Many things impressed me about the Chinese and Korean cultures when I traveled there in October but the most impressive was age. In the US we can travel to the earliest settlements and find a few that began in the 1600’s. Without effort I visited landmarks dating to the 1300 and 1400’s while in Asia. An amazing Tale of Two Leaders emerged as I walked through ancient Asian history.
First there was a culture where the emperor was seen as a God. The people went to great lengths and exorbitant expense to meet his every need. The emperor desired to have a summer get away. The people went to work and developed an amazing complex on hundreds of acres of land. No expense was spared. The longest covered walkway in the world was built with impressive paintings on each beam. The emperor’s wife decided she wanted to be able to have the feeling of shopping in a normal market place. So the people built an entire market place where the stores could be staffed with products and storeowners. While people were starving in the countryside a boat was built out of stone and marble that would never be able to float. The emperor’s wife wanted it so questions were not asked.
Contrast this tale from history with that of another land. Here a summer palace was also built with pavilions and beautiful gardens where people could relax and enjoy nature. At one section of the garden the tour came to a place where the emperor would grow rice every year. The king would do the planting, weeding and all the care of his small rice field. The king didn’t need to do this. He had all the rice and riches he could have ever wanted. His reason for growing the rice field and caring for it himself was because of his people. This culture was mostly agrarian meaning most people survived through farming. The emperor grew rice because he wanted to know what his people were experiencing. If his rice wasn’t growing in his garden then the people of his empire were hurting.
Effective leaders understand the needs of the people they serve. As youth workers, pastors, parents, and volunteer ministry leaders do you truly recognize the needs of those around you? Consider the time Jesus invested with his disciples and how He challenged them by understanding their world. He did this when he encouraged them to cast their net on the other side of the boat, when he challenged them to feed a crowd of at least five thousand, and when he told them to go forth two by two. Jesus never detached Himself from the needs of the people He served.
Let’s learn from the tale of two leaders and more importantly from the life of Jesus Christ. If you are a youth reaching out to other youth, understand their needs. If you are an adult reaching other adults or reaching youth, understand their world. Let’s invest ourselves in understanding the people God has given us to serve, and for God’s glory, may we impact their lives.