A radio interviewer said, “I know you teach leadership, but you talk a lot about love. What’s love got to do with it?” My answer was simple. “Everything.” Love, as a core value, has everything to do with everything. We continued for the next hour talking about leaders who have chosen love as their core value and the difference they make in the lives of their followers.
It seems there are two challenges as we unfold the connection between love and leadership. One challenge is the word “love,” which has been minimized, abused and misused. The love I am talking about brings words into our lives we could have never fully understood before – words like trust, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness, commitment, accountability and service. I am convinced when people choose love as a core value, they are a different leader, spouse, parent, friend, neighbor and more. Love changes us. It is the greatest change agent of all time.
When we look at Jesus, our leadership model, we see that He experienced great love from His Father while He was on earth. In Mark 1:11, when God’s Spirit descended like a dove, along with the Spirit, a voice said: “’You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life’” (The Message). Jesus knew the Father loved Him; He knew whose He was and who He was. Jesus received the Father’s love, and He lived His life on earth through it. We are to do the same.
The second challenge is that the word “leader” is often misunderstood. I recently heard from a seminary president that many of their younger students do not want to study leadership or even be identified as a leader. Their experiences with “leaders” have tainted their view of what leaders look like and do; they want no part of it.
At Lead Like Jesus, we believe leadership happens any time you influence the thinking, behavior or development of another person. Leadership is about influence, and it happens in every area of our lives - in our homes, organizations, churches and communities.
How would our leadership change if, like Jesus, we received God’s love and adopted that love as our core value?
I believe accepting and abiding in God’s love and choosing love as our core value does at least four things in our lives:
- 1. We know whose we are.
Our self-worth is no longer up for grabs; our security and self-worth come from Him, not from our performance or from the opinion of others. The pride that could come from accomplishment is diminished as we recognize that everything we have - every gift, every talent, every experience does not come from us, but passes through us as a gift from God. We realize that it isn’t about us. The security and confidence of knowing whose we are allows us to become fully what God has called us to be in our leadership and in our life.
- 2. We become fearless.
“There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). When we receive God’s love, we are no longer held captive by trying to please everyone. We only have one audience. We are willing to listen to feedback. Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions!” Fearful leaders are dangerous leaders; they are always protecting themselves instead of protecting their mission and their teams. Fearful leaders are most afraid when they feel their leadership might be rejected or compared to others. When we accept the gift of God’s unconditional love, the fear goes away and allows us to lead with confidence in the One who loves us most.
- 3. We can offer that same love to others.
Scripture tells us in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The new command was to love as Jesus did; He loved sacrificially and unconditionally. We can’t give this kind of love to anyone if we have not received it ourselves. The only way you can love unconditionally is through Jesus. Those whom we influence need our love–a love that is strong enough to see mistakes as opportunities to learn, a love that gives grace and yet upholds the accountability to help others reach their highest potential in all God has planned for their lives.
- 4. We have a new perspective.
Life has many challenges and losses. Knowing we are secure in God’s love allows us to view every situation through a different lens and gives us a new perspective. Our perspective is the frame in which we view life; receiving and abiding in God’s love allows us to have an eternal perspective. As a leader, focusing on the long view instead of seeing the crisis of the moment is critical for those we lead.
"When we receive God’s love, we are no longer held captive by trying to please everyone. We only have one audience. Him.” Phyllis Hendry
I am convinced that we find in I Corinthians 13:4-8a, a description of the love we are intended to be. In the passage below, insert your name every time you see the word love and see if the words describe you.
"Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
We can choose love as our core value, and when we do, we have the opportunity to build incredible relationships and have results beyond what we have imagined. In addition, we have the blessing of having an eternal impact on the lives of those we lead and introducing them to the One who loves them most. I continue to believe it is only by love that love is awakened, and it is the calling of a lifetime for every leader. Are there relationships in your life where you need to ask the question, “What is the most loving thing to do?” How will you respond? Father, thank you for loving us. Help us to love others like You do–without condition and sacrificially.
Phyllis Hennecy Hendry serves as the inaugural President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus. Under her capable leadership, Lead Like Jesus has had a global impact. Phyllis has traveled across the United States and various parts of the world to speak and teach the message of Lead Like Jesus. She is a dynamic communicator who gets to the heart of her audiences with messages that come straight from hers. Her messages of truth are clear, personal, filled with stories, and life-changing. She often serves as a keynote and plenary speaker and delights in each opportunity to share the impact of the Lead Like Jesus message in the home, church, and marketplace.
For More Information about Lead Like Jesus or to bring Phyllis Hendry to your organization as a speaker, visit www.LeadLikeJesus.com or call 800.383.6890.