Written by Alpha Asia Pacific with Reverend Abel Cheah, Leadership Development Director at Alpha Asia Pacific and pastor at Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang
As the world begins to wake up from a forced hibernation post-COVID, we are only beginning to come to terms with what we have lost, and what we are now aware is broken.
As Christ-followers, we are called to shine the light of Christ (Matthew 5:14-16), especially in these dark times. But for many of us who are entrusted with leading or taking care of others, bringing light and hope has never been more difficult as we face societal rage at institutions along with a deep sense of displacement and loss.
In all this, we are not left without a guide. Jesus was the greatest leader who walked the earth, and some of the earliest words He spoke in His public ministry give us a model of how to act and be in seasons of brokenness.
Here are 3 teachings from Jesus to help us lead and journey with each other amid loss:
1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3)
At the start of His ministry, Jesus proclaimed both a blessing and a role for the “poor in spirit”: they are blessed, and they are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. In that society where religious leaders modelled spiritual sufficiency and superiority by obeying laws, Jesus debunked that by telling them about the blessing of admitting spiritual poverty.
To be poor in spirit is to recognise our desperate need for God in our lives. In the same way wealth gives us the power of options, being poor in spirit means accepting that “I have no other option, no true alternative, apart from the grace of God”.
With this, we learn that being a leader isn’t a matter of position, authority, or control, but of stewardship and humility. It means that we don’t take it upon ourselves to rescue others and fix their problems. Instead, we learn to become absolutely reliant on the Spirit to guide our decisions and provide for our needs.
Leaders who are poor in spirit are rich in favour because those who have emptied their hands and opened their hearts are most ready to receive God’s blessings.
2. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)
This Beatitude is not referring to a kind of sadism that says, “God loves it when we are sad”. On the contrary, it speaks about God’s deep love for us and His presence with those of us who mourn due to trials, wrong doings, loss, and disappointments.
In 2 Corinthians 7:10, we are told, “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”. There is blessing for the broken-hearted—for those who have turned to God in repentance and for those who have chosen to share in the pain of others. To them belongs the promise of comfort.
You might have been hurt by serving hurting people. Have you wept because of some brokenness in your family, team, or community? Do you regularly come alongside those who are facing death, loss, and grief?
There is a kind of mourning that leads to healing and not destruction. It’s a mourning that takes us back to God so we can seek His healing and forgiveness.
Healthy, Christ-following leaders who receive God’s grace and comfort can help others make sense of painful events. Those who receive the comfort of God can be a comfort unto others (2 Corinthians 1:3).
3. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)
This is perhaps the most surprising blessing thus far. In a time of disarray and trouble, meekness doesn’t come naturally to problem-solvers. It’s usually not in the vocabulary of action planners.
But we must remember: Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is the combination of gentleness and self-control, the fruit of the Spirit that gives us the character of Christ.
To understand what meekness is, it is helpful to look at the history of this word. There were 3 common uses for this word in the Greek world that helped people understand how meekness is a kind of controlled strength:
Firstly, it was used by doctors to describe the potency of medicine and the appropriate dose—too much and it could poison, but just right, and it would heal.
Secondly, it was used to describe the force of the wind by sailors. A gentle breeze is refreshing, but a hurricane is destructive. That it’s gentle means it is good, not weak.
Thirdly, it was used by farmers in the breaking of a wild horse. A farmer would break their horses, not of their strength, but of their stubbornness. Meekness shows when the horse’s wildness is contained and its strength, controlled, enables it to carry its rider into battles.
In all three examples, meekness is a great power that is used wisely, with restraint. It comes from understanding that God is our true source of power, and being under His control and care enables us to withstand any difficulty and display a gentle strength in the way we care for others.
Demonstrating meekness requires courage, strength, and humility. It starts with empathic listening and leads one to create safe spaces for people. Practising meekness enables us to gently yet firmly steer each other through tough times, to gather, work together, and help each other.
In the face of brokenness, this is how we can minister like Jesus: with a posture of surrender, a broken heart, and a meek spirit.
Some questions to reflect on:
- What does it mean to lead with a reliance on the Holy Spirit? How does this change the way I communicate vision, strategy and goal-setting?
- God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet.—Jackie Pullinger. What would happen if I chose to lead with a heart that breaks for others?
- How can I model ‘power under control’? Where can I share power and influence with others?
This article was originally published on Alpha Asia Pacific’s website here. This version has been edited by YMI.
For more leadership resources, read here on how to stay motivated amid a time of reset and re-evaluation.
Alpha is an effective form of evangelism when done by and through the local church. By focusing on the essentials of the Christian faith, it opens the door for Alpha to be used in almost any context so that everyone has the opportunity to see their friends’ lives transformed by the gospel. Churches are now able to run the Alpha sessions online through various video conferencing platforms. To find out more, go to https://asiapacific.alpha.org/