If a picture paints a thousand words, then this photo paints my description of leadership. It is a portrait of a coach, one of his assistants and three of his players. But Coach K's action of reaching over a coach and another player to hold the hand of Jahlil Okafor speaks powerfully to me. This action conveys a clear message, "We are in this together. I've got your back. Whether we win this game or lose this game, we do it together. But I need you, and I believe in you."
Who has been this kind of leader or mentor to you?
I think of a senior pastor who did everything he could to enable me to flourish as his associate in my first year after seminary, pushing me into places where my gifts could be fully utilized.
I think of a seminary dean who listened to my vision for a new recruitment strategy, heard my heart, and doubled my budget, enabling me to put together pieces the school had never used before.
I think of a district superintendent who stood by my side and built me up when the most vocal people in the congregation were tearing me down.
I think of a bishop who stopped by the church one day to see the new construction, but then heard my heart, prayed for me and presented an offering with the words, "I just want to encourage you."
I think of a 97-year-old church member whose church was in serious decline, closer to closure than new life, who looked me in the eye and said, "We need you. You can do this. You have the best job in Washington."
I realize I would not be half the person I am today without leaders and mentors who have invested in me - individuals who have not only said "I support you" but who have genuinely walked alongside me in real and tangible ways.
What would it mean for us to be this kind of leader for others? What would we have to stop doing so we could invest more time in the people we are privileged to supervise, mentor and manage? What if the future of the church depended on this kind of leadership? And perhaps not only the church but every organization that is needed by society today?
God, help me be this kind of leader, this kind of mentor. Amen.