For those of you whose leadership style is marked by a mild disposition, a demeanor that is more gentle than not, and yet you often hear that such a disposition is weakness, take heart. Do not take hold of the lie that your posture is somehow less than. I hear this enough, and it can be quite discouraging. But note the posture of our Lord Jesus, whose very life is the center of all things good. In Matthew 11:29 He tells us, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” The language of gentleness therein speaks to a measure of mildness and meekness. And yet it’s doubtful anyone would truly question the ultimate courage and strength of our Lord.
The Apostle Paul admonishes his protégé, Timothy, to deal with any “opponent with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:25). Indeed, stepping back from that one exhortation we find Paul declaring to the younger leader:
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil . . .” (2 Tim. 2:23-26).
The posture that Paul writes about is one sufficient to step toward spiritual warfare, as seen in the reference to helping people escape the devil’s snare. And to another younger ministry leader the great apostle says “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show meekness toward all people” (Titus 3:2).
Meekness is not a lack of courage. Gentleness is not weakness. Indeed, it may be the greatest stewardship of strength and courage possible. St. Francis de Sales once said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”
So you who lead with a gentle spirit, take heart! Your posture is a most Christ-like one to have. Stay the course; do not give up!