This month, Pastor Leeann Younger of Cityview Church shares her message of inspiration for Pittsburgh’s Northside community.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
Troubled times like this call for visionary leadership. And while we often look to and lean on our civic and other professional leaders to guide us through tough times, occasionally even those leaders find themselves without the experience or wisdom to know what to do next.
This is where we come in. By we, I mean all of us. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the need for creative community leadership increases. We can choose to be Monday morning quarterbacks with a continuously growing slate of critiques about what should have or could have been done, or we can step into the arena and look for our opportunity to lead.
There’s a great story in the Hebrew Scriptures about a warrior named Gideon tasked with leading his people out of a troubling situation. The lessons in the ancient story speak to us today. First, Gideon, who doubts his ability as a leader, is charged by a messenger from God to use the gifts he has, no matter how small he thinks those gifts are.
The word ‘leadership’ often scares people. But in our neighborhoods, leadership just means doing what we do best for the good of others. Gideon’s second charge was to tear down the statue of an idol called Baal, a symbol of his people placing their trust in the wrong thing. We don’t usually talk about tearing down idols unless we’re in a religious service, but we can talk about where we as neighbors are placing our trust. With respect to COVID-19 and the social unrest resulting from the death of George Floyd, we need to return to putting our trust in each other in order to build a Northside community that works for everyone and not just a few of us.
The finale of this story involves Gideon stepping way out of his comfort zone to ultimately lead his people out of the trouble they were in. This is our call as Northside neighbors: to step out of our comfort zones and help each other thrive. It might be shopping for a senior, or helping a family who is struggling to manage childcare and work. It might be developing a creative, physically distant way to tutor a neighborhood kid, or it might be as simple as growing flowers to share beauty with your neighbors during this stressful time. The story of Gideon invites us to share our gifts to help our neighbors, to place our trust in each other, and to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of our community.
If you follow Gideon’s path, you are likely to find yourself on an adventure that will surprise you and your neighbors. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, because these extraordinary times call for visionary leadership. It’s exactly what we all need to give and receive from each other right now.
Pastor Leeann Younger