“I find that I am in tears a lot,” a church leader said. “It seems so stupid; I don’t want to appear weak.”

This season has been hugely challenging. For church leaders, the demands have been constant and complex, leaving many feeling useless and wracked with both frustration and exhaustion. 

I want to let you know that it’s okay to cry. Your tears are not a sign of weakness; they can be a sign of passion, care and commitment.

We follow someone who wept. Jesus wept as grief gripped a family in their desperate sense of sorrow and loss (John 11:35). In the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, Jesus is deeply moved by the pain and sorrow around Him. With Mary kneeling at Jesus’s feet, tears falling, He is deeply moved and troubled. He enters the sorrow and pain before Him, and He weeps. The Son of God sheds tears at the pain of others. 

This was not weakness; this was compassion and empathy incarnate. This was God moved by the pain of His creation. It was the outward expression of Jesus’ inward broken heart.

To follow Jesus is sometimes to feel His compassion for others. It is to be moved by the pain and sorrow of the world. It is to recognise that words are not enough and to simply allow ourself to be moved and weep with others. We cannot stay close to Jesus and not have our hearts bruised by the ravages of sin and sorrow all around us.

These are the tears that bind, tears that bring us closer to others as they see us with them in their pain. 

Sometimes tears are a sign of our need to talk to someone and even get help. However, there are times when our tears reveal that our heart has been softened by the situations that are all around us. Either way, we should not hide or feel in some way diminished by our tears. They don’t point to weakness but woundedness, sometimes for us and more often for others.

So, remember…

Tears don’t separate you from other people. Your tears can be the thing that binds you to the weak and weary, those who are tired of platitudes and are weighed down by the experience of life. To accept that you are weak and wounded binds you to the weeping of the world in a Spirit-led way.

You should never be ashamed of your tears. Jesus wasn’t ashamed of His; they demonstrated His love towards humanity.

Tears are part of the journey of leadership: they marked the life of David and other psalmists, while Jeremiah told of his eyes being fountains of tears and Paul implored the Philippians, again with tears”.

Scripture says…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him?’ He asked. Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.” (John 11:33 – 35)

Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.” (Jeremiah 9:1)

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18)

Can you get to a place today where you can thank God for some of your tears, a place where you recognise that we connect with Him in a different way when we meet with Him in our weeping?

Can we see our tears not as something to be avoided but embraced as they mark us as tender-hearted and more Christlike?

Read more of the series:

Wounded leadership: four-part editorial series

Wounded leadership: four-part editorial series

Take some time out to ponder and refocus with these short reflections on leading from a place of weakness Read more
Wounded leadership series: Rest

Wounded leadership series: Rest

It's tempting to pretend to have it all together, but when Jesus called us to follow Him, He knew that sometimes we would be staggering instead of skipping