In his letter to Philemon, Paul says, â€œâ€¦Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for loveâ€™s sake I prefer to appeal to youâ€¦â€ (vv. 8,9).
This admission by the apostle Paul is amazing! It gives us an insight into a style of leadership that separates it from many other styles. Usually bosses and managers will use any method necessary to get people to do what is required. The church is different. Ministers, teachers, pastors, elders, deacons, ministry leaders, etc.: We all can take a lesson from brother Paul.
Think of the power of love as an appeal. Individuals and groups respond more positively to appeals coming from a heart of love. Several times in Paulâ€™s letters, and other New Testament writers, the notion of â€œboldnessâ€ is held forth as a Christian virtue. We are to be bold when we approach the throne of grace, etc. However, in this case it is different.
Boldness too often is understood as brashness, crassness, manipulation, coercion, etc. Christian leadership understands the human heart. It is sensitive, sinful, broken, wounded, and hurting. No human heart is exempt. Only the blood of Jesus can heal the human heart, but that healing is often incarnational through the human touch of Christian leaders.
We all who claim to be in leadership/serving roles have our work cut out for us! We could command people to do what is required. But the power of love is stronger than any authoritative command!
Whether we like it or not, individuals and groups are powerfully impacted by our appeals based on the power of love. When people do not feel loved, no amount of appeals or commands will work. On the other hand, a loving response is usually forthcoming when appeals are made â€œfor loveâ€™s sake.â€
Dr. Curtis D. McClane has a long history of church ministry and is currently Minister of the Word, Prayer and Outreach at Highland View Church of Christ, 138 Providence Road in Oak Ridge. He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Johnson University, and as a Senior Tutor/Adjunct Instructor at Oxford Graduate School. For more information, go to www.highlandviewchurch.org.