Becoming Less, Being More
One of the most effective leaders I know is Lori Rinkert. Lori is a woman of many talents: a trained physical therapist, businesswoman, and faithful wife and mother. Lori has for years had a fruitful ministry of speaking, writing, and mentoring women. She is particularly good at training and helping women's groups do strategic planning. For a number of years she was the women's ministry director at a church I pastored. She did wonders with that ministry, and it became as influential as any ministry we had.
When Lori approached fifty years of age, she was ready to soar and become a national figure and force. But several difficult events took place in her life. The first was an automobile accident that injured her brain stem. She suffered blackouts and periods of disorientation along with severe neck pain. She underwent successful brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center, but it took a couple of years for her to heal from the trauma and to regain her energy. Then Lori's son, who was in law enforcement, was seriously injured, and Lori and her husband, Dan, cared for him for over a year to get him back to health. During this time, Lori and Dan battled the San Diego County Planning Commission over their plans to split a lot. Because of the conflicts, they lived in a small trailer, even though Dan had a well-paying job. They were nomads for several years, until the land issue was settled. Then just about the time Dan and Lori were ready to go on with their lives, her father had a serious stroke. Lori and Dan have lived with and cared for her father, nursing him back to health. Their house is very basic. They don't have much furniture and sleep on air mattresses.
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Lori dropped by to visit the other day; we hadn't seen her in nearly four years. We sat together for hours remembering, laughing, crying, praying, and speaking of God's faithfulness. Lori didn't exhibit one hint of resentment, even though she has not been able to do public ministry for a while now. As a care-giver, she has no time. But I see spiritual greatness in her. Lori hasn't been speaking much to large crowds lately, but she has been speaking.
Her father once was a practicing Christian, but many years ago he left his family for another woman. Now that woman has abandoned him. But Lori hasn't, and because of the sacrifice of Lori and Dan, her father is now back in Christ's fold. Not long ago, her father's sister became very ill; in fact, the family was called together to say their good-byes. At the hospital, Lori's cousin, an avowed atheist, asked Lori if God was real and if prayer worked. Lori said yes and then prayed for healing for her cousin's mom. The next day the no-longer-dying woman got better. The doctors and nurses claimed they had never seen someone recover from that particular illness. Lori could hardly believe her ears as her father witnessed to his sister and as her cousin told everyone that God was real and answered prayer.
Because Lori became something different under pressure, God was able to reach these hardened hearts. Lori and Dan are a testament to how less becomes more. The entire family was helpless in the onslaught of love from Lori and Dan's incarnation of Christ. I know that Lori will once again expand her public ministry, but I don't believe she will never do greater ministry, regardless of profile, than she has done over the past two years.
Make no mistake about it: Becoming less takes a toll. It did for Lori and Dan. It did for Jesus, and it will for us. And because of that, most young leaders do not willingly choose it.
Written by Bill Hull
Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.