Take a little break these days in December and re-center yourself with these devotions from the Sunday| Mag contributors.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. (Titus 3:1-2)
Right out of high school I got my first “real job” a parts runner at a local heavy equipment (tractor) dealer. Although I had other jobs—raceway security guard, janitor, and my personal favorite: roller rink DJ—this was my first full-time, real pay job.
This was at the height of the 1980’s housing boom in Southern California. With lots of dirt to be moved, bulldozers and graders were working overtime. Being in the industry that fixed said tractors, we worked overtime as well and 60-hour weeks were not uncommon.
Our warehouse foreman was Bill. Bill was a 50-something year-old retired Military Police Sargent. He was compact and scrappy. An African-American who had grown up in the south and joined the Air Force when he was 17 and spent his life in the military training police officers. He was also a proud husband and father. Although the staff was a mix of college-age kids and retired military men, it quickly became clear that Bill was not only the leader, but also the “father” of the group. He quickly took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.
No matter how many times I made a mistake—and with nearly ten-thousand parts in stock, that was easy to do—he would calmly correct me and show me the way “we do it” every time. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bill was not a push over. He was a rock… a military man… there’s no doubt about it. Bill was, however, a gentle leader. We were in 150 mph mode much of the time, but Bill never got upset or yelled at his staff. I have never forgotten that.
Bill’s leadership style helped form me. And though I have not always been as benevolent as he was, I am always trying to hit that mark.
It’s obvious from reading Titus 2:1-3 that we please God when we treat others with gentleness. I believe that it can have as much of an affect on our hearts as it does on those receiving our gentleness. Most of us are not genuinely gentle by nature. But God only wants to change everything about us that is not from him.
Those of us who serve in church—particularly in tech—encounter so many situations where we have to choose to be gentle. Most of the time, the natural response is to be abrupt and harsh. Stressful situations in production are the very time when a gentle touch would actually be the right response, even if it is not the natural one.
No matter the task or situation, no matter the attitude of the other person, we must always strive to be Christ-like. People are watching. We are leaders, whether we realize it or not.