Four Ways to Feed the Soul
Are you a leader? Not just by title, but in the sense of responsibility you experience toward another person. In your home, at work, in your church, or on your team? Have you ever thought yourself responsible for the souls of those you lead? Have a seat in my office, introverts, and let's discuss leadership & work.
Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account...." (ESV)
This is a hefty charge for anyone, let alone Introverts like us who tend to distance ourselves from the responsibility of others. Exactly how is one accountable for another's immaterial existence?
Unless we're pastoral leaders, charged with the keeping a watchful eye on individual members of the flock, we may not even be qualified to do so.
And how do we do that in today's workforce where religion and politics elicit riot-sized responses and where we are restricted from imposing our views on others?
Imposing does not have to mean we come out swinging with a prepared agenda, but there are steps we can take to edify those we work with.
With Christ as our example, our role is more than dictating a set of rules. As leaders, we are called to care and pray for others, loving first, and in doing so, contribute to feeding their souls.
As introverts, we provide a unique set of skills that bring edification and prayer to life. Here are four ways we can feed souls:
1) Provide a firm foundation - Introverts excel at developing a clear vision of managing for the common good. Not every decision will provide the same positive outcome for everyone involved, (how can you choose two people for one promotion?). But you can be honest about how or where the decision is leading the entire team. Honesty about even the smallest decisions can lead to trust regarding the bigger decisions.
Some of the hardest decisions I've made involved giving the problem back to the employee (or friend, or child), so they could make the decisions about their own welfare. As a fixer, I want to use my mind-mapping skills to gather the facts, connect them, and deliver the options. But there are times when feeding a soul means letting a personal decision remain with the person. You can be present walk beside them to help them see the big picture and how it connects to their day to day lives.
2) Ensure your message matches the reality of the culture. 1 Corinthians 13:1, "Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding bass or a clanging cymbal." Words can lift up but they can also create noise. For example, I once worked for a company that bragged they offered excellent benefits but charged $1200 a month for family premiums and forced a $15,000 deductible. We can't let our words be unauthentic noise that drowns any good we have done. Clear out the noise in order to hear the culture around you.
3) Don't give those you lead a false sense reality. But temper it with love. Jesus is our example. He doesn't promise we won't face conflict, but He will walk with us through the mayhem. Let loved ones, co-workers and friends know you will be there to walk beside them during the rough valleys of their careers or lives. For problems that need perseverance rather than grieving, Introverts are awesome at asking the tough questions that help build character and move through the problem, rather than around it. Challenge and inspire critical thinking that drives them to a resolution. A message to Introverted Thinkers - don't focus on logic so much that you fail to recognize emotional needs that come with any trial.
4) Connect. It is unavoidable. 1 John 4:20 says, "If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both." (MSG) Though we may crave solitude at times, we are not released from the obligation as Christ-followers to seek out the needs of others. Be a good listener. Let's ask God what someone specifically needs and how we can help provide that. Vocalize the impact your decisions have on others. Get feedback. Provide praise. Withdraw your criticism unless you are willing to attach yourself fully to their success. Bake some cookies! Whatever - Just connect.
I get it wrong on so many occasions. I need these reminders even as I write them. But words I pray desperately to live by: "let your light shine so brightly before men, that they may see good works and glorify our Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 NKJV) Now that's food for the soul.