“Real men don’t cry” or do they? I’m not sure who keeps perpetuating this myth. Emotional health involves expression of the full range of emotions at appropriate times and in appropriate ways.
Leaders shed tears. Jeremiah wept over the destruction of Jerusalem, in fact an entire book of Scripture is filled with his lamentations. Jesus wept at the graveside of Lazaraus and over the resistance of Jerusalem to his coming. Peter, the ‘macho’ disciple shed tears when his own inconsistency caught up with him and led him to deny his relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul writes of earthly and godly sorrow in his ink-filled letter to the Corinthian church..
As Paul pens his preserved second letter to Timothy, he opens a window into the emotional life of this younger leader. “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.” (2 Timothy 1:4)
What had filled the eyes of Timothy with tears? Probably the weight of leadership. If this was a perceived final farewell, Timothy was beginning to feel the weight of responsibility. Being the ‘intern’ or ‘associate’ means ‘the buck doesn’t stop with you.’ Your mentor has your back, you can share the load of leadership and gain valuable counsel from the seasoned ministry team members who surround you.
Paul recalls Timothy’s tears. He is not seeking to embarrass him or belittle this younger associate but help him face the reality of his responsibility. Paul may have left, but Christ hasn’t. Paul’s wisdom may not be readily available, but God’s wisdom is always available. Timothy may be hesitant, but through Christ he can be all that God wants him to be.
Paul had addressed him earlier (v.2) as ‘my dear son.’ What son is afraid to shed tears in the presence of his father? Probably one who is living in an emotionally unhealthy environment. Some of us have grown up in such homes. ‘Toughen up’ we were told, ‘stop crying,’ someone else commanded. Of course self-centredness should be corrected, but healthy emotional release should be encouraged without ridicule.
So what’s your ‘E.Q.?’ Your ’emotional quotient?’ Are you healthy? Healthy churches and leaders ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ and ‘weep with those who weep.’ Real men and women and young people and children do cry–for the right reasons.
Here’s another post I wrote some time back on leadership – A Tractor Trailer Load of Kleenex.