Philemon 14—But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will.
Ken Blanchard, an author and management expert, says, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”Sometimes as leaders we use our authority to get what we want when instead we ought to appeal from a basis of love for what we are asking. That probably sounds funny to describe leading from a position of loveyet, in truth, isn’t this exactly what God models for us?
Consider that God by His authorityas our Creator, and, by applying His omnipotent power, could demand that we follow His Son, Jesus, and force us to do so. Instead, He appeals to us on the basis of love—“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). The word that jumps out to me in the preceding verse is the word “might.” Mightis a conditional word with a profound application. Might gives us the ability to exercise free will. The Lord wants us to exercise faith and obedience towards His Son because that’s what we truly want to do! Would you rather have a child who responds freely with joy or one who acts out of compulsion?
The Apostle Paul appealed to Philemon to receive back Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave—as a dearly loved brother” (vs 16). Paul, while a chained prisoner, encouraged Onesimus to put his faith in Jesus (vs 10). He wanted to keep Onesimus because of his helpful service, but he recognized that the right thing to do was to send the escaped servant back to his master. Notice Paul precedes his statement in the meditation above by establishing earlier in his letter that he could have commanded Philemon to do what was right (vs 8). Instead, he rec0gnized the wisdom of gaining Philemon’s consent. By doing so, Philemon was not forced into accepting Onesimus but could act from the genuineness of his own reflective concurrence.
Great leaders understand that it is far better to inspire followers than it is to coerce them. Intimidation only achieves what it demands. Action without consent creates second and third order effects such as resentment, critical spirits, limited loyalty, and the loss of creative excellence that flows from a motivated heart. This is why humility is such an important and inspiring leader-attribute. Jesus set aside His godly form to assume His Isaiah 53 role. “Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7,8). What makes the cross so powerful is that it was endured by consent. Jesus then gives us the choice to trust Him. His example is epic!
Leadership by example always trumps leadership by fear.—Dick Winters quoted in Conversations with Major Dick Winters by COL (ret) Cole Kingseed
©2016 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)