Understanding Church Leadership 9

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By Pastor Raphael Adegoke 

16Woe to you, O land whose king is a youth, and whose princes feast in the morning. 17Blessed are you, O land whose king is a son of nobles, and whose princes feast at the proper time—for strength and not for drunkenness. (Eccl 10: 16-17)

Glory be to God in the highest for His love towards us. May His will alone be done and His counsel be established in our lives. Amen! Last Tuesday, we discussed active listening as one of the attributes of servant-leaders, but today we shall be considering empathy.

One of the reasons we don’t have great leaders today is because people don’t prepare themselves for leadership. Leaders know ahead of time that they would become leaders and they lay the foundation while they follow. These know that their following well will determine their leading well. Any leader that starts laying the foundation of his leadership after he has emerged a leader may never be able to have genuine influence of a leader. This is because in following you must be able to put yourself in the shoes of the one that leads you, because this attitude (empathy) is one of the greatest assets you will ever need to lead a people well.

What then is empathy? It is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. This was one of the servant-leader strengths of our Lord Jesus Christ “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.” (Heb 4:14-15).  Great leaders don’t lead in isolation. They don’t live outside of the system they lead.

Leaders are surrounded by different kinds of people. Some are strong while some are weak, some are experienced while some are inexperienced, and some are mature while some are immature. Our ability to relate with each accordingly determines our exceptionality as leaders. Jesus charged Peter who was saddled with great responsibility of spokesmanship with this. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep. (John 21:15)

Servant- leaders are dead to self, this is because they no more live for themselves but for the people they lead. They are dead to personal ambitions and alive to God’s purpose, especially in the lives of the ones they lead while they feel secure in the hand of the Lord for their own fulfillment. That’s why they can’t afford to be babes that still feed on milk or still reflect infant desires. They feed for strength, not for pleasure.

Pastor Raphael Adegoke is a Pastor in Christ Apostolic Church (Nigeria & Overseas) and a Lecturer in Christ Apostolic Church Theological Seminary.

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