Life-Giving Leadership: Needy Leaders and the Leader We Need
by Karen Hodge, Guest Writer
When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things. -Mark 6:34
For years my husband and I fed Wheaton college students after our worship services. On any given week we had no idea how many students would show up. It could be four or forty. The weeks the vans were filled with hungry college boys, I prayed like crazy the food would stretch. The disciples found themselves in a similar quandary. They saw five thousand men, plus women and children. The only food they could find was five loaves and two fishes. The disciples were needy leaders. They needed money. They needed food. They needed rest after a long day of ministering to people. They needed faith to believe that Christ would provide. It seems they were thinking let’s do the reasonable thing. They encouraged Jesus to send the people away, but Jesus wanted to do something that was unreasonable, supernatural. The disciples did not understand their most pressing need was not to feed the people and solve their problems. There was absolutely no way they were going to check that off their to-do list. Their greatest need was to simply look to Jesus, to point the people to Jesus. Jesus is the creator and multiplier of small things. He wanted His disciples to see the bigger picture. He wanted them to see the people instead of the predicament. A life-taking leader is task-driven and sees projects as the priority. A life-giving leader sees and cares for people.
Jesus is the leader we need. He stands as a Jewish father at a banquet table. He tells all His children to sit down in family groups in the grass near the water. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul” (Psalm 23: 1-3). Jesus is the tender leader we need. He is a shepherding leader who lovingly leads His children. He is the Father who can create something nourishing out of nothing. He lifts the bread and breaks it open. He blesses it and then He passes it out to His kids. Jesus is the life-giving leader who sustains their very life. He gives His children what they need. Later in the book of Mark, He will institute another meal. “And as they were eating, He took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is My body” (Mark 14:22). He will feed us as the Bread of Life. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51). Jesus gives the ultimate as a leader. He lays down His life and gives us Himself.
When feeding all our college students I dare say there were not too many weeks there were any leftovers, maybe a bit of salad in a bowl, but never a chocolate chip cookie. Jesus is the leader who gives us exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). There are twelve baskets of fish and bread left, amazing! One thing for sure, no college student ever said to me, “Mrs. Hodge, I am completely satisfied”. I am not saying they were not thankful. Over the years I got a lot of hugs. More often than not it was like, “Hey. Is there any more ice cream?” This Scripture text records they all ate and were all satisfied. Jesus is the leader who completely satisfies us. He is the supernatural Bread that will satisfy us for eternity. Jesus is the leader we need.
- Do you understand your deepest need as a leader is not to get tasks down but rather to feast on Jesus?
- Are you hungry for the life-giving nourishment only Jesus can provide through His Word? Then eat, dear one.
- Are you looking for things that will never satisfy? Then look to Jesus the Bread of Life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Hodge serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). Her joy is to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband Chris Hodge, Senior Pastor at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, IL. She is the mother to two adult children Anna Grace Botka and Haddon. It is from the perspective of a wife, mother, leader, and fellow pilgrim that she hopes to bring the hope of the gospel to the hearts of women. Karen, along with Susan Hunt, authored Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership.
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