July 11 – Leadership – Conflict

Read Matthew 18:15-17

If you’ve worked with people for any amount of time, then you know that humans are messy and imperfect. Including you and me. Working with others is hard.

Leading others is even harder. 

Unfortunately, there will be times in our leadership when we have to confront conflict. Whether you love it or you love to run from it, as believers, we have a responsibility to lead through it. 

This doesn’t mean bulldozing over feelings for the sake of moving forward, demanding a desired response to push our own agenda or making a fast and hard decision to avoid the opinions of others. 

Leading through conflict requires us to see the problem, confront those involved in truth and grace, and to seek out a solution together

Let’s be honest though, this is all easier said than done. But we’re in luck. Jesus had something to say about conflict among believers and not just how to resolve it, but what it takes to lead through it. 

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”

Matthew 18:15-17 MSG

As you read this truth, think about your circles of people… 

Have you been hurt or have you hurt someone? Is there a conflict that you’ve been putting off, hoping it would just go away? Do you tend to be oblivious to the conflict moments for people around you? Are you willing to walk through these steps of resolution to reconcile the relationship? Is there someone who is a non-believer that needs to experience God’s forgiving love through your example? 

Today, even if it might not be obvious to you, ask Jesus to reveal who those individuals might be and ask Him for the strength, patience, and grace to lead through the conflict.

Becca Harbaugh

July 10 – Leadership – Service

Read Mark 10:35-45

Since making the decision to go into full time ministry and getting the opportunity to do so at Grace Church in Wooster, I have been in a season of observing and learning. Coming into an internship in the summer of 2015, I knew little of what it took to actually be a pastor. Sure, I knew in a general sense from my dad being a pastor the majority of my life but, then stepping into the mix, I needed some guidance.

There were two people who really helped me learn the ropes and that was Randy Moomaw and Steve Kern. From taking me on hospital visits, to funerals and coaching me through tough situations, Steve and Randy have been incredible for my professional growth.

However, one thing stands out from all of the rest and has become a core motto in my own leadership:

Don’t ask someone to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself!

Leadership is not telling someone to go clean out a closet, organize a bunch of files or do other tasks that you have neglected up until this point. Leadership is leading the way and showing people that nothing is beneath you.

In our reading today, Jesus had to have a tough conversation with His disciples after a couple of them got caught up in being the greatest of the bunch. Jesus turned their thinking upside down by saying:

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all.”

A huge part of leadership is actually serving and leading people through your actions. There is no better example of this than Jesus. Did He enter into Jerusalem on a white horse with sword drawn and ready for war?

No.

He came into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

Did He demand that His disciples care for His every need?

No.

He washed their feet.

In your circle of influence, how can you best lead through your actions? How can you take the next step of serving? Do you communicate, audibly or not, that something is beneath you as a leader? Do you cast vision so that people know the “why” behind their responsibilities or do you pass off tasks that you have neglected?

You would be surprised how much of an impact you would make through your leadership if you were committed to serve!

Jake Lawson

July 9 – Leadership – Humility

Read Philippians 2:1-11

Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time studying and learning from great leaders. Thankfully, I have not had to look hard or far to find men and women that have inspired me to grow, pushed me to succeed, and helped me get back on my feet when I have fallen in my leadership journey. Grace Church is blessed with an amazing group of pastors and lay-leaders whom God has uniquely gifted to serve our congregation and our community. What a blessing it has been to learn from them!

As I have studied, observed, and stood next to some of these individuals, one thing has consistently stuck out to me: their humility and glorification to God in success. Then again, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. Not only are some of these people the most inspirational leaders I know, they are also the most fiercely-devoted Jesus followers in my life.

Jesus is, after all, the leader of leaders. Hands down, the greatest leader of all time. Kings, queens, and even your favorite President of The United States would never stack up against the Lord of Lords, Emmanuel. Yet, when we examine the scriptures, study the life of Jesus, and understand the people He surrounded himself with, we see a very different picture of a leader than what our 21st century depiction of a successful political or cultural leader might look like today.

King Jesus is the King of Kings, but, unlike kings and queens of 2021, He did not have an elegant entourage. No, He chose to hang out with everyday people, tend to the sick, and sit next to sinners. Jesus did not dress in fancy robes or wear jewels. Rather, He made an effort to be the antithesis of the Pharisees and Sadducees of His day, making religion more about relationships than hierarchy. Perhaps, most importantly, Jesus was not a leader that was focused on Himself. He preached love, addressed the needs of others, and ultimately sacrificed Himself for the good of humanity and in obedience to His Father.

Examining the life of Jesus gives us insight into the heart of leadership. I think Jesus makes it quite clear to us how we can truly become great leaders and great disciples in this one simple, yet beautifully complex commandment:

 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31.

What does humility mean to you?

Might you consider making a two-bullet to-do list for yourself today?

Bullet one- how can I love God more deeply this week?

Bullet two- what is one thing I can do to love someone this week?

Taylor Bennington

July 8 – Leadership

Read Matthew 5:13-16

Leadership. 

Interesting word.  According to a survey done over 10 years ago, there were over 15,000 books in print about leadership.  15,000!  What images immediately come to your mind when you think of leadership.  Do you think of ORG charts, thrones and crowns, or plush offices?  Or perhaps you think of the person or persons who are in charge.  Over the years we have seen implosions in leadership in government, churches, businesses, and non-profits.  Those stories and experiences are sad and make us wonder: what is real leadership and why is it so easy to write about and so hard to do?

Over the next two weeks we are going to dive into what God says in the Word about leadership.  Now, before you delete the email and cross yourself off the list proclaiming, “I’m not a leader” let’s make sure we’re on the same page.  When most of us think of leadership, we think of the gift or skill of leading.  It’s someone who goes first, gathers people, casts vision, and leads teams and organizations in particular directions.  Chances are most people don’t see themselves as that kind of a leader.  However, leadership defined at its core essence is ‘influence’.  Organizational leaders might have the skill of leveraging their influence, but the truth is that everyone has influence.  Some have a lot of it and others have some of it.  But everyone has influence.  Since you’re included in ‘everyone’, my friend, you have influence!  As followers of Christ, we are called by God to leverage our influence for spiritual impact. 

In the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus said,

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16

You have influence.  You are called to leverage your influence.  Whether you are a leader of a company, lead your shift at work, lead your Grace Group, lead a team of young athletes, or lead your children at home, you have influence.  You are called to leverage that influence in a way that both honors God and helps others discover a relationship with God.  In the passage above, Jesus doesn’t tell us to become salt or become light, He says we are salt and we are light because we have a relationship and connection with Him.  Now, take who you are in Jesus and leverage it for the sake of others so they will see your work and give glory to Your Father in Heaven!  When leaders leverage their authentic influence, Jesus is made famous. 

Are you ready to leverage your influence?  Take 5 minutes and write down the names of people God has placed in your life with whom you have influence.  Pray over their name and ask God to open doors of opportunity for you to lead for God’s sake!

Nick Cleveland