The Deeply Connected Leader
“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.” Philippians 2:25
As a leader, sometimes I think I have to have it all together. That I need to present this image of a strong, confident woman who’s always ready to serve and never in need. This type of thinking, however, leads to emotional isolation and severe impairment when difficulties come. I’ve discovered that I cannot fulfill my calling alone. I cannot live life alone. If I want to stand strong, I must bolster my heart and my faith with deep, interdependent relationships.
Over a decade ago, I launched a children’s ministry I felt certain was God ordained. Initially, the ministry thrived. Many parents and children regularly visited my website and I frequently spoke to homeschool and children’s ministry groups locally and afar. But though I had cheerleaders who affirmed me from a distance, I largely served Christ alone. Every once in a while, I’d experience a sting of aloneness, yet I deceived myself into thinking I was fine, that I didn’t “need” anyone else.
But then difficulties hit, one after the other, and I became weary and discouraged. Though I fought valiantly for a while, standing on my own, without anyone to prop me up and continually redirect me to truth, I quit. The once thriving ministry died.
As a leader, I often reflect on that experience—it’s glorious beginning and tragic end. I remind myself that I cannot walk this faith journey alone. If I try, though I might succeed for a while, eventually I’ll encounter problems and challenges bigger and longer-lasting than my strength and “resolve.” I’ll need an Epaphroditus—a sister, a co-worker, a fellow soldier, a messenger—to come alongside me, to encourage and support me, and perhaps provide the resources I lack. And my Timothy and Epaphrodituses will need the same from me.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, podcast host, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, iBelieve is a multi-published author of Building a Family among other titles who also writes articles, Bible studies, and devotions. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com or book her for your next women’s event.
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