Acts 16: 9-15
May 1, 2016 – EPC
Will you join me in a moment of prayer?
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable in your sight O God, our strength and our redeemer, amen.
Lydia is one of my favourite women in the Bible and especially the new or second testament.
She was a business woman… resourceful…
She is peaceful, yet attentive—good traits for a successful merchant—and she has learned to quickly assess potential buyers and sellers…In business, one must make quick judgments, synthesizing information. (Linday Hardin Freeman)
She is a leader in her community.
She has initiative… and she is the first person in Europe to be baptized and follow the man Paul told her about… Jesus.
One of these days, I am going to take a trip to the Middle East and perhaps follow one of Paul’s journeys.
Just look at this:
This is quite a journey Paul undertook.
In our time of easy travel, where we can be on the other side of the world in less than 24 hours, it’s mind boggling to imagine this kind of journey… probably by foot, camel and water…
Both Lydia and Paul displayed leadership.
Paul by undertaking long journeys and establishing Christian communities wherever he was welcomed.
Lydia, by being open to God’s message right where she lived, worked and served God.
Different ways of leading, but the same components.
I was struggling with my reflection title on Thursday and then started to play around with the word Leadership, which is how I wound up with this:
Without LOVE, love of God, and love of the people you are serving and leading, very little can be accomplished.
I forgot one though… listening… we need to listen to each other… to God… to the spirit…
ESSENCE – knowing the essence of who you are allows you to offer yourself and your gifts, talents and skills to the world.
ACCEPTANCE – Are you accepting and welcoming of new ideas? New ways to explore being followers of Jesus?
DECISIONS – Are you willing to participate in making hard decisions? Decisions that threaten the status quo, decisions that are guided by God for the good of the whole faith community and not just for some?
EAGER – Are you, are we eager to pray and listen to God? Are you and we eager to enter more fully into a life of love, peace and justice?
RESPECT – Do you, do we have respect for each other? For ourselves? For the notion that individually we don’t have all the answers, but together, with God leading us and Jesus’s example, we can forge a new way forward?
SPIRIT – Do you, do we have a sense that the Spirit is at work in our community? Inside the church and outside the church?
HOPE – Do you, do we have a sense of hope? Not a wishy washy, pie in the sky sort of hope, but the hope that is grounded in a sense of awe and wonder? A sense of hope that puts its working clothes on and spreads hope to a hurting world?
Inspiration – Are you, are we inspired by God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Are we encouraged and do we take heart from examples of people down through the ages?
Presence – Are you, are we willing to be present to one another. Are you, are we willing to stick together, even in the difficult times, even when we don’t get our own way, even if we argue with each other? Are you, are we willing to be present, mind, body and spirit, time talent and treasure?
If so, you might be a leader!
Paul and Lydia expressed their leadership in very different ways.
Just as each of you will express yours in different ways.
Click here for a video of leadership according to geese.
THE WISDOM OF GEESE:
Next time when you see geese heading South for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might consider the wisdom of their ways:
As each bird flaps its wing, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in the V shape, they achieve 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
* People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
* If we had their wisdom, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way as we are.
When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
* Take turns with the demanding jobs – and leadership is one of them.
Geese honk from behind to encourage those upfront to keep up their speed.
Finally, when a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls our of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend it help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation, to catch up with their group.
* Consider what it might be like if we truly stood by each other like geese do.
The lesson here is TEAMWORK. If we have the sense of a goose, we should stand by each other, protect one another and perhaps make new friends who seem to be heading in the same direction.
Many of you have offered leadership to our pastoral charge for years, sometimes decades.
Are you tired?
With depths of gratitude that can hardly be expressed, we thank you for your service.
I think you deserve to take a break from leading us… to let the flapping of our wings bear you up… to honk from behind… encouraging us… because we need your encouragement… your wisdom and your dedication…
Love & Listening
Thanks be to God for examples of leaders in our Bible, thanks be to God for those who have offered leadership here and in the wider community, thanks be to God for each of you. Amen.