To be included is one of the greatest gifts of relationships. Especially when it comes from authority. The words and action of authority have double impact on our lives–to bless or to curse.
Perhaps some in the believers in Philippi were feeling “left out” of Paul’s attention and care. It would seem that way as Paul wants to leave no doubt included in his love. Look how he opens this letter:
“To all the saints in Christ Jesus” 1:1
“In all my prayers for all of you” 1:4
“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you” 1:7
“all of you share in God’s grace with me” (1:7)
“God can testify how I long for all of you” (1:8)
I call it the “all” of Paul. It didn’t matter that some were more mature than others, that some were fighting with others, or that some had problems, Paul cared for them all.
This is actually important. When we are facing the pressures of leadership, it is easy to gravitate towards those that are “easy to work with” and of whom we have a natural rapport. It’s easy to give grace and be more kind to those ones, whereas the difficult people we tend to have less patience with. But in doing so we might inadvertently be sending a message that we care less for them. And that might even be the case.
But mature leadership makes sure that others feel the gift of acceptance. We all have known what it’s like to be on the opposite end of that spectrum.