by Grady King –
A friend of mine recently reminded me that good leaders are weight bearers. The phrase, “weight bearers” conjures up carrying a load, bearing burdens, being responsible. Inherent to all of this is anxiety. No church rejected Paul more than the Corinthian church. Paul, however, yearned for them to be devoted to Christ and see the “super apostles” for what they were—false and deceitful. He received no wage from the church for his preaching or ministry. He did not burden them with his needs. Others supported him so that he could minister to the Corinthians. He feels “divine jealousy” for them—he loves them.” (2 Cor. 11, 8, 9, 11, 13-15). After stating a litany of sufferings compared to the boasting of the “super apostles” he says,
“And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.”
(2 Cor. 11.28).
Paul was a weight bearer for the sake of others. Bearing anxiety is weighty. This is his argument for his care, love and apostleship among the Corinthians.
To lead is to bear the weight of others. It goes with the territory of following Jesus and living a sacrificial life. Avoiding, complaining and blaming leaves us hollow in character and devoid of leadership. Leaders certainly have to do self-care, but not at the expense of those we lead. Those who take responsibility for their own emotional well being have the greatest capacity to be weight bearers and lead well. This is why leading is often lonely and time with Jesus is indispensable. Leaders bear the weight of:
- The integrity of the gospel. People watch and judge the the relationship of our words and behaviors.
- The attitudes we embody— People see, hear, sense and experience our attitudes. As leaders we are not too good to do anything, but know we cannot do everything.
- The hopes and fears of the congregation— People listen closely to the language of leaders. Words matter. Acknowledging fears, instilling hope and inspiring confidence is part of weight bearing.People watch and judge the the relationship of our words and behaviors.
- The cares and burdens of people—People need to talk, to get things “off their chest” without others jumping to fix the problem mode. Deep listening and staying connected is great spiritual work. The first move of leaders is to listen deeply—it communicates value. And with value comes trust. No trust. No leadership.
In a time of cultural chaos, high church anxiety, and the futility of quick fixes, leadership as weight bearing is essential and in short supply. When we, as leaders, recoil from weight bearing, we fail to lead. Is it easy? No! Is it essential? Absolutely!
This is leadership.
“Live in a manner worthy of the gospel”— Philippians 1. 27
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself taking on the form of a slave”—Philippians 2.5
“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”—Galatians 6.2
Jesus says, “Come. Bring your weariness. My yoke is easy. My burden is light” (Mt 11.28f).
Jesus shows us that weight bearing is about being present—fully present.