A Note from Chris Adams: Leading in ministry does not always mean “easy” or “selfless.” Leading means loving as Jesus does and looking out for others first. That is NOT easy to do. As leaders, we will be faced with this issue over and over. How will you respond when relationships get really difficult? Today’s article is written by Leighann McCoy, Next Gen and Prayer Minister at Thompson Station Church in Thompson Station, TN. She shares her experience of seeking to love well.
I’m reading a challenging book right now, A Different Kind of Happiness written by Larry Crabb. In his book, Dr. Crabb challenges us to consider our true calling as a follower of Christ. He suggests that we are here to relate to God in a loving relationship and out of that loving relationship to relate to others with the genuine expression of the love of God. In fact, the subtitle of A Different Kind of Happiness is this, “Discovering the JOY that Comes from Sacrificial LOVE.”
That’s the kicker for me—that word sacrificial.
A few months ago one of my best friends abruptly ended our friendship. When I say “best friend” I mean the kind of friend who fed me ice chips after surgery, shared a 3 year prayer partnership with me, and took my daughter to the hospital when she was having a miscarriage, and I was sick with chemo. She was seriously one of my very few “best friends.” She sent me a 2,487 word Facebook message written at 1:22 a.m. recounting the many ways I was never a friend to her at all. I was crushed. And for 3 months I’ve tried to ignore, justify, and even baptize the bundle of offenses her Facebook message left me with.
This friend gave me a golden opportunity to “discover the JOY that comes from sacrificial LOVE.” But it’s hard to look at it that way. Why? Because I love myself more than I love others. And I hate to admit that, but it’s true.
Dr. Crabb’s book made me face that fact. My natural bent is to crank out the work and focus on the end result. Sometimes people just get in the way and slow down my progress. For instance, this morning I spent two hours in a meeting. When the meeting ended, we came to the exact conclusion I knew we would come to before we ever had that meeting. So, what was the point of the meeting? The point was to work together! That meeting was important because God wanted us to celebrate the love of Christ in community with one another and lead with unity, selflessness, and maybe a bit of iron that sharpens iron.
I need to shift my focus. I want to be a leader in ministry who loves people well while getting the job done, not one who gets the job done and hopes not to offend anyone along the way.
Those two hours in my meeting this morning were necessary and they gave me a golden opportunity to “discover the JOY that comes from sacrificial LOVE.”
I’m changing my game. From this point forward, I’m going to first and foremost love God and then invite Him to express His sacrificial love to others through me. I hope there’s JOY for me somewhere in there. I’ll let you know. But until I discover that JOY, I want to be pleasing to my Savior. What will that look like with my ex-best friend? Perhaps I will…
- Focus on her hurt in those 2,487 words rather than mine
- Express grace toward her as I’m given opportunity
- Refuse to carry that load of offense any longer
What will that look like in leadership? Perhaps my “win” is…
- No longer defined by the end result, but rather by how well my team is loved by me while we are working together
- Seeking ways to express Christ’s unconditional love to those who work with me
- Seeking ways to express Christ’s extravagant grace to those who aggravate me
- Discovering how to create a safe place where the best in others is free to be expressed
- Letting go of the need to be heard, respected, and valued in my workplace and focusing instead on hearing, respecting, and valuing others
What about you? Do you want to “discover the JOY that comes from sacrificial LOVE?” What would that look like in your life?
Check out Dr. Crabb’s book, A Different Kind of Happiness if you want to be challenged to love God more than you love yourself.
Leighann McCoy serves on staff as the Next Gen and Prayer Minister at Thompson Station Church in Thompson Station, TN. Her most recent book, Spiritual Warfare for Your Family was released in May. You can connect with Leighann at www.leighannmccoy.com