Leading In The Midst Of Loss

Jon Burgess


“The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines...Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭19:4-5, 7‬


King David had just lost his son in a tragic way. They were never able to reconcile. His son had betrayed him. There was no closure for healing. David's heart was broken. His troops had just secured a major victory over their enemies, but David was not thanking, celebrating or honoring what had been accomplished. He was a wounded warrior who was now wounding his warriors by not acknowledging their victory. Though Joab was a vicious man in many ways, his advice at this juncture is sound. David had a small window of opportunity to make this right. He had to show his face to his army. David had to move past every single emotion and natural inclination and choose to lead in the midst of loss. Jesus faced a similar challenge when he heard the tragic news of his cousin's beheading by King Herod. "When he heard what had happened (to John The Baptist), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." (Matthew 14:13-14). Jesus would then go on to perform one of his most famous miracles in the feeding of the five thousand that evening.


Leading in the midst of loss is something every one of us faces because life and ministry doesn't happen in a vacuum. The world doesn't stop turning when our world comes crashing down around us. Whether it be the loss of a loved one through death or the loss of a relationship through division or disagreement we must keep leading even while walking through the valley. Are we not allowed to mourn? Are we just supposed to stuff it down and pretend like everything is all right? Of course not! David would have to process his grief over the loss of his son, just not at the expense of his troops. Jesus would have to find a time alone with The Father to pour out his heart of sorrow over the loss of his cousin, but not at the expense of the ministry opportunity in front of Him in that moment. Personal loss is one of the greatest tests of the maturity of a leader. Our loss doesn't provide an excuse to bail out on our obligations or responsibilities. In fact, the way we lead through loss provides an amazing example to those who are on our team. If we simply stopped what we were doing every time we experienced loss or hardship there will never be consistent leadership. How many times have I had to lean deeply on the promise that where I'm weak my God is strong? Over and over again. To preach a message, lead in worship, counsel a couple when my own heart was broken in two was the exact opposite of what I felt like doing. I have found though that, like Jesus with the crowds, some of my best ministry has flowed from the times when I am most broken. Now, to keep moving forward without taking time away would be unwise. Leading through loss really is all about proper timing. The crucible of pain refines our character and drives us into ever greater dependence upon God and those around us. And ultimately, as with King David and King Jesus, this becomes another victory for us personally and for the Kingdom of God!


Lord, You truly are my Shepherd. You lead me through the valley of the shadow of death. You lead me through loss so that I can lead others. Thank You for being my strength when I feel have none. Thank You for healing me so I can see others healed.

Devotions for May 11

2 Samuel 19,20
Psalms 55
Matthew 28

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