We live in a pushy world. Every day, people are bullied and pushed. Bosses, parents, teachers, neighbors and social media push and demand. With each push, the treadmill moves faster. The fear of not keeping pace and being flung off, a failure on the sidelines, is real and palpable. The temptation to join in and push back is very real. In the words of Jesus, “But, it shall not be so among you.” If you are being pushy, you are not leading well. Godly leadership requires the opposite spirit – gentleness.
Gentleness seems to be a lost virtue. Yet, this virtue is a refreshing pool that produces more energy, enthusiasm, loyalty and results from those we lead than any pushing I’ve ever witnessed.
To be clear, gentleness is not:
- Using soppy greeting card words.
- Tip toeing around issues and avoiding difficult conversations.
- Tearfully spilling our guts to all and sundry.
- Those proverbial Kumbaya moments.
- A character trait reserved for women only.
- A fruit of the Spirit (who is powerful and dynamic).
- A grace that pertains to life and godliness.
- A way in which we can participate in the divine nature of God.
- A way to escape corruption and lust.
- An entrance into the everlasting kingdom of God.
- An attribute of love.
(See Galatians 5, 2 Peter 1, 1 Corinthians 13)
These are pretty heavy statements, not to be glossed over. We need to be leaning in to ways we can escape corruption and lust, rather desiring to participate in the nature of Christ. The latest and greatest twitter leader pushing us around in 140 characters or less will not open up an entrance for us to fully understand the everlasting kingdom of God. Gentleness will. Jesus modeled leadership full of virtues, one of which is gentleness. When virtue left him, people were healed. This is powerful stuff.
Gentle people are aware of others, especially those who are more vulnerable than them. As leaders striving to emulate Christ, it is required of us to be aware of those around us and to treat them with utmost respect, being especially kind to those over whom we have power or authority.
Gentleness does not come easy. It is a virtue to be pursued, even while we fail at it. In the busyness of life, we are, at times, likely to be impatient, gloss over another’s hurt, prefer our own way or perhaps lose our temper. This is because we are human. Yet, the humanness of our own being is not an excuse for us to fall into the habit of being pushy. Pray that these failings are only “at times” and not a matter of practice. Pray and ask for forgiveness – from God and from those we have pushed instead of led.
Each of us carries a burden that others can’t see. Treading gently in the lives of others is important. Let’s not add weight to the burdens they carry, causing them to stumble. Rather, with a gentle hand, let’s help lighten their load.
Gentleness opens a door to life and godliness, which is refreshing and freeing. Leading gently releases us, and those we lead, from the terrible turmoil of that pushy treadmill.
Gentleness shows the way. It leads. It does not push.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” – Philippians 4:5