Do We Have a Leader’s Heart?

This article attempts to extract from the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians what were some of the key attitudes of the apostle towards leadership in his life and ministry. Please note that the concept of leadership as we understand it in this article applies to every person, since all of us have roles of leadership in certain spheres of our lives. The reflection aims at sensitizing everyone of us to develop a leader’s heart inspired by Paul.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who hope in his steadfast love (Psalm 147:11)

Do we ask God to help us having a leader’s heart, as the one Paul showed to have? We criticize spiritual leaders around us; sometimes rightly so, sometimes not. Jesus warned  that there would be those teaching what people wanted to hear, instead of God’s truth. Prophets before Him and apostles after Him have also been warning us against this. Their words have been recorded and preserved to this day, for us to read, in the Bible.

We must imperatively remember that if there are false prophets, there are also true ones. If there are those teaching without sincerity, there are those who teach with sincerity. If there are those leading their hearers into a path of death through lies and seductions, there are also those who lead towards life telling the truth on behalf of God. If there are, even amongst Christians, those whose opposition to Christ is made in the name of Christ, there are also those who teach the very message of Christ, in truth and with His approval.

Before meditating upon the leader’s heart as demonstrated concerning Paul in Scriptures, let us ask a few questions about where we ourselves stand with this respect. What sort of inner attitudes do we carry toward people under our leadership? Do we pray for them? What sorts of things do we do in that which pertain to our responsibilities toward them? Do we place the interest of others ahead of our own? Are our relationships characterized by truth, sincerity and faithfulness toward what God requires from us?

Paul Manifested the Outward Signs of Having a Leader’s Heart

As we are about to delve into 2 Corinthians seeking to observe the outward manifestation of a leader’s heart. I invite you to listen for yourselves. This you may do, for example, using the English Standard Version Dramatized available from Bible.Is.

Having read this letter a few times in various translations, I was touched, first of all, by the sincerity of the apostle. Next to that, what stood up for me was Paul’s trust in God. He had learned to rely upon God’s strength, instead of his own strength. Also, i was happily struck by the fact that he spoke frankly and truthfully.

Yet another important characteristic of Paul’s leadership is that he counted it as more important to achieve well his task of ambassador for Christ, even at the cost of not  defending his personal reputation, whenever necessary.  This included the audacity of saying to others what they did not like to hear if that’s what they needed to grow in faith.

Paul also demonstrated a remarkable zeal to communicate the message of God to those persons whom God wanted it to be told on His behalf. On the other hand, I was intrigued and edified to observe Paul’s sensitivity in setting aside a door that had been opened by the Lord to proclaim the Gospel because he worried about Titus (2 Cor. 2:12-13).

Moreover, Paul recognized that his ability to live as God wanted Him to came from God not from his own efforts or as a result of the zeal which he is ceaselessly giving proof of.  Paul rested upon ways of doing that were conform to the will of God and faith in Him, instead of trusting in ways of doing that came from the world. As he was facing oppositions or obstacles to Christ’s message he stayed steadfast in his ways (2 Cor 5).

In fact, Paul knows that he is fighting against modes of reasoning that rise in opposition to the knowledge of Christ and of God. His talking aims at destructing such obstacles. But he does so with the strength and methods provided by God, praying to Him, trusting in the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of his hearers. Trusting the Giver of Life to lead people to the peace that comes with abiding in Christ as a result of new birth. Trusting the Light of the world to shine in the heart of those immersed in darkness.

What more? Many a time within 2 Corinthians and in his other letters as well, Paul demonstrates his profound love and sincere interest towards the persons that God placed under his leadership so that they would come to know Christ and then grow in Him.

The Leader’s Heart that Paul’s Example Invites us to Grow

What effect can Paul’s example have on us living in the 21st Century?  All of us have functions of leaders in some circumstances and within some circles. How does Paul’s example contribute to inspire or to encourage us with regard to our own leadership? Are there not some specific areas about which the Spirit of God is inviting us to trust Him? Growing in our faith and trust in Him through tough times with regard to leadership? Trusting God for growth in our willingness and determination to obey Him as we lead? Do we need growth in our love and sensitivity toward those — loved by God — and with whom our common Father entrusted us with a leadership fucntion and relationship.

May be the area we need to grow the most as leaders is learning to accept and receive the love God has toward ourselves! May be do we need to grow in the love we have toward God, our Father, toward Christ, His Son, our Savior, toward the Spirit, who lives in us, through faith in Christ, who lives in us as a gift from our Father and from His Son. This Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, who gives us eternal life and, here and now, peace of heart.

If y0u have not yet done so, please do listen to this epistle while reading it, for example, in the English Standard Version Dramatized available through Bible.Is. And please let us know what leadership attitudes you observed in Paul’s life and ministry that you could ask the Lord to help you develop with regard to the people God put in your life.

The article Do We Have a Leader’s Heart? may be consulted in its original language of publication, Spanish, under the title ¿Tenemos un corazón de líder?

