Leaders have to develop a toughness that is also tender, and it’s not always an easy line to tread. It is certainly a narrow one. How can you be firm when and where you need to be without at the same time becoming cruel and harsh? As we saw yesterday, and see again today, Paul was in turmoil over a severe letter he’d had to send to the church at Corinth. At the same time he was tough enough to write it and courageous enough to put it in the post. He was strong enough to say and do things that might hurt (although it was not his intention to hurt them) in order to see a God-honouring result. The ”Godly sorrow” his letter had caused them had led to ”repentance”. So all was well.
”I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him…Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God?” The Message.
‘Trust in God and do the right.’ There are times when a leader has to say to himself or herself, ‘Whatever anyone else is doing, I’m going to do the right thing in this set of circumstances.’ It may not be popular. It may not win you a lot of friends. But if you see people straying from God and His ways, and you try to bring them back to the fold, you can live with your conscience and sleep at night. Hopefully, as here, the outcome will be good. But whatever, you will always know that you showed the courage of your convictions.
A person’s response to confrontation and correction reveals a lot about their heart. Paul believed he knew what the Corinthians were really like at heart, and he had ”boasted” to Titus about them. They had not let him down (14). The seed sown by Paul had fallen into good soil (which was essentially his conviction about their hearts) and produced good fruit. How lovely it is when you meet people who ‘refresh’ you (13). I guess we all know what that feels like.
Maybe you are facing a difficult situation today. You have to say or do (perhaps both) something that is really tough. May God give you the courage to do the right thing, being willing to stand alone if necessary; and the courage to leave the outcome with Him.
Prayer: Lord, let me not be lacking in the courage department when backbone is what is required.