The Starving Baker

by Anne Marie Owens

“You have to feed yourself before you can lead yourself.” –Tim Elmore

I was recently given the opportunity to help out with a leadership course at Pillow Academy. This opportunity arrived in the last hour and right on time. It was a vivid reminder that only God knows and that only God ordains the plans He has for us. Seeing as this school year is looking a whole lot different than I envisioned it, I was reminded of the mantra Elizabeth Hickley would often chant to herself around the house, “I am not God.”  Amen? Amen.

The curriculum I was given for this course is called, Habitudes. The word Habitudes can’t be found in Webster’s dictionary; however, I think it could be a useful word to incorporate into our daily repertoire. The word “Habitudes” comes from a combination of the words “attitude” and “habit”.  While the attitudes of our heart and our (seemingly) small daily habits are often invisible to others, it is those very two things that have the power to determine the course of our lives, much more so than good grades, good athletic ability, or good looks.

In week one of our class, we camped out on the truth that what other people see about us, aka “the outside”, in reality comprises very little of what makes a good leader. But rather, the most important aspect of strong leadership comes from “the inside”. Being the servant leader God designed you to be can only come from a Christ-centered heart and a strong character, which is the ability to be who you say you are when no one is watching.

To illustrate each leadership principle, the Habitudes curriculum utilizes memorable images. Week one’s Habitude image was of an iceberg. The tippy top of the iceberg, or in other words, the part “above the water” (e.g., grades, athletic ability, looks, personality, etc.) makes up only a small part of a person’s identity and leadership potential. The real essence of an individual and their ability to lead well resides in what lies “beneath the water,” which again, is their character and the state of their heart.

As much as I needed the truth that was illustrated through last week’s iceberg image, this upcoming week’s leadership principle hit home even harder. This week’s Habitude image is titled “the starving baker.” It is an image of two little boys holding out a large tray of rolls. It illustrates the oh so common leadership hazard of “baking bread” for everyone else, all the while never stopping to feed yourself. This is a particularly dangerous hazard for Christians and one that Jesus, Himself, warns about in the Gospels. Quite honestly, it is a snare that I have fallen into many times. I can be so busy anxiously “baking” all the while forgetting that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Fortunately, the Lord is gracious. He is slow to anger and His Word even tells us that He “practices steadfast love.” He will not let His children starve. He will use whatever it takes to get our attention and to bring us back to the table. Our heavenly Father, the “Hound of Heaven,” will chase us down when we are entering the hazardous territory of self-sufficiency.

As of recent, His “chasing” after me has been via my (higher than the average bear:) ) anxiety levels, which have (loudly) been informing me, that I am “not okay.” And while this feels super uncomfortable, I know that this message is both necessary and good.  I know this, because in my experience, it is only through my felt inadequacies and the discomfort of my complete and utter neediness that I am willing to listen. His message as of late is loud and clear: AM, it is YOUR soul that needs to eat. YOU need to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” YOU need to know that the Lord is YOUR Shepherd and that in Him YOU have no lack. It is not enough to tell Jude and Sophie that I am with them. YOU need to know that I am with YOU.

This week as I talk to my sixth graders about “the starving baker”, I too will be taking time to stop “baking” and to eat. I will be savoring that alone which satisfies the weary soul, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. And wonder of wonders, through the Gospel, He invites you to do the same. Grace and peace to you.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1


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