You may communicate with me through the indications under Questions or Comments.

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA;
Published in Spanish: February 19, 2018;
Translated to English: March 6;
Edited: March 8 and March 27, 2018.

 

Can Married Couples be Restored?

Can married couples be restored? Can God restore old broken married couples? What about Christian couples struggling in situations where they see no exit? My answer: assuredly! My wife and I spent a number of years in a situation that could too often have been described as more painful than joyful, yet we both remained faithful to one another.

I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me (Jonas 2.2, ESV)

In fact, without knowing it, we were trying, as many do, to fill through each other the unanswered needs from our past. This is often the case, for intimate relationships tend to reactivate childhood wounds in need of being healed. According to the therapist Hartville Hendrix’s Getting The Love You Want, it is in the context of a real commitment to each other that those wounds can be healed, as we have also experimented ourselves.

This has been far from obvious though. For a long time, we tried very hard to get things fixed, but somehow never seemed to succeed. After a while, we just let go of the issues that bothered us, and both agreed to disagree about our perceptions, no longer really trying to convince the other. We just lived side by side as best we could while we focused each on our own responsibility before God. I then discovered some of the relational patterns that I had developed when I was young, and on the basis of which I was still interacting; I began to replace these for more effective strategies. It was a first step.

At the same time, about ten years ago, I was asked by my supervisor to hire someone to replace me on the specific job I had been hired to do for my employer, because I wanted to take other responsibilities at work. As it turned out, I trained this person, and worked alongside her for six months. She was a Christian, from a different branch of the Church than ours, and we had some very interesting conversations together.

She was one of the means God used in my life to think through what the basis of my faith had been. This led me to identify one specific area of my life I had let myself slip into. The Holy Spirit of God made it clear to me that He wanted me to repent from it – no later than right now! The impression left on me by this realization was so clear that I became convinced I needed to make a choice right there and then. So I did, immediately. From then on, the guilt that had greatly burdened me, and indirectly affected my relationships, completely disappeared. I was freed from it, liberated as if from a rush of wind from God.

What followed was a series of steps where I went from the position of one who feels a victim of circumstances, as if a prison of a spiritual nature encased me, to one who knew he was God’s son, a prince under the authority of Christ, co-heir with the King. It became clear to me that I could call upon my Father, and receive answers to my petitions in resisting whatever temptations were before me. I am not saying here that I became sinless. What I am saying is that I became a warrior against the forces of darkness – as I had been in earlier years. I remembered who I was in Christ, and I began to be much more efficient in turning immediately to my source of strength for fighting sin.

These changes became the basis for a new outlook in my relationship to my wife. She saw the changes that had occurred with me. I also began to pray God for her every time she did or said something that I did not like. I began bathing her in prayer, until one day she told me she felt loved and accepted. Our relationship then took a completely different turn. It must be specified that in the mean time, my wife was also going through experiences of spiritual liberation of her own. This allowed her to welcome the renewed person I had become, walking along with me anew, closer than we ever had been.

Our adult children – who were no longer living at home at the time, and both had careers of their own – began teasing my wife and I. Eventually – within the same year – they  began saying things like: “Mom, dad is courting you! Don’t you see it?”.  A little later they began to teasingly accuse us of suffering from blind love ! A good problem, isn’t it? : “You are really strange parents, they said jokingly. It seems as if you both believe the other has no defects or shortcomings of any sort. You are like young lovers who just met.

Up to this day, my wife and I still enjoy a very good relationship for which we thank the Lord.  So when I say to anyone I feel the joy of Christ, and His peace within me now, these two events related just above are always in the background of my mind and heart.

People in our Church who have known us for many a year began to say that the changes they saw in us as couple have encouraged them greatly in not losing hope that God can work in their lives too in ways that they had began to despair would be possible.

Reading through the epistles of Peter, paying close attention to First Peter 5:6-11, it strikes me that the prowling evil-one tried to destroy both my wife and I, and, through us, our entire family, yet he failed. God prevailed. I am thankful to my Father.

As I conclude this article, I am raising my heart in prayer on the behalf of all who struggle in their marital relationship, and might be tempted to adopt a despairing attitude.

I pray God to use this testimony for providing some measure of hope to suffering couples. Are you amongst them? I am praying that the Holy Spirit will perhaps lead you to the right people, or that He will bring home to you some passages of Scriptures, in such a way that it will help you understand your own situation in a better light. I am praying that He will enable you to trust Him to set things right in your own heart, so that you will know how to restore whatever needs to be, both in relationship to your spouse and to your God. I pray that you will want to do whatever needs be done with this regard.

I first published the above testimony, December 10, 2014, on Christian Forum Site, under Forums –> General Forums –> New Members Welcome –> New to group… how much help has this group been to you? It has been adapted to better suit its present context, and amplified to provide a richer human dimension to what occurred spiritually.

Relying on God helped you getting through situations that seemed desperate at times or this article was helpful to you in some ways,  feel free to let me and others know of it.

