Have you ever heard the expression, “They are as different as chalk and cheese?” No doubt you have. It’s a common way to describe stark contrasts between two people, two options, or two choices. Doing some research, I discovered no one truly knows how this phrase, “chalk and cheese” first started. However, historians are convinced that it always described two incomparable entities.
When I read the historical books of the Old Testament, I am struck by the fact that the first two kings that God put in place over Israel were as different as chalk and cheese. Although there were many differences between the Saul (Israel’s first king) and David (Israel’s second king), the biggest contrast between the two was their approach with the people they were leading.
In 1 Samuel 13 we read that Saul’s impatience with the prophet Samuel leads him to act foolishly and commit a transgression against God’s command to wait. Likewise, we see that throughout Saul’s life he becomes increasingly jealous, malicious, vindictive, and utterly consumed with being elevated to the place of honour. In 1 Samuel 18:28-29 we read that, “When Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David and that Michal, his daughter, loved him, Saul was yet the more afraid of David, and Saul became the enemy of David continually.”
What drives a man to become so insecure and fearful that he becomes the enemy of his own son-in-law? I will tell you: the incessant need to have his authority and respect exalted. Saul thought that the key to being an effective leader was flexing his muscles of authority and demanding those in his care to respect him. And really, who could blame the guy; all the other powerful kings and head of states were doing it!
However, David was different. Although King Saul put a bounty on the shepherd’s head, young David knew that true successful leadership starts with loving the people. Twice David had the opportunity to kill King Saul and demonstrate to the band of men that followed him how strong and mighty he truly was; they would respect him because of his authority. Yet it seems like David’s approach of honesty, brotherly love, and true compassion paved the way for leadership success. Even in later years, we see that David’s method of love continued to be his style of leadership. In 2 Samuel 23:15 and following it reads:
David said longingly, ‘O that someone would give me a drink of water from the well in Bethlehem by the gate!’ 16 The three warriors breached the Philistine camp and drew up water from the well in Bethlehem by the gate, and they brought it to David. However, he was not willing to drink it, so he poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord. 17 He said, ‘Far be it from me, O Lord, to drink this, the blood of the men who risked their lives.’ So he was not willing to drink it. These things the three warriors did.
This story from Scripture begs the question, What makes men risk their lives for water? The answer, their respect. How did David earn the respect of the people? By loving them.
How did David earn the respect of the people? By loving them.
As I was preparing to be voted on as the senior pastor of Calvary, I felt confident in my calling but very hesitant in my inexperience. You see, I am only young, 25yrs at the vote, only 26 yrs old today. I am probably one of the youngest senior pastors currently in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland & Labrador. And the question that continued to pass through my mind before and after the pastoral vote was this: How do I get the experienced and influential members to follow me at such a young age? Fair question right? I have concluded that the answer is this: One must flex his or her muscles of LOVE, not authority.
One must flex his or her muscles of LOVE, not authority.
1 Thessalonians has become a very special book to me since I have become a senior pastor. I will admit that I had only known 1 Thessalonians as the book which contained the best description of the Rapture of the Church. However, once I started digging into this letter by the Apostle Paul it became so evident that this was an affectionate letter from a pastor’s heart. He speaks of how he thanks God for them & their faith. He speaks of his gentle and compassionate care for them when he started the Church in Thessalonica. And at the end of chapter 2 Paul says that the greatest reward he could ever receive is to see the believers of the Thessalonian Church in heaven; even proclaiming to them, “You are our glory and joy.” (2:20) What makes a pastor say something like that? The answer, his love for the people.
I have been known for saying that ministry would be easy were it not for the people. People are complicated, people make mistakes, people are not perfect, people’s lives can become messy, people can be wrong. (And don’t forget that pastors are people too). But my advice for you, no matter your age or breadth of experience, is this: You are an effective leader when you truly care about people. Your brotherly love for your congregation will gain you more currency and respect than flexing your authoritarian muscles. Your deposits of compassion and care for your people will allow you to be the leader you need to be, and the authority figure then the need arises.
You are an effective leader when you truly care about people.
As I finish, let me leave you with this thought from Scripture:
I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries wherever I have driven them and bring them again to their folds, and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will also set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor will they be missing, say the LORD. Jeremiah 23:3-4
The shepherds God is looking for His Church will be men AND WOMEN who love and care about the congregation. Who will lend a helping hand, pray with them, cry with them, rejoice with them, who will feed them from God’s Word, and will take the congregation from where they are to where God is expecting them by the avenue of brotherly love.