I recently read a good book titled Love Works by Joel Manby. It made me consider that love and leadership are not often spoken of together. Perhaps love is considered too soft. Maybe it doesn’t seem practical. It could be that it’s assumed, but to assume love is dangerous. The truth is that love is at the very core of what we believe and what we do.
We all know what it’s like to love something. I’m a guitar collector and I love guitars. Kevin Myers, senior pastor at 12Stone® Church, loves motorcycles. How about you, what simple earthly thing do you love? One sure way to know what you love is that you talk about it! You get me started on guitars or Kevin started on motorcycles and we’re off and running!
To love someone is something entirely different. Think back about the first time you fell in love. When you give your heart to another human being with that sense of vulnerable abandon it is quite a risk. The good news is that there is often a wonderful reward – you are loved in return. If you have kids you know another dimension of this powerful force we call love. There is nothing your kids can do to stop you from loving them.
The trump card to all of this is to be loved by God. Human love, as amazing as it is, is flawed and we often stumble in our attempts to love others. God’s love is powerful, pure and perfect. It never fails. The love of God is incomprehensible. We can’t fully understand the depths of His love. There is no end to it. It is infinite in nature. It’s a love that surpasses all knowledge. (Ephesians 3:19)
The Apostle Paul prays that [we] have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and long, and high, and deep is the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:18) The love of God is incomparable. “The incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)
A perfect love can’t be measured, or fully understood, but it can be experienced. And that is the love we are called to live out through our leadership. Leading with this kind of love seems impossible, in fact, without Christ it is impossible. But we do have His love! “But because of his great love for us . . . “(Ephesians 2:4) And remember Ephesians 3:17 “. . being rooted and established in love,”
This is our high calling and purpose! I’ve attempted to write our big picture purpose as Christian leaders through a concise biblical statement. See what you think.
Our salvation (Eph 2:5,8), and the work that we have been divinely prepared for (Eph 2:10), was established in love (Eph 2:4; 3:17), according to His eternal purpose (Eph 3:11). And now, through the church (Eph 3:10), and with his power (Eph 3:20), we are called to know this love, (Eph. 3:19) and lead with this love, to fulfill His purpose.
So how do we take this amazing love of God and His purpose into our leadership? We start by acknowledging the difference between the world’s leadership and Godly leadership.
The world’s leadership is built on the platform of power. Whoever gets more wins. Godly leadership is built on the platform of love. Whoever gives more wins.
Leaders deal in the realm of power. It’s inescapable. It’s what you do with it that matters. Jesus took it to the next level when He declared that love is the greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-19) Then Jesus put (supernatural) power in love by dying on a cross.
Love and Purpose in your Leadership:
For the power of God’s love to be activated through your leadership, you must be on His purpose.
Nearly every church I know has a purpose statement. Some may call it a mission statement or a vision statement, but regardless of how it’s labeled, church leaders rarely struggle with coming up with the words. They struggle with living them out. They struggle with staying on purpose.
The pressures and demands of ministry can and do distract us from our purpose and can diminish the power of God in and through our leadership.
So let’s take a look at four things that take us off purpose, with some practical thoughts to help us all stay on track.
There are many facets to pride and that makes it difficult to describe. It’s too simplistic to call it an over inflated ego or superior sense of importance. But it is easy to see, especially when you make it mad. When pride is awakened, usually because it’s challenged, it makes itself known.
When pride kicks into gear a leader can become dangerous if it is not quickly subdued. It’s difficult to put your arms around the idea of pride, the source of pride and what feeds it, so I often focus on its mirror opposite – humility.
Humility is much easier to grasp and humility conquers pride. Here are a few practical helps to conquer pride as a leader.
- Embrace humility in order to lead with love.
- Thank God daily for your gifts and opportunities.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Think of yourself as God does, nothing more, nothing less.
For local church leaders, I think insecurity is the most common thing that derails us from staying on purpose and leading with love. It’s a good thing to be able to love people from a broken place, we’re all broken – just in different degrees. But if you need people more than you lead them you will end up off course. No one wants to follow an insecure leader.
Insecurity manifests itself in things like a lack of confidence, lack of assurance, self-doubt and poor self-image. Insecurity then manifests itself through behaviors such as people pleasing, protecting one’s turf, and manufacturing an image that is not the real you. We get hung up in the size of our church, our title and what we do and don’t get picked for.
Personal insecurity takes so much energy to manage, you don’t have time enough to invest in others – let alone actually lead others.
Here are some practical insights to help you conquer insecurity and stay on purpose.
- Get comfortable with who you are, and who you are not.
- Trust those who lead you, and lead with you.
- Lead from deeply felt personal conviction and values.
- Trust your instincts. You are better than you think when you are freed up.
- Lead from your heart.
Jealousy and insecurity are close cousins. The difference is that insecurity starts on the inside and goes outward, and jealously starts with something on the outside and works its way in.
Jealousy is the feeling of resentment because of something someone has that you don’t, and you feel that you should. It may be as objective as money or as subjective as success. It doesn’t matter, someone has it and you don’t. That’s what sets jealousy off. You can’t lead well when you are jealous of others. And you definitely can’t lead with love if you possess a jealous spirit.
If you view life this way, focusing on what others have that you don’t, you’ll never be happy. Someone will always have more than you, something better than you, bigger than you etc. Life isn’t fair. Leadership isn’t fair. And remember, somebody thinks you have more than they do! Jealousy is so futile.
Here are some action steps to help you battle jealousy.
- Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have.
- Don’t behave as if you are entitled, you’re not.
- Practice a spirit of generosity – the great antidote to jealously.
Fear is a mixed bag. Some fear is good. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true wisdom. To fear that you might be leading on your own effort, power and purpose is a healthy fear. It’s not something to dwell upon or get stuck in, but nonetheless be mindful of.
Most fears, however, are irrational. We fear things like a difficult confrontation when the truth is that most confrontations, when done in love, go much better than was anticipated. Leaders sometimes resist teaching on touchy topics like tithing for fear of offending people. The truth is that helping people trust God through tithing is one of the major things that can set people free to truly follow God and experience the life they’ve always wanted.
Fear prevents risk, trying new ideas, making new friends, saying what needs to be said and the list goes on. God wants you to lead without fear! Here are four things that will be helpful to you.
- Ask for help. Don’t try to go it alone.
- Take action, it’s the best antidote to fear.
- Take small steps, do something today.
- Pray your way back to being on purpose and leading with love.
My prayer is that you have found insight and encouragement from this article so you may stay on purpose and lead with love.