Leadership Lesson from Austin Java

Wednesday afternoon, I chose to spend some time at Austin Java. I ordered the javaccino (their frozen blended coffee) and sat down in the back. I opened up my laptop, grabbed my 1 year Bible and my Moleskine and just asked God to teach me.

Because of the move, I had fallen behind a bit in my daily readings, so I read out of 2 Chronicles. In the tenth chapter, something struck me. It wasn’t a new passage to me – I’ve studied it dozens of times – but God brought one specific verse to my attention.

At the end of Solomon’s reign, Israel was in turmoil. Would Rehoboam relent on the demands Solomon made on the people? They asked him. As a young politician should, rather than responding immediately, he asked for 3 days to seek advice.

The elders spoke: “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.” (2 Chronicles 10:7)

But then his younger leadership, his childhood friends, the OT version of The Entourage (you know, guys with no prior knowledge, but position because of the meteoric rise of their friend) spoke: These people who complain, ‘Your father was too hard on us; lighten up’—well, tell them this: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!'” (2 Chronicles 10:11)

So whose advice did Rehoboam follow? The Entourage! And the result was that he split the kingdom of Israel into Israel in the north and Judah in the south.

But it was the advice of the elders that caught my attention. Here it is again: “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.” (2 Chronicles 10:7)

In ministry, it is way too easy to dismiss the needs of your team for the sake of the mission. It’s way too easy to neglect their care, the care of their families, the care of their spiritual growth, the care of their physical state for the sake of the mission.

I understand the need to cast vision. I understand the need to keep the mission in the front of your team’s mind. But, be very careful to remember the advice of the elders. People will follow the leader that takes care of them. The most certain way to run-off your help is to casually dismiss their needs for the sake of the mission. Take care of your team, and they will fulfill the mission better than you could ask for. Neglect your team, and you will be all alone trying to do the mission by yourself.

By the way, this can go even further to the home. Pastor, you can’t neglect your family and expect them to allow you the freedom to do the work you feel called to. You’d better meet their needs FIRST, or else you might go home late one night after another meeting and find no one there. And that does the Kingdom and the mission absolutely no good at all.

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