Who is asking the obvious question: “What’s your model for a leader? How do you evaluate one’s leadership?” For the most part I would say that pragmatism is the order of the day, and of course it’s important to measure results. Fortunately, as it turns out, character figures prominently in producing measurable success.
This is no surprise to us who follow Jesus that servant-leadership and even humility are widely recognized as valuable leadership qualities even in industry. Why? Character works, pure and simple, and it has been demonstrated in our pragmatic world. So if Jesus is our model Leader, where should we start?
Let’s listen in on His words: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). So where do we start? We start with Love.
To love those God has placed in our lives means to notice them, to care about them, to see how we might contribute to their welfare. More than ever in my life, I pray for His ability to love those He has called me to serve, and as it turns out, loving people is very satisfying.
Leadership begins with Love.
Leadership is often about taking initiative, being responsible, and staying focused on the goal. We probably all agree with this whether we are leading a church, a business, or a drug cartel.
My point: I don’t think most leadership books zero in on motives. Why are you doing what you do? The “what’s” and the “how’s” are definitely addressed…but not so much the “why’s.” The why of Jesus’ leadership was love. He loved His Father, and He loved the people God gave Him.
Luke describes Jesus’ leadership as, “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil…” (Acts 10:38). That was His motivation.
Regardless of our profession (teacher, CPA, electrician, salesman) our why could be the same as Jesus’: love. What if we felt God’s love for our clients, students, and employees? Certainly we have tasks that must be performed; but the desire to do good and set people free is the motive that partners us with God.
My conclusion: When we receive God’s love for those He has put in our lives, the leadership potential within is released. The “what’s” and the “how’s” help us be more effective, but I think we need to explore more about our “why’s.”
Realign your motivations with the heart of God.
Let’s look at our own leadership and ask a question: Why is success in my current leadership role important to me?
I can think of many possible answers: (1) My identity is wrapped up with succeeding in this project. (2) My reputation and thus my future career opportunities depend upon success in this role. (3) I feel it’s only responsible to produce well after all that’s been entrusted to me. (4) I have an inner drive to achieve excellence in all that I undertake. (5) It’s important that I be faithful with whatever task I have been given. (6) A lot of people depend upon me.
And, of course, there is the highest spiritual component: we are God’s servants, and we sincerely want to glorify God.
We would probably all agree that our motivations are a mixture. I have long pondered over Jesus’ admonition “blessed are the pure in heart, for….” There is always the “why?” Why would we want to pursue God’s blessings?
Father frequently digs down into our hearts and gently realigns us with His heart. This is always good because He loves us. Freedom tastes good.
We have all heard ourselves say, “If I know my own heart….” But it’s tricky to know our own heart. Which makes it particularly powerful to be moved by the Father’s love into agreement with His heart. That’s where the life is.
Next, watch my message on how love fuels all!