Being someone who was placed into leadership at a young age, I had to learn quickly the effectiveness of a gentle word versus a harsh word. A gentle word encourages, motivates, and establishes trust. Whereas a harsh word tears down, discourages, and creates an unsafe environment. God lays out this picture for us time and time again.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..”
1 Thessalonians 5:8
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. “
The soothing tongue is a tree of life. I love this! God’s gentleness goes all the way back to the beginning, to the Garden of Eden where He formed Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sinned and took of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God wasn’t mad. In fact, Genesis 3:8 says, “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'” God was searching for His children, saying, “Please, where are you, come to me!” Because of His gentleness He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, and guarded the tree of life. This wasn’t to punish us, it was to rescue us – so that we wouldn’t eat from the tree of life, and live this way forever! This was the first act of God’s gentleness.
Being a gentle leader means choosing to livein the tree of life, rather than the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life says God is good, forgiving, and nonjudgmental. The TOL also produces freedom, grace, and eternal life. As leaders for the Kingdom, this is what we are called to be. When people come to us seeking answers or counsel, we’re to be gentle in nature – representing this image of God. If we are indeed created in the image of God, what parts of your picture are the most vibrant? Which areas need some more color?
Personally, gentleness is an area that I feel like I could always use some more vibrancy in. The TKGE is a scary place to be in, this tree produces death, law, bondage, judgment, and condemnation. When we live in this tree, we are overcome with shame and guilt and God is distant and judging us. Because of the weight we carry from the TKGE, we often times put it off on others. Blaming others for our problems, or tearing them down because of our own insecurites – in leadership this blocks the flow of trust, of building one another up. If we lead in this tree, we risk our brokenness spilling over into the spirits of others, and producing hurt and scars in their hearts.
But this isn’t the way God calls us to lead, we’re called to love each other as Jesus loves us, to call out the potential in one other, to speak things that aren’t, as though they are, so that they will be!
We’ve got to choose every day to be the tree of life, the wellspring that waters down the flames, the gentle word that turns away wrath. -Arrianna
Your Turn: Which tree are you leading from? Will you choose to live in the tree of life? Have you found yourself stuck in the tree of knowledge of good and evil? -BOP