This is Part 6 of of the (re)Vision talk on leadership principles from the Life of Mary.
The fifth characteristic of Mary’s that we see in Scripture is creative encouragement. Real influence is not nagging or begging or hounding or complaining. We said earlier that influence is not controlling. It comes through creative encouragement. . John 2:1-12 records Jesus’ first miracle:
The next day Jesus' mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother spoke to him about the problem. "They have no more wine," she told him. "How does that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come." But his mother told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Six stone waterpots were standing there; they were used for Jewish ceremonial purposes and held twenty to thirty gallons each. Jesus told the servants, "Fill the jars with water." When the jars had been filled to the brim, he said, "Dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies." So they followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. "Usually a host serves the best wine first," he said. "Then, when everyone is full and doesn't care, he brings out the less expensive wines. But you have kept the best until now!" This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus' first display of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
This is so cool. This was Jesus’ first miracle, and it was his mother that set him up. Weddings were important social functions in Jewish life and running out of wine would have been a tremendous embarrassment to the hosts. Mary was the person who brought the problem to Jesus’ attention. Jesus kinda brushed her off, “How does that concern you and me?...My time is not yet come...”
She didn’t give up. Just knew her place, her role, and did what only she could do. Left the rest up to him.
She confidently told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Mary must have sensed that it was Jesus’ time, and she knew how to set him up for that. She knew what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. She didn’t push. She just encouraged Jesus, ensured resources were available, and left the rest up to her Son.
Sometimes the best way to lead is to follow. To sit on the sidelines and just encourage.
As women, it might be easier for us to see problems or potential in people and to know when certain steps should be taken or when certain things should happen. And we get impatient. Those are not the moments to jump out in front of people. We should use our intuition to encourage and give life—not to crush and take control.
I’m going to be blunt and address something that goes on in our culture and especially in the church. Women—we get frustrated when we perceive that men are not stepping up to the plate—whether in leadership in the church or in asking you out on a date or whatever. If we perceive men aren’t stepping up to the plate in some way, then I want to encourage us to follow Mary’s example. Encourage the gifts we see in men. Do whatever we can to ensure that opportunities are available. And then shut up, step back, get out of the way, and let them step up to the plate as God leads them.
Leadership happens when we find creative ways to encourage those around us and give them opportunities and platforms to succeed.