A back-to-school leadership devotional
By Scott Hagan, M.A., North Central University President
One great test of life is relationships. Good leaders know how to build relationships. Great leaders know how to restore them.
Not every relationship soars with uninhibited freedom; most friendships experience turbulence. When an immature leader experiences a relational setback, he or she may tend to cut losses and move on. But the growing leader says, “Not so fast.”
Abandoning “speed” and trusting in the process of a “seed” can help. It’s liberating to realize that the science of human community is more like agriculture than technology—that it takes about the same amount of time to grow an apple today as it did in the days of Jesus. Young leaders need to pace themselves; not simply to avoid burnout, but because they’ve come to understand that substance and wisdom grow like tree bark.
No one can go deep in a day.
Great leaders think twice before severing a valued relationship. They recognize that losing such bonds also means losing a piece of themselves. For those pursuing a life of forgiveness and restoration, here are three things to remember during this year at North Central about the nature of conflict and restoration.
1. The enemy wants to turn temporary pain into permanent pain.
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, faced a series of losses that would have reduced any normal person to a pile of dust and despair. After losing her husband and two adult sons, she concluded that God was against her. Naomi could have spent the rest of her life in deficit and sorrow.
If not for the intervention of Ruth, negative labels would have kept Naomi bound. She was so convinced that God was against her that she changed her name to Marah, a name that meant “bitterness.” The enemy of your soul wants the wound or the wedge to become a permanent part of your being. Satan knows exactly how to leverage bitterness and alter your legacy—but you can resist. Pain is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.
2. The measure of your maturity is not your inability to offend, but your inability to be offended.
We live in a diseased world of disrespect and offense. It seems as if no one has the resiliency to overlook a wrongdoing. Everything is personal. Everything warrants a response. It’s impossible to live in freedom when you’re easily slighted. Jesus predicted that some people would hate us (Matthew 10:22).
But Jesus also engineered His church to withstand mockery, rejection, beatings, false imprisonment, and martyrdom. A college community happens in a tight space where the flaws and moods of everyone collide and mix. There are million ways to be offended in a college setting. It’s also a fantastic setting to practice resiliency.
3. You have to cleanse the wound before you close the wound.
The Good Samaritan poured both oil and wine into the wounds of the Jewish man he found beaten along the roadside. This kind of cross-racial compassion was unheard of in Jesus’ day.
The oil soothed, but the wine must have felt like a thousand bee stings. Why did the good Samaritan choose to confront death with pain? The wine was necessary to kill the bacteria. The same holds true for emotional trauma. God pours both truth and love in our wounded hearts.
Along with the oil of God’s love that comforts, we feel the stinging sensation of God’s truth killing Satan’s bacteria in our hearts. Truth and comfort go hand in hand. Love closes the wound. Forgiveness cleanses the wound. The Lord has opened up a huge wonderful door for all of us at North Central University here in downtown Minneapolis. Here we go. When it comes to having a successful year, let’s keep the plan simple.
Think seed, not speed.
About Scott Hagan
Scott Hagan, M.A., became North Central University’s seventh president on June 1, 2017. He is excited to spend his “freshman year” as president with future leaders in the marketplace, ministry, and missions who make up the Class of 2021. Learn more about President Hagan.