"In Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek, her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor." Acts 9:36 NIV
Leaders are influencers who challenge others to become all they were created and destined to become.
In this biblical story, Tabitha exemplified authentic leadership and is described as a disciple -- a follower of Christ. Service is a visible sign of a leader.
Leaders come in a variety of shapes, sizes, occupations and can influence others in modeling an inner attitude that outwardly shows humility, kindness, compassion, caring, along with a lifestyle that holds integrity as a critical component when relating with others.
Leaders are parents, community members, neighbors and friends who impact you on a level that inspires you to take on that role you feared or thought you were unable to do. Leaders are not afraid of new tasks, new opportunities and new challenges nor do they feel threatened when around others who have a higher authority.
One of the main attributes of a leader and one that is described in this story of Tabitha is they are natural helpers. And Tabitha helped the poor, those who are invisible to many and those who become discounted and dismissed by a world that busily pursues success in wanting to be noticed.
Service may not be one of the components taught in leadership training or even mentioned as an attribute that influences and inspires others. Service is an important trait and Tabitha served individually to widowed women who were left with nothing in a patriarchal society where women did not have any rights and this depicts she inhabited a servant-heart.
She served women who had nothing to give her in return of any monetary or possessional value, yet she generously gave of her own caring making clothes to help these widows who had no means of their own to provide for themselves.
Tabitha did not set up a business to profit from her creative ability to make clothes and to give from her servant-heart to help women in their poverty and need. She used her gift and her talent to serve in meeting the needs of others.
When we serve from the heart of God within us, expecting nothing in return, not looking for approval or acceptance or praises from others, but seeing the opportunities before us, we are honoring, respecting, valuing and showing forth the character of love in reaching into another life to make a difference.
We, the sons and daughters of God, have inherited a kingdom whereby our faith is displayed in real-life situations and conditions where we are called to serve.
It is written in scriptures: "I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:35-40 NIV
Service is not something you learn in a textbook, it is lived out in taking action and living from the heart of God within us whose Spirit compels us towards helping others.