The second of three major ways that Jesus cared for people is by providing. Provision comes in many ways, none more important than helping someone with spiritual health.
In a doctoral study conducted by Laura Mae Gardner of Wycliffe, she researched why missionaries (in Wycliffe and other agencies) left their field assignment prematurely. Along with the many known challenges missionaries face, such as language, culture, health, interpersonal relationships, etc., the one that seemed most indicative of early departures was one’s inability to maintain a healthy relationship with God. Sustainability is integrally linked to one’s ability to maintain a healthy spiritual diet (Matthew 4:4).
Jesus modeled provision for spiritual nourishment in how He Himself disengaged to spend time with the Father (Mark 1:35), and after the disciples returned from ministry, He drew them away for refreshment (Mark 6:30-32). He taught about provision for spiritual nourishment when answering the scribe concerning the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-38) by prioritizing the cultivation of love with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. With Mary and Martha, He made it clear that spiritual nourishment supersedes physical food (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus obviously provided drink, healing, food, encouragement, and more, but definitely provided for spiritual health.
There is an amazing story about a clothing manufacturer north of Boston named Malden Mills. On December 11, 1995 three of the buildings burned in a fire necessitating the layoff of 3000 employees. The amazing part of the story is that the owner, Aaron Feuerstein, chose to rebuild and continue paying salaries during the reconstruction instead of taking the insurance money and closing down. When asked why, Feuerstein said, “It was the right thing to do.” He was a caring leader and could not but provide for the physical needs of those who he employed. This link tells the story in a six minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry7_FcSiQL8
Godly leaders will ensure that those they serve are cared for both spiritually and physically. When people are healthy spiritually and have their basic needs met for living, then there are a few other ways leaders can extend care.
- Recognition and reward: everyone wants to know when a good job has been done and have some tangible expression to affirm their value.
- Enabling people to become and do their best: everyone, especially the emerging generation, wants to grow into who God designed them to be so they can use their gifts, talents, education, and experience fully in accomplishing worthy outcomes.
- Benefits that do not distract so that people will not be tempted to look elsewhere: research shows (see Pink, Daniel. 2009. Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us) that when people are valued and compensated at an appropriate level, they are free to make their best contribution.
In non-profit organizations the financial provision options may be limited. Sometimes, however, confusion results when senior leaders who have access to organizational budgets exercise spending freedoms that people closer to the ground with access only to what they raise from supporters cannot do. This perception of inequity can potentially appear disingenuous of the caring leader. Navigating this issue is not easy but essential.
Next blog: Jesus Cared by Protecting People