Gideon was a vulnerable leader. He was weak; he was a nobody from the smallest tribe; he was scared; he was hiding; he was a failure; and his faith needed four miraculous signs, including the live appearance of an angel of the Lord, to give him the courage to trust God and go forward into what appeared to be an impossible situation. God practically led him by the hand.
At that point, Gideon doesn’t turn around and chide his warriors for being too afraid, or for not having enough confidence to go into battle. He understands. He tells them his own story, and strengthens their faith with the strength God gave him. This is how God uses us, and everything about us. He doesn’t waste anything — even our weaknesses and mistakes become touch points to connect with others.
I recently became the grateful recipient of this kind of understanding. After failing to keep a promise in a business relationship, I had no choice but to admit my mistake and put myself at this person’s mercy. His response, though he could have thrown the book at me, was to extend that mercy, and he did so by recognizing his own bent towards similar weaknesses. “We all have different levels of ‘cognitive disorder,’ at least I do,” he wrote. “By God’s grace we’ll move forward for His Glory.” A huge weight was lifted by his decision to respond from a place of his own need, and I believe something very good for the Kingdom of God will result.
We lead from our need. Everyone is a leader in this way in that we extend a hand to others because of the one extended by the Lord to us. This is grace turned outward. We hand out what we have received through our own shortcomings. There are certain things I can identify in someone else’s character because of a weakness in my own. How unfair and destructive it is to turn around and judge someone else for the very thing I failed in. That’s the height of hypocrisy. When we come to the cross, we come together. We are cleansed together, and forgiven together. Certainly, then, we will forgive, because we know how much we need to be forgiven.
You can’t bring a cup of cold water to someone
If you’ve never thirsted
You can’t heal a heart if your heart’s
Never been broken
You can’t forgive a sin that you’ve never done
Or you never thought you could do
Put that bandage away
It’s too small to cover the wound
– by John Fischer from the song, “Cup of Cold Water”