As the song goes, "Love makes the world go 'round." But does it? Really? You wouldn't know that from reading and hearing the news headlines.
Then the question is, if love were to make the world go around, what kind of love is it? Is it romantic love like the song, "The Power of Love"? I think it would need to be something more substantial than that to keep the world turning on its axis.
Who comes to mind when you think of a more substantial love? Maybe Mother Teresa? Perhaps St Francis of Assisi, as reflected in his prayer?
But who was their role model? Jesus, of course. He is the personification of love, literally (John 1:1, 14; 3:16; 1 John 4:8).
Love, feed, lead
Last week, I talked about grassroots leadership as an illustration of the style of leadership we see in Jesus.
I also spoke of three words that summarize the role of a pastor, but which also apply to truly great leadership at all levels.
Those three words are—love, feed, and lead. I want to focus on love in this post, and I want to use the four letters of this word as an acrostic.
A lot's been said about this short, four-lettered word, but I want to look at each letter as it represents the leadership of Jesus.
This applies especially for pastors and others in a leadership role within the church, but I also see it as representative for believers who are leaders in other arenas in life.
What are those other arenas? Anything from business (small or large) to military leaders, and even less formal roles within life, even parenting.
I originally saw the words love, feed, and lead based in John 10:1-18, where Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd.
Jesus expresses what He means by being the Good Shepherd in verse 11—
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Of course, most believers think Jesus refers to His sacrificial death on the cross. But there's more to it than that.
The most basic call of discipleship, in Matthew 16:24, makes it clear that we are to die to our self if we would follow Jesus.
Jesus extends this idea to leadership when He tells the disciples—
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)
"L" stands for love. Love is the mark of a great leader in God's kingdom—someone who is willing to lay down their life for another, and for Jesus.
[bctt tweet="Love is the mark of a great leader in God's kingdom"]
The love of God is spelled out for us in the well-known text of 1 Corinthians 13. It's also the natural product of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23).
It's also seen in the way Jesus called, led, and trained His followers. It wasn't by compelling them, but with humble leadership.
The apostle Peter learned this the hard way when Jesus restored him, after Peter had denied the Lord three times. We see this in John 21:15-19.
Peter passed this on to those he discipled as leaders. He exhorted them to "shepherd the flock of God..., not domineering over [them]..., but being examples to the flock." This is found in 1 Peter 5:1-5.
So the "O" stands for oversee. Godly leaders are not to be overbearing or domineering as lords, but caring for people as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, did.
[bctt tweet="Godly leaders are not to be overbearing or domineering as lords"]
When a godly leader understands their power or authority is based in an unselfish love and oversight like that of Jesus, they value people.
Over the years, many churches have undervalued people, especially their volunteers and part-time staff. They undervalue them by taking them for granted.
Too often I've heard of people who get burned out serving in a church or ministry, and are left hanging in the wind, as others take their place. This should not be. Nor should this need to be explained.
We need to see people the way Jesus saw them, as sheep who need a shepherd (Matt 9:36). This is the heart of Jesus, hear what He says—
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
"V" is for value. Any smart leader at any level, but especially godly ones, will value people, especially those who volunteer their services.
[bctt tweet="Many churches have undervalued people by taking them for granted"]
One of the simple ways to value people is by empowering and enabling them to do what they are to do. Many in roles of leadership think they need to keep people under control, but this is not how we see Jesus leading people.
This brings us back to the earlier nature of the love we are to have as we lead people, a love that lays itself down for others.
Do we want others who serve under our leadership to succeed? Do we want them to do well? Then we need to find ways to empower and enable them to do so.
This is to be a basic role of all leadership in the church, and it makes sense for any role of leadership. The apostle Paul tells us that God gave gifts so the leaders could empower and enable those they lead.
This is what we're told in Ephesians 4:11-13, and the result is enormous and beneficial to all, including God. As it says in verse 11—
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
"E" reminds us that good, godly leaders empower and enable people.
[bctt tweet="A simple way to value people is by empowering and enabling them to do things well"]
L-O-V-E—love that is unselfish, overseeing not overbearing, valuing people, and empowering and enabling them. That's how I spell love every godly leader needs to lead others. Just as Jesus did.
Next week I'll take a look at the word "feed" as I see it in relation to leading people.
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