regrets! By God’s grace they have all become such wonderful men, husbands and fathers. Parenting isn’t for wimps; neither is spiritual leadership. 

More than once someone has commented, “People assume you to be a gentle grandmother, but you’re fierce and tenacious.” Ouch! Is that a compliment or an insult? A commendation or a warning? Should I laugh or cry?

Leadership

Honestly, as I analyze my leadership patterns, gentle, fierce and tenacious form a consistent path, sometimes leading into deep valleys and at other times upward to the highlands. I press myself and those I lead hard, while loving passionately. We only get one crack at life. Time flies quickly past without hope of retrieval.

A Mother’s Love

Paul understood. He established the church in Thessalonica under significant opposition. When persecution forced Paul to flee for his life, he prematurely left a fledgling group of Christ followers. His concern for their survival was valid.

“. . . we cared for you in the same way a nursing mother cares for her own children. With a mother’s love and affectionate attachment to you, we were very happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our lives — because you had become so dear to us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Hippopotamus family

Perhaps no other love compares to the way “a nursing mother cares for her children.” Ponder for a moment, the reality of producing milk to the detriment of her own bone structure; continuing the daily responsibilities despite stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation; walking and rocking a sick or frightened infant for hours on end; rising before dawn and staying up well past sunset with spew in her hair, fatigue dragging her steps; constantly tending to the pressing needs of the one so dependent.

Her love only intensifies through the years: singing “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,” while walking, driving, shopping, or cleaning; freezing her backside on metal bleachers to cheer for her progeny; teaching sons to cook and daughters to change the oil in the car; dropping everything in an instant when her now grown son or daughter calls in distress; interceding in prayer  for God’s grace to impact and direct their lives. How does one define such love?

Do I lead, like Paul, with a mother’s love and a father’s care? If I don’t, I shouldn’t be leading. The source of such “attachment” comes supernaturally from time at the feet of the One who by divine nature is love.

A Father’s Care

Fathers handle children much differently. They toss their littles into the air, bounce them robustly on their knees, play fight on the floor and do many other things that drive mothers a scant bit crazy. Fathers provide a different, but equally intense, care — showing strength, confidence and brevity. Yet, we’ve all watched that two hundred pounds of male hulk melt like butter to the request of “his own children.”

“And you know how affectionately we treated each of you, like a loving father cares for his own children.” We comforted and encouraged you and challenged you to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God, who invites you into his kingdom and glory.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11,12

The leadership shown by a father compliments that of a mother, as he comforts, encourages, challenges and invites. These qualities imply intimacy of relationship and closeness of contact.

Love and care

Paul experienced angst due to separation from his spiritual children — especially knowing they were facing such intense opposition.

A father leads by drawing near, “encouraging, comforting and urging” his children to excel at the most essential thing in life — “to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God.”

The “dad” quality of leadership “cuts to the chase,” “grabs the bull by the horns,” and “calls a spade a spade.” He separates the trite from the significant, without being rude or cruel. Rather, the “dad” leader invites, encourages, and invokes — comforting when needed and urging the young to press on despite setbacks.

Leadership which combines both a mother’s love and father’s care creates a synergetic force, propelling the next generation forward.

Remain Teachable

However, before Paul emphasizes his approach to leadership, he points out a critical piece for all leaders to remember.

“We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you.”
1 Thessalonians 2:6,7

When I was a child, my dad’s edict ruled our home. (We were many too!) Unfortunately, I used that same tone much too often while parenting. Paul gives a better directive.

A mother's love and a father's care

An apostle held the highest authority in the church; his voice carried the unquestionable weight of authority. Yet, he refused to impose or demand from his platform of lofty position. Instead, he insisted his whole team become “like young children” — teachable, gentle, submissive, and responsive servants.

“S-e-r-v-a-n-t” spells leadership most accurately.

I recognize with aging, the less flexible, teachable and submissive I become. To follow Paul’s leadership example, I must remain vigilant at countering natural tendencies to rely on my understanding and depend on seniority or status.

A mother’s love and a father’s care should naturally draw me into a place of low servanthood and tender teachability.

Selfless

Through Paul, I’m reminded of the goal for such an attitude in leadership solely rests on the good of others and the glory of God.

