occasionally often find myself in a bit of a leadership dilemna. There are times when I have a tendency to get too far ahead of those whom I am trying to lead. It’s not because I’m that much better or faster than them, it’s that I fail to be sensitive to where they are.
Jesus was a master communicator who was sensitive to the individualities of those who were around Him. In one place you will find Him gently correcting Martha for getting her feathers ruffled at Mary. In another, you will see Him sternly rebuking the impulsive Peter who should have known better than to try to correct the teacher. In yet another instance, see Him use what might even be considered to be heavy-handed tactics (calling the Pharisees “generation of vipers”, driving the money-changers out of the temple) to get His point across.
A great challenge to Christian leaders is to find the balanced sensitivity that Christ showed. Notice what Isaiah 42:3 has to say about Him:
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgement unto truth.
This text indicates that Jesus would be sensitive to both those who were broken and those who were on top of things. A “bruised reed” is quite literally a “cracked rod”. A rod was a very useful tool, especially for shepherds. However, if it ever became cracked due to use, age or stress, it was no longer strong enough to fulfill its purpose. Usually, so that it would not be used by mistake, the owner of a cracked rod would simply break the rod in two over his knee and throw the pieces in the fire.
How often do we discard the cracked rods? Those who are discouraged, disillusioned or defeated, those who have failed and fallen, those who strayed, do not need to be discarded as being unprofitable. We don’t need to finish breaking them. Why? Because Jesus didn’t do it. The Master had the ability to repair the cracked rod and still use it for His glory. As ministers of His grace, can God not accomplish that same healing through us?
By the same token, we should never discourage those whose passion for God is growing. Those who are a flax (a candle-wick) that are beginning to catch fire and burst into a light-giving flame for God should receive all of the encouragement that we can give. We should never quench those smoking flaxes with the cold waters of cynicism, pride or judgment.
This is an area of my life and ministry that God has been reconstructing. My prayer is that God will make me to be a better listener, a more perceptive, more compassionate, more patient, and generally more sensitive leader to those to whom I minister. I’m just glad that when I fail in these areas, He doesn’t break me over His knee and throw me away.