The Two Faces of Leadership

Mother and Child

“As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but we were as gentle among you as a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we gave you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”

The Apostle Paul had founded the church in the city of Thessalonica. Persecution had forced Paul and his ministry partner, Silas, to leave town after just a few weeks. You can read the whole exciting story here. As soon as he could, Paul wrote the Thessalonian Christians a letter reminding them of the things that he had taught them. This letter also included some excellent insights into his leadership style.

In this letter, Paul discusses the two faces of leadership. He says that when he was with the Thessalonians, he was as gentle “as a mother feeding and caring for her own children.” The first face of leadership is that of a mother. There are many times when we need to be “mom” to people. This is especially true of new or weak Christians.

Paul said that he gently nurtured and fed the new believers. The picture here is of a nursing mother. She is feeding her baby from her own body. This requires her to be healthy and nourished herself. As leaders, we can only feed people if we are healthy ourselves. If we are not feeding ourselves on God’s Word and spiritual food, we are not going to have anything to feed others with.

Mothers also convey a gentleness that fathers just cannot duplicate. Sometimes, Paul seems to be saying, the best thing that we can do as leaders is to give the person a hug or or a kind word to let them know that we believe in them. A good mom has a way of reassuring and comforting their child that lets them know everything is going to be okay.

In pointing out this first face of leadership, it is important to remember that this is not a male/female thing. Guy leaders also have to convey the “mom” side of leadership. Over and over again Paul tells leaders to lead with a spirit of gentleness.

The second face of leadership is that of a father. To be continued…

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