Listen to Paul,

“. . . We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4

Selfless

Or again, 

“We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else. . .”
1 Thessalonians 2:6

And one more,

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”
1 Thessalonians 2:9

With a mother’s love and a father’s care leaders give, give and give again. They open their homes to those who eat their food and mess what’s just been cleaned. These leaders sacrifice their “free” time, to encourage the downcast, pray for the sick, and fill in the missing gaps of ministry. They turn off TVs, cell phones and computers to seek God, fasting and praying for the spiritual condition and pressing needs of others.

Leadership costs! It costs financially, demands relationally and drains both physically and emotionally. No wonder Paul so aptly uses the analogy of a mother’s love and a father’s care.

Rare is the leader that rises to such heights by bowing low to the selfless call of God. Yet, I’ve watched those rare gems shine brightly among us.

Protective family

May God continue to challenge me, you and us all to live selflessly for the good of others and His glory. Yes, let’s receive encouragement from the lives of past and present godly leaders, while consistently looking to God — the One who demonstrated ultimate love and care through Jesus Christ.



Leadership Promotion – Man’s Choice Versus God’s Chosen

Leadership promotion comes either through human intervention or the supernatural aid of God. Biblical and recent history proves how often we get it wrong. For churches, parachurch and non-profit organization, choosing leaders takes prayer, wisdom and discernment.

At times, I have blamed hindrances to personal promotion on human restrictions, rather than seen them as acts of God’s grace. At other times, God boosted my area of influence or ministry capacity when I felt least prepared or qualified.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

When God gives leadership promotion, the results are obvious! God sees with equal clarity the present and future, our inner reality and outer facade, one’s natural limitations and supernatural faith. He advances ministers and ministries in indisputable ways.

Daniel

King Nebuchadnezzar enrolled Daniel, an exiled captive, into a rigid three-year training program. The candidates for this elite opportunity possessed specific qualities.

“… Israelites from the royal family and the nobility
young men without any physical defect, handsome,
showing aptitude for every kind of learning,
well informed, quick to understand
and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.”
Daniel 1:4

Daniel’s commitment to God, the true King, actually added to his resume of qualifications. He was “resolved not to defile himself” by eating and drinking things opposed to his religious standards. (1:8) “God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning”, as well as visions and dreams of all kinds.” (1:17)

The king recognized gifting! God decided on anointing!

Psalm 89:17

God multiplied Daniel’s natural gifts! At the end of the training period, the king personally interviewed each candidate.

“The king talked with them,
and he found non equal to Daniel,
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah…
In every matter of wisdom and understanding
about which the king questioned them,
he found them ten times better than all…”
Daniel 1:18-20

This was Daniel’s first leadership promotion, but not his last. He remained humble, submitted and dedicated to God in spite of severe opposition. God unequivocally propelled Daniel to the forefront.

Paul

Judas suicide decreased “The Twelve” to “The Eleven”. Together they were “constantly in prayer,” (Acts 1:14)

“… Peter stood up among the believers
(a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)
… it is necessary to choose one
of the men who have been with us the whole time
the Lord Jesus was living among us,
beginning from John’s baptism to the time
when Jesus was taken up from us.
For one of these must become a witness
with us of his resurrection.”
Acts 1:15 & 21 

Through prayer, Peter caught God’s plan of replacing Judas. Unfortunately, human reasoning took over!  Surely 120 people, constantly in prayer, couldn’t get it wrong. So they nominated two candidates for leadership promotion: Joseph and Matthias.

Proverbs 19:21

After much prayer, Matthias, whose name means “gift of Yaheweh”, was added to The Eleven. Matthias, though a gift, wasn’t God’s chosen! God’s choice was absent from the list of elect candidates. God’s choice was on a personal rampage, killing and imprisoning new believers. Until God held a face-to-face confrontation along the Damascus Road!

“And last of all (Jesus) appeared to me also,
as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles
and do not even deserve to be called an apostle,
but by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.”
1 Corinthians 15: 8-10

Matthias fell into obscurity! Paul received undeserved leadership promotion in an organization he hated — writing 14 letters included in the Holy Scriptures. Quite the difference between man’s choice and God’s chosen!

Aaron

 “Korah … Dathan and Abiram …
became insolent and rose up against Moses.
With them were 250 Israelite men,
well-known community leaders
who had been appointed members of the council.”
Number 16:1-2

Picture it! Moses and Aaron on one side. Powerful and influential leaders, on the other — 250 delegated spokesmen! Over a million men, women and children witnessed the mutiny. Accusing Moses and Aaron of exerting too much authority, they forcefully expressed their opposition!

These were not rag-tag back-benchers! These men formed the spiritual and civic leadership of the nation. All were members of the ruling council!

