Monthly Archives: January 2016

Jesus Cared by Knowing People

The first of three major ways that Jesus cared for people was by knowing them. We accept the fact that God knows all people thoroughly (Matthew 6:25-32) and that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of men (Luke 9:47).  Apart from divine insight, we see in the Gospels that Jesus invested time to get to know people personally.  Surely while walking many miles around Israel He conversed with the Disciples.  He asked them many questions not because He lacked the knowledge, but to enable the men to bring forth what they were thinking like the wise man in Proverbs (20:5).  Jesus knew the state of His followers (Proverbs 27:23).

It was attributed to Theodore Roosevelt that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In our efficiency oriented western culture, taking time to know a person involves a commitment.  The degree of knowing a person is in direct proportion to time spent with a person.  We can only superficially know a person at a distance or through periodic encounters.  Shared experiences, especially in challenging situations, allow for people to become more deeply acquainted.  There is no substitute for spending time with those you primarily lead in their home and work context with the intent to know more fully.

What we learn from the Good Shepherd and observe from good shepherd leadership instructs us on this topic of knowing.  In order for the shepherd of sheep to provide what is needed, knowledge is essential.  The shepherd is the one initiating to meet needs.  Although sheep cannot talk, the good shepherd can observe the signs of need, whether for food, drink, or deep restoration.  Not unlike a baby with a mother, needs must be discerned.  Some signs are more easily recognized while other signs require closer observation to an individual’s unique need.

In his excellent book, While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks, Timothy Laniak shares what he learned from living six months with shepherds in the Middle East.  He explains how good shepherds know their sheep by name and make effort to inspect them regularly.  Shepherds keep their hands on the sheep so they can feel how they are doing.  When sheep enter the sheep pen one after another the shepherd gets a close look at each and can notice what could go undetected in the pasture.

Similarly, when investing unhurried time with those we lead, the leader can hear from speech and observe from actions the kind of insight needed for nurturing health. How do those being served utilize the Bible for nourishing self and others?  What interpersonal skills are present or are lacking?  Where could people focus learning and development for greater enjoyment and effectiveness in ministry?  What areas for prayer does this person need?  Few people indeed have leaders who know them this well and love them enough to serve their real needs and wants.

A sad reality is that a leader can think he knows a person well and shockingly find out that there is some dysfunction or hiddenness. Hopefully if a safe and grace filled relationship is present to ask uncomfortable questions with loving accountability, self-disclosure will result and enable understanding and corrective behavior.  The enemy is devouring too many good people and good leaders.  Care by knowing deeply is essential.

Next blog: Jesus Cared by Providing for People

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Jesus, the leader who cared

We now come to the third of the three components of our CORE Model for living and leading like Jesus. Although the care component is addressed third, it is of no less importance than the lead and develop components.  From the life of Jesus we find Him leading, developing, and now caring for those He led.

If we had to choose just one passage in the Bible that succinctly tells God’s very personal care for people, one would be hard pressed not to select the Twenty-Third Psalm. In this treasure from the heart of David, we find eloquently stated what it means to have God as our Shepherd.  But now we turn to how Jesus cared as a living example of Psalm 23.

When we think about Jesus as a leader who cared, several pictures from stories in the Gospels should come to mind. Which pictures come to your mind? Jesus valuing the little children? Jesus calming the Disciples in the boat during the storm? Jesus committing His mother to John while on the cross?  How He related to people, His soothing words, His gentle touch, His loving glance, all teach us of the Savor’s care for those He encountered and led.

Jesus’ care and concern is equally seen in His cleansing the temple so that sincere worshippers were not abused. His harsh words toward religious leaders who were misleading people were an act of care.  And yes, His passion to take upon Himself the sin of the world was the ultimate sign of caring.  Jesus is clearly a leader who cared far more than any earthly leader.  His example is most worthy of our emulation.

In many cultures the caring function is viewed as a leadership weakness. It is something that mothers do with children, but fathers are expected to be the real leaders who teach the toughness of “manhood.”  Leaders perceive that acts of care could mar their image of being able to act with authority.  Whether the picture of a “stiff upper lip” or dispensing decisive orders or never allowing emotions to surface is culturally normative, none of these or other characteristics are consistent with the Bible or Jesus.  He was approachable by all; He rarely had to give orders; and He cried.  Here we find our model for caring.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 1-12), Jesus turned on end conventional wisdom about leadership. His teaching identified what was considered worthy of blessing from God for the masses and leaders alike: being poor in spirit, mourning, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, being merciful, being pure in heart, peacemaking, and being persecuted.  To live and lead like Jesus we must understand and apply these caring functions personally and with those we serve.

What questions come to your mind when you consider care giving as a leader? If they are not addressed in the next three blogs under the categories of knowing, providing, and protecting, please consider this blog a place to explore the answers to your questions.

Next blog: Jesus Cared by Knowing People

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