Yesterday on my way home from the office I stopped off at Ted’s house (Ted is our worship leader) to sit on his patio and talk for a bit. Not only do these talks feed my soul but they tend to be a welcomed and unpredictable mix of topical discussion ranging from deep theological pondering to fart jokes. In the midst of our hour together yesterday we got on the topic of suffering in a sense. We talked about times when we got it wrong in life or ministry and what we learned and how we were shaped as a result. We talked a lot about how often leaders suffer and how rarely we as leaders recognize that suffering as an opportunity to grow in our leadership. Truth be told, I hate to suffer, I much prefer winning. I guess I have that in common with Charlie Sheen.
Anyway, Reflecting on that discussion reminded me that Ted and I have never discussed our deepest discoveries about God or his mission after great victories. maybe we should, but after great victories we usually just celebrate. It got me thinking about how important suffering is not only in the life of Christ Followers, but it got me thinking about suffering’s unique and important role in the formation of my leadership. In the midst of all that I have also been studying the New Testament book of Hebrews for our current talk series. It was just a moment ago I came across Hebrews 2:10. It’s a long verse with deep theological significance about the supremacy and glory of Christ which ends by saying something striking,
Through the suffering of Jesus, God made him a perfect leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation.
Without getting too preachy on what is designed to be a blog about leadership, I am just amazed that what resulted in Jesus through his suffering was PERFECT LEADERSHIP. Now I know the covering of sin, the new covenant and a way to intimacy with God was accomplished for ME by Christ’s sufferings, but what was happening inside Jesus was perfect leadership. wow.
So a few things I am reminded about during suffering as a leader that I think translate…
Suffering refocuses singular purpose
When the heat goes up and things get difficult we all by nature get back to the one thing we know we have to do. Even our bodies know this and when we get in tense situations and our bodies convert to what is known as Fight or Flight, blood naturally moves to the places it is most needed to run or fight. The same is true for leaders and purpose. Suffering has a way of forcing us back to our own “one thing”.
Suffering deepens community
Just like Jesus, when things get rough not only do we find out who are real friends are, we also gain greater intimacy with those we are closest to in life. Simple as that.
Suffering makes perfect leader(s)
It would be foolishly presumptuous and pretty bad theology to say “leaders” in that above statement, because Jesus really is the only perfect leader, but I will say, every time I encounter suffering in my own life as a leader I am given the beautiful opportunity to become a better leader. That’s not to say I always take God up on that opportunity and make the most of it, but it’s there for the taking.
Stu is the Lead Pastor of Disciples Church in Folsom. To read more from Stu’s Leading Thoughts click here: http://www.discipleschurch.net/info/leading-thoughts/