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Hearing God in an Odd Convergence R. Scott Rodin

Convergence of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday From the Heart of a Steward

Today represents an interesting convergence of two days.

I love Valentine’s Day. I mark the Day with gifts and words conveying my love for Linda each year. It is a warm and bright day amid a dark and dreary season. So, I was chagrined to see that Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year.

I love Ash Wednesday. It starts us on our 40-day Lenten journey of repentance, self-reflection, and somber acceptance of our sinfulness and need for grace. We leave the service marked with an ash-shaped cross on our foreheads. I envisioned the odd scene of sitting in a quiet restaurant enjoying a romantic meal with a black cross on my forehead. How do you converge romance with repentance?

Adding to the strangeness, this is my week for the steward leader blog for CLA. I wonder what Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday say about our work as steward leaders. As I’ve thought and prayed about this odd convergence, I believe there is a thread that unites all three. Here goes.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is named in honor and remembrance of St. Valentine of Terni. The emperor Aurelius had imprisoned St. Valentine in 272 AD for continuing to marry Christian soldiers despite his royal decree. Aurelius needed young men to fight his wars, and he didn’t want them distracted with marriage and family. Valentine held that it was God’s law and purpose that men and women should marry and that marriage is a sacred oath that should not be denied to anyone. In prison, the bishop cures his jailer’s daughter of blindness, and the pair falls head over heels in love (literally, ‘love at first sight’). Their desires to marry were ended when the bishop was executed on February 14 of the following year. On the eve of his death, the condemned man was reported to have sent a passionate letter to his beloved, signed ‘Your Valentine.’

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday, we bear on our foreheads the sign of the ultimate sacrifice borne from the greatest love the world has ever known. “For God so loved the world that he gaveā€¦” Into a world of sin, the Savior of the world came full of grace and truth. His love for us took him to the cross. He gave his life to give us our life. That lavish love brings us to our knees on Ash Wednesday as we consider the sin still lingering in our hearts.

Steward Leaders

Love, sacrifice, death, and remembrance. These are the themes for this week. So, what of the steward leader? The third step on the journey of the steward leader is described this way: Steward leaders see those with whom they lead and serve as fellow travelers.

They shun the temptation to use others to further their agendas. Consequently, they encourage the personal and spiritual growth of those they lead and with whom they serve.

It is no stretch to say that steward leaders must love the people they lead. How else can they place the needs and well-being of their people above their agendas? While being a leader does not mean we will suffer a martyr’s death (although we’ve all had days where we thought it might be heading that direction), we are called upon to sacrifice for our people. We build trust, create a healthy culture, instill confidence, and earn loyalty to the extent that our people know we love them and are willing to sacrifice for them. In the movie ‘White Christmas,” Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye share their reverence for their former commander, General Waverly, “We ate, and then he ate. We slept, and then he slept. Yeah, then he woke up, and nobody slept for forty-eight hours.” Waverly led by the example of self-sacrifice and a love for his soldiers, and they followed him wherever he wanted them to go (as the song says).

The Convergence

So here is the thread. Can we learn from St. Valentine that despite the world’s views or the king’s decrees, God is a God of love who calls us to be leaders who love? Can we come away from Ash Wednesday bearing the ultimate symbol of love and sacrifice and see in it our calling to love our people and sacrifice for their good? Steward leader, do you love your people as one who is loved by God? Will you sacrifice for them as one for whom Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice?


R. Scott Rodin is the Senior Consultant/Chief Strategy Officer for The Focus Group. Over the past thirty-eight years, Scott Rodin has helped hundreds of organizations improve their effectiveness in leadership, fund development, strategic planning, and board development. His books and articles have been translated into over twenty languages, and he has taught and consulted with ministries across five continents. He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education and as board chair for ChinaSource.


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