Leadership Promotion - Deitrich Bonhoffer

Several times God pressed against the agitators to bring order out of chaos. Nothing was working! Finally, He gave Moses an indisputable plan,

“Speak to the Israelites and
get twelve staffs from them,
one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes.
Write the name of each man on his staff.
On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name,
for there must be one staff for the head
of each ancestral tribe.
Numbers 17: 1-2

Each tribal leader brought his staff — the symbol of his identity, authority, and ministry. A man’s staff was more than a piece of wood! It bore lasting generational significance.

“Place them in the tent of meeting
in front of the ark of the covenant law,
where I meet with you.”
Numbers 17:4

God’s Chosen

Each man surrendered his ministry, calling and gifting — hope for future generations, laid first in Moses’ hands, then in God’s. With the names of each written on his staff, there would be no disputing the results. All that long night, their staffs lay hidden before God. He alone would decide leadership promotion.

Leadership Quote - Frank Damazio

Similarly, we too lay our hopes and expectations, visions and calling, gifts and abilities before God. In surrendering our rights, we allow God to determine the duration of hiddenness, trusting Him to bring forth His divine purpose.

“The next day Moses entered the tent
and saw that Aaron’s staff,
which represented the tribe of Levi,
had not only sprouted but had budded,
blossomed and produced almonds.
Then Moses brought out all the staffs
from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites.
They looked at them,
and each of the leaders took his own staff.”
Numbers 17:9

Can you imagine that moment? Take your staff Simeon — dry, bent and worn. Look at yours Reuben — rubbed smooth. Barren! Check yours Dan — fruitless as before! Each leader “took his own staff.”

The Presence of God brought supernatural fruitfulness to one man’s staff, while leaving the others still dead. Each man needed grace to accept God’s decision, whether chosen or left. God publicly revealed His irrefutable choice for leadership promotion.

Lay it Down

All leaders require grace to lay down and pick up the “staff” of either promotion or limitation. Not once, but continually! Setting everything before God’s Presence! Graciously and humbly “owning” our staff — living or dead.

Those who by ungodly promotion, via self or others, press beyond their God-given parameters become disqualified. God invariably exposes all interior motivations. Even publicly if necessary!

1 Peter 5:6

I relate to the eleven tribal leaders as I lay my “staff” before God. Will He return it without substantial change? I have vision for more! Prophetic words over my life declare more! Yet, the timing is God’s. The position and dimensions of my influence remains His.

I’ve been deceived to believe that the right people with the right gifts, accentuated by the right training program, makes great leaders. I’ve slipped into the faulty, half-right, totally-wrong, reasoning of Peter and others in making leadership decisions.

If only God would mark his “Daniel” ministries clearly, propelling them ten times better than all others. Perhaps if there were more Damascus Road conversions, we would recognize God’s choice. Or maybe if every “Aaron” ministry would stand out with miraculous growth and fruitfulness, discerning leadership promotion would be easy.

Or maybe not!

This I know:
the favor that brings promotion and power
doesn’t come from anywhere on earth,
for no one exalts a person but God, the true judge of all.
He alone determines where favor rests.
He anoints one for greatness
and brings another down to his knees.”
Psalm 75:7-9 TPT

There is one thing for certain, God’s choice is often not man’s! One option remains! Continually place everything before His Presence, trusting Him with leadership promotion.

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Lingering Long – Joshua, The Making of a True Lingerer

A young man named Joshua learned how to linger early in life. But how did this attribute develop? What is the making of a true lingerer — one whose heart is in constant pursuit of God.

Whether it is a good book, pleasant conversation with close friends, or beautiful surroundings, most of us have experienced that same longing to linger, a reluctance to leave. We cling to each moment, not to overstay our welcome, but rather desiring to engage fully in the experience.

Rest in the Lord and wait for His Presence

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as one speaks to a friend.
Then Moses would return to the camp,
but his young aide Joshua son of Nun
did not leave the tent.”
Exodus 33:11

Here is a perfect example! Duty called Moses to “return to the camp”, while Joshua lingered in the Presence of the LORD.

The Beginnings

Of course, this wasn’t the beginning of Joshua’s God experience. He was among those who witnessed the miraculous intervention of God bringing an entire nation out from the midst of Egypt

“with a mighty hand and outstretched arm
Psalm 136:12

The awesome deeds of God continued in the desert, turning bitter water into sweet, providing daily provision, and defeating Israel’s strong military enemies.

