Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.

As a pastor, funerals are never a thing we look forward to. Sure, we have hope in Christ and it gives us an opportunity to share the hope if the deceased is a believer. But it’s still a tough time for family, friends, and the church.

A couple of years ago, I kept hearing about a gentleman that was in the hospital that served on our hospitality team. I didn’t “know” the guy, just kind of saw him at the door greeting on Sundays and gave him the casual, “good morning,” when I passed by. Even though we’re a bit of a larger church, I still make it a point to visit as many people as I can, so I stopped by one afternoon.

After several visits with this gentleman, I got to know him. Unfortunately, just a couple of months later, he passed away. I began walking his family through the process of the funeral and burial. I did the funeral and his wife became one of the most precious people in the world to me. She now prays for me and loves my family.

Why? Because I had walked through life with her. I had hurt with her. She knew I cared. I didn’t disappear after my “duties” were done. I genuinely loved her. I look forward to seeing her every Sunday morning.

Relationships are built during struggle.

I love that Jesus helps us in the struggle. He walks with us. He aids us through tough times. He leads us in the fun, joyous, and hard times.

Relationships are built during struggle.

As leaders, we learn to love those we lead by walking through life with them. By doing life with them. By being around them when they fall and allowing them to see us stumble on occasion as well. For some reason, many leaders have this idea that they have to hold those they lead at arm’s length. Not true. Protect yourself? Sure. Love full out? Definitely.

Jesus led His disciples this way. He walked through loved ones’ deaths, their hurts, and their missteps. He was there for them when they stumbled and cheered them on when they succeeded. He allowed Himself to be in their world and was tempted just as they would be. They knew he cared and so they trusted him with literally everything they had.

As leaders, we learn to love those we lead by walking through life with them.

He leads us the same way.

Jesus loves His followers. We’re called to do the same.

If you’re going to lead from love, you have to do the hard work of getting close to people. You have to walk through the difficult with them. But it’s what we’re called to do. It’s what we were made for and placed in leadership for.