FARGO - Our 4th-grade daughter Brooke started Taekwondo in January and she has learned several self-defense patterns. She will ask me at home, at the grocery store, anywhere the two of us are together, "Dad, can I show you my new pattern?" Children love to have their mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, watch them roller-blade, play T-ball, play a video game or jump on the trampoline.
The truth is that at every age we like to be watched. When we are in a group photo who is the first person we look for? Ourselves! But to be a great leader, we have to move from "watch me" to "connect with others." And this takes great self-leadership to put our agendas aside; our fears, insecurities, needs and connect with others with no strings attached.
There is a well-known story from the life of Jesus that illustrates his commitment to connecting with others. In John Chapter 4 we read about a time that Jesus travelled through Samaria and connected with a Samaritan woman outside town at a well.
Jesus was a Jew, and Jews typically avoided going through Samaria. If they did go to Samaria they avoided Samaritans. There were religious differences, and dating back to the Old Testament there were significant hostilities between the Jews and the Samaritans.
This woman went to the well at noon, by herself. Typically women went out to the well together for safety purposes. It wasn't safe for a woman to be alone in the open country with all the men who travelled through. Typically, women went to the well at dawn and dusk. That was when water was needed and it was cooler than during the heat of the day. For some reason, probably because of the life she lived and the decisions she made, she was an outcast among her peers. She was so isolated she went by herself at the most inconvenient time of the day.
John wrote that Jesus was tired and hungry. Yet he initiated a conversation with a Samaritan woman. That's what a leader does. Leaders always go first. Leaders are committed to connecting with people. A leader is well aware of the obstacles and still goes first. Jesus didn't isolate himself from someone simply because they were different than he was or they were seen as an "undesirable" by many others. Jesus bridged religious norms, social norms (it was considered inappropriate for men to speak to women outside their social circles in public), and the isolation this gal was facing from her peers.
He held a wonderful conversation with her that was full of grace, truth, hope and direction. And her life was changed!
If you are living in isolation, loneliness and hurt today, Jesus cares. His life proved that fact over and over. He longs to connect with you and lead you into a brighter, healthier and eternal future. You will not see him physically or hear him audibly, but you can pray. You can write, speak out loud or in your mind to him. Ask him for forgiveness. Share your greatest hurts, fears and hopes. Commit to following his leadership. Keep your eyes and heart open for his presence. Just like the Samaritan woman your life might be changed forever.