After the desert comes rest

This is where we first meet up with young Joshua.

“Moses said to Joshua,
‘Choose some of our men
and go out to fight the Amalekites.
Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hands.’ ”
Exodus 17:9

Later on we would get more details about the Amalekites and their guerrilla tactics. At first they picked off the weak and stragglers of the camp; now they form a serious frontal attack on the nation. An impressive foe to be sure! Joshua takes up strategic position on the field, while Moses assumes a safer spot on the hill!

Together, the battle was won! No one lingers on a battlefield! Get in! Do the job! Get out!

Taking a moment to linger over a sunrise

Next Meeting

Our next meeting with Joshua is quite different. God instructs Moses. The camp is directed to stay away from even the foot of Mount Sinai, or they will die.

“Then the LORD said to Moses,
Come up to the LORD,
you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and seventy of the elders of Israel …
but Moses alone is to approach the LORD …”
Exodus 24:1,2

Count them! Out of approximately 2,000,000 people, 74 are invited to meet with God. And they do — face to face! Most people think it was only Moses who saw and talked with God. Actually, this whole group of prestigious leaders received special invitation.

“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and the seventy elders of Israel went up
and saw the God of Israel
But God did not raise his hand
against these leaders of the Israelites;
they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
Exodus 24:9-11

Linger on the mountain with God

A feast on the mountain! Eating and drinking with God! Who wouldn’t want to be included in this group?  Wouldn’t that change your perspective of God forever? Maybe not! These very leaders would, within days, be involved in mass rebellion, forming a golden calf to worship, then declaring with their own mouths

“These are your gods, Israel,
who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Exodus 32:4

They witnessed God’s miraculous intervention, saw Him in His glory, and tasted of His goodness. Refusing to linger, they left the mountain, and God, quickly following after the delusions of men.

Except for one!

The Uninvited

Have you ever attended an important function uninvited? Honestly, I have been too embarrassed to try. Without an invitation from the host, I have graciously declined several occasions.

What if the host is God — the LORD of all? This invitation was specific, “Moses alone is to approach the LORD”.

“Then Moses set out with Joshua, his aide,
and Moses went up on the mountain of God.
He said to the elders,
Wait here for us until we come back to you…”
Exodus 24:13,14

The leaders were instructed to wait, to linger; they didn’t. Moses was instructed to proceed alone; he didn’t.

Alone but never alone!

Was Moses falling to the old temptation of fear, like he had at the burning bush? Then afraid to approach Israel on his own, he had Aaron join him. Was he again afraid to go alone? There is no preempt to Joshua’s presence.

Uninvited!
Not included in the list of dignitaries!
Not chosen!
A silent, unnoticed witness!
A humble and faithful servant!

Joshua’s humility and servant heart to his master not only gained him access to see the LORD, eat and drink in His Presence, but then to go higher … higher up the mountain.

Lingering Begins

One taste of the Presence of God was not enough. Joshua was never content to boast of his mountain experience, or lounge in yesterday’s glory. What began on the mountain marked Joshua’s life from this point forward.

Waiting and resting!

Every opportunity Joshua had in the Presence of God became one of lingering.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as one speaks to a friend.
Then Moses would return to the camp,
but his young aide Joshua son of Nun
did not leave the tent.”
Exodus 33:11

Right here my heart grieves! What draws each of us so easily and quickly away? What duty is so pressing? Why are other pleasures so enthralling? Not just for the young, but also for the mature!

Linger to Lead

It is no surprise that when God summoned Moses to step down from leadership, Joshua was ready as successor.

“The LORD said to Moses,
“Now the day of your death is near.
Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting,
where I will commission him.”
So Moses and Joshua came
and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.”
Deuteronomy 31:14

The tent of meeting! The place where Joshua lingered long, refusing to leave God’s Presence, became the very ground of His commissioning into greater service.

How many commissioning moments have been missed because those God would have chosen have failed to linger? How few commissioned are so captivated by the Presence of God they seek nothing else?

It is in His Presence that every promotion, elevation and advancement begins. Here we are transformed, equipped and ordained. Here our hearts remain subtle and wills flexible to the moving of The Spirit and the promptings of God.

Oh that we would all become lingerers, learning from Joshua’s example. That we would inhabit the Presence of God, coming more often and staying longer. What an example to emulate!

Welcome the Presence of God

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Further Reading:

A Hero – “If You Need Someone Strong, I’m The One!”

Leadership 101 – Take it from the Eagles