Stewarding When It Is Difficult By Howard Rich
What does it look like to steward when it is difficult?
The most difficult leadership experience of my life was shepherding my mother and sisters through the death of my dad. Following my dad’s diagnosis with lung cancer, he was moved into our home where my family would care for him in his final days. Our family was able to spend several memorable days with my dad, reminiscing, joking, and loving the man who had taken such good care of us in the best way he knew.
As his final days and hours approached, my family looked to me for support and decision-making, but I was grieving too. Those final hours were the most horrendous and difficult hours of my life as I cared for my mom and sisters while watching the life disappear from my dad’s frail body. My heart was breaking, but I knew I had a great responsibility to steward those moments with my family. The leadership I offered them at that time would likely impact their memories of that night for a long time to come.
As I faced the most excruciating time of my life, I knew I had to rely on Jesus, who walked through more anguish than I could ever imagine. On the night before his trial and crucifixion, he came to terms with what it meant to empty himself and drink from the cup of agony, sorrow, and wrath.
Jesus was deeply grieved as he prayed to his father in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, and Luke 22:40-53). He told the three disciples with him,
“my soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mark 14:34).
Luke tells us Jesus was in such agony
“his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Jesus’ prayer to the Father was one of emptying himself and accepting back from the Father a tremendous responsibility. In that garden Jesus asked the Father,
“if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” but he immediately submitted to the Father by praying, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Stewardship is an ongoing cycle of recognition, relinquishing and receiving; it is a tremendous act of moment-by-moment obedience and submission that requires continual alignment with the will of the Father. This cycle can be difficult and painful at times but is necessary and rewarding.
Jesus is Lord
As I was moving through the final moments of my dad’s life and death, I had to recognize Jesus is Lord. I had to relinquish any control I had over the process, and I ultimately received the comfort Jesus offers those who follow him. My dad walked into the Lord’s presence that night because Jesus accepted the will of the Father and drank of that cup of agony, sorrow, and wrath. His blood brought forgiveness and redemption, and I am so thankful to him.
A Call To Action
Will you take some time to deeply reflect on Jesus’ submission and subsequent obedience to the Father’s will as he moved from Gethsemane to the finished work on the cross?
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