Scripture: Mark 7:1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them…5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ 8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Observation: Not exactly what I would call a strategy to win friends and influence people. Jesus was very blunt in his criticism, which is not the sort of conduct one typically associates with Jesus – the Prince of Peace. Truth is, Jesus regularly confronted people – be they religious leaders like Pharisees and scribes or his own disciples. And at other times Jesus was compassionate and merciful. Depended on the situation.
Application: Jesus modeled for us a balanced leadership style alternating between encouragement and challenge. Everyone carries capacity for both, but most of us find one comes more naturally than the other. When dealing with other people, some of us find support/encouragement comes easily for us while confrontation/challenge are hard. Others have no problem confronting others and bringing challenge, it’s the support/encouragement part that is not so easy. A mature leader is able to do both depending on the situation.
Question: Which comes more easily for you – encouragement/support or confrontation/challenge?
If you are equally capable at both, consider yourself fortunate. For the rest of us, development of the other side will generally make us more effective leaders – whether at home/school/work/church… wherever. Let’s pray.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you demonstrated a remarkable capacity to calibrate your approach to those around you depending on a the situation. Give us grace to grow as leaders who bring the right sort of engagement at the right time. We pray in your holy name. Amen.