It's important to train up others who can move into the "point position" when leaders need to step aside for a time. How many leaders have stayed too long at the point, burning themselves out, because there was no one prepared to keep the flock moving on track?
Basic Truth No. 3: We need to be prepared to "take turns" in leadership, allowing some to rest and restore while others step up to the challenge.
HONKING ENCOURAGEMENT Canadian geese honk. The honking has a purpose: to encourage the ones up front to keep up the speed. But do you know it's the birds in the back that do all that honking?
Do we have as much sense as a goose? I think it's tragic that the people Moses gave his life for were the cause of his failure to go into Canaan. They never learned how to honk and say to him: "Keep going, keep going. Do it God's way. We trust you, leader. Whatever you say, we're behind you all the way. Keep this caravan moving."
Today we call meetings and vote and discourage our leadership. We need to honk instead. Most of us have no idea what it would mean to a leader who is starting to slow down a bit, for us to go up and say, "Oh, you blessed me today. You did the right thing. You were so sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Thank you for that word."
One group of leaders who could use some honking is pastors' wives. They may not be on the platform, leading in an overt way. But they have a tough, often thankless job.
Many times when I've visited a church I have gone up to the pastor's wife after the service and said, "You're such a blessing." Typically she is shocked and asks, "Me? In what way did I bless you?"
And I explain: "Just watching you listen as your husband spoke and seeing you laugh at his jokes, the ones I know you've heard 8,000 times--that blesses me. When he says, 'Let's turn to page such-and-such' or 'Let's go to this passage,' you open your Bible once again and you go with him. There's something about you that is so supportive. That blesses me."
Basic Truth No. 4: We need to honk encouragement to those God has placed in leadership ahead of us.
WATCHING OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER It's a fact that when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot and falls out of formation, two geese leave with him and follow him all the way to the ground. Then they stay with him to protect him until he either gets well or dies.
Do we have as much sense as a goose? Why is the church known as a place where we shoot our wounded? We have to learn to take care of one another!
Some time ago, I went through a very difficult situation in my life. People didn't understand--and when people don't understand, they try to identify the problem. They try to find a box to put it in. Many false things were said or surmised about me. This was hurtful, but I tried hard to rise above the hurt and keep going.
During this time I was invited to speak at a church in Texas. By God's grace I was able to minister above and beyond my hurts. But the pastor was very sensitive.
Recognizing something, he came to me and said: "Iverna, you don't know me well. But if you ever need to talk heart-to-heart, or if you ever feel discouraged and think you want to quit, just give me a phone call. I'll pay your way to come here, and the two of us will sit down."
Then he added, "I probably wouldn't have any counsel for you, but we'll just sit together." I cannot tell you the healing balm that flowed over me at that moment.
You see, we don't need to use a lot of words. In fact, when someone's hurting very deeply, he really doesn't want to listen to a lot of words. If he's been in the church for a while, he knows the Scripture as well as the rest of us.
If we go to him and say, "You know, the Bible says God will give you beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and a garment of praise for that spirit of heaviness," everything within him will want to scream, "Drop dead!" Honestly, haven't most of us been there?
Another thing he doesn't need is more buckshot. You know how we add to the buckshot? When we get riled up and say: "Who shot you? Hey, I know them, those creeps." We're not helping--we're only shooting another bullet in.
What hurting people need most is someone to simply sit with them--to fly down to where they are and be there for them, to watch out for them, to believe for them and maybe to flap his wings a little bit in praise.
Basic Truth No. 5: We need to take care of one another and be sensitive to one another's hurts.
Do we have the sense of a goose? May we have that much sense and more! Metaphors are good as far as they go, but the truth is the church is much more than a flock of geese. We are a family, a body, each a part of the other. Let's stick together, encourage one another, and help and support one another. Let's get in formation, flap our wings together--and see how far we can fly!
Iverna Tompkins has preached and taught the Word of God with powerful prophetic insight for more than 30 years. One of the hallmarks of her ministry is a commitment to leadership training, equipping others to fulfill their destiny in God.
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