You wish to get involved and discuss further about the above topic, please consider doing so at Christian Forum Site. I will be happy to engage with you there.

We also would like you to feel more than welcome to join our nascient (as of this writing) trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). Or, you may simply share some aspect of your hard-gained life experience in the box below.

You may communicate with me through the indications under Questions or Comments.

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA.
February 7, 2018.

Loving with Opened Eyes !

Loving with opened eyes is loving a person for who she is in reality, instead of loving her as we would like her to be according to our imaginary world based on personal preferences. This is far from always being obvious.  I came to realize that I sometimes had a tendency to project upon others the qualities I would like to find in them. I observed this with regards not only to individual persons, but also to groups in certain periods of my life. When I am disappointed with such expectation toward a person or a group, I begin to feel a sort of inner turmoil which is difficult to describe.

His way is in whirlwind and storm ( Nahum 1.3, ESV)

In this article, I would like to share with you what I have learned from such a struggle, and how it led me to review how God should be my all in all. To do so, I will invite you to ask yourselves such questions as the following: Is it the image of a person that you love? Do you love the person for who she is really? Do we love the image of Christian leaders? Is it the image we create for ourself about a group – Christian or not – that we love? And I will close with a challenge to love not with folded eyes but with eyes wide opened.

Loving with opened eyes or loving the image we form of a person?

At times – and it took me many years to come to this understanding – I have observed that I come to new relationships attributing to certain persons the qualities I would like to find in them, without them necessarily having these. I then appreciate these persons in part because I perceive them through the filter of the virtues I am supposing they have.

When I come to realize that they do not own-up to these personal characteristics, I begin to experiment a feeling of deception. Pleasant emotions are replaced by unpleasant ones. Instead of wanting to be with such a person or of hearing her advice, I shift into a mode according to which I no longer wish to find myself in the presence of that person.

Do we love people as they really are?

The above reflection led me to understand the importance of loving others for who they really are instead of loving or hating the image we create of them for ourselves. This in term led me to formulate for myself the maxim «loving with opened eyes» or, perhaps I should not shy away from the formulation «loving with eyes wide open», even if it is the title of a film that has little to do with what I am talking about here, the expression does.

I used this maxim or leitmotiv «loving with opened eyes» as a guiding principle to think through my expectations and dispositions toward other people, and the conditions with which I engage or refuse to do so in true Christian love, in love with a capital A.

Loving with opened eyes – or with eyes wide opened – means loving a person bearing in mind (and heart, as it were) who she really is rather than how I want here to be. This entails accepting that even the most legitimate of my expectations might not be met. For example, when a teacher does not master what he is mandated to teach me, or when a mentor lacks sensitivity towards my outlook on life.

Loving the image of Christian leaders we create for ourselves?

I realized eventually that something of that nature had occurred to me with regards to  my relationship with the very first Christian leaders God had placed in my life as mentors or as guides in my first few years of growth in the Christian life. I was expecting them to be incarnation of the Christian values, the foundations of which they were transmitting. My admiration for them was quenched when I came to realize that they were in some ways or others falling short of some of the so very important truths they were teaching.

My perspective today is to try to be of as much help as possible to people who prove themselves to be wanting in key areas of their lives, no matter their role in the Church.

Loving our own image of a group – Christian or not?

In the context of this reflection about loving with opened eyes, I also came to realize, bit by bit, that I sometimes projected to entire groups the qualities I wanted them to have. It is the same whether they be major collectivity as the Evangelical Movement in general or tiny gatherings of twenty or a subset such as a local church or a tiny Bible study group.

The principles at work are the same whether these are secular or religious groups. I sometimes understood the groups to which I belonged in terms of my own needs in relationship to this group instead of understanding who the people of these groups were. From whence I came to realize that yes sometimes we our loving the image we create for ourselves of a group instead of loving the people who are in it as they are in reality.

Loving, not blindly, but with eyes wide opened!

The present reflection led me from a love that we sometimes call «blind» to a love that makes room for the full conscience of who is the other person. This means not to exclude whatever tendencies a given person before us might have that might be unpleasant to us or aggravating to the environment we are comfortable and familiar with.

The most surprising aspect of what I am trying to describe in the present article is this. I am now under the impression that God at last granted me what I prayed for years back. That prayer – based Ephesians 3.14-21 – was that I may become able to love in truth.

The leitmotiv « loving with opened eyes », or «with eyes wide opened» led me toward this way of being and preserves me in this pursuit. One that in years past was beyond me. What seemed beyond my ability to understand and to live is now part of my life. This, as it seems to me, is a result of  what I sometimes call spiritual integration, meaning the coming together of several aspects of Christianity that it took me years to finally grasp. Jesus loves us with opened eyes so that we may love others with our eyes wide opened.

This article is also available in its original French version, Aimer les yeux ouverts ! It is itself drawn from my autobiographical essay, Dieu et moi, © 2013-2015, available in a PDF version free of charge under Qui suis-je ? of Savoir et croire .ca.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

Daniel Garneau
December 13, 2018.