Friday, March 17, 2006

Good Leadership is Loving

The first two parts of this series touched on two attributes that guys are generally quick to claim: ethical/moral belief and courage. Though they erode in the current day, these values are still prized by many men. It strikes me, though, that there are many who think that good leadership is neatly situated in these two qualities alone. That is to say, so long as one holds true beliefs, and lives a virtuous life according to their design, and leads people, one is a good leader. In this brief blog, however, I will argue that such a view of leadership is lacking.

Before I launch into my argument, though, let me just elaborate on the above claim that many think that leadership is a rather bloodless affair. I turn once more to the world of sports to show you that many, many men out there think that leadership is a matter of knowing what best to do--the plays, the system, etc--and a matter of getting out there on the field and doing them no matter what. I am sure that many out there have suffered under such a coach, who treated men like animals and felt proud for doing so. When the wins came in, he was only validated all the more in his approach. Such men might say that leadership is simply a matter of doing whatever is necessary to accomplish what end is most preferred. I don't think I need to convince you that such thinking is bloodless, coarse, and ugly. It is so for a simple reason: it fails to comprehend that in leadership, one deals with people. People are the gum that messes up such mechanistic thinking.

It is appropriate to deal with robots or car parts in this manner. Push buttons, throw things, be emotionless, do whatever you want with the inanimate. But the animate. Not so with the animate. It must be led with care, with emotion, with love. Yes, love. We who aspire to be Christian leaders should lead in a loving spirit, and in fact see this loving spirit, not wins, as our ultimate goal. Yes, compete or work to win and succeed. It is right that you do so. But never, never compete or work with winning, not loving, as your highest goal. Swear to yourself that you will not do so. Be a leader who pushes people to do better, who disciplines his charges, who corrects and rebukes them, who challenges them, but who in all these things loves those he works with. See people, not ends, as the goal of your leadership. Exude the sense that you value other people. Accept delays in working to love people and show them that you do. Settle for 98% productivity in order to communicate affection for your employees. Refrain from destroying the confidence of a young athlete who has messed up terribly in order to love him. Stay long after the church service to express to the lonely church member that you care for them. This, friends, is the stuff of leadership. This is the example our Lord set for us. His entire ministry was rooted in and motivated by love, love for his sheep, whom He had come to save. He discipled the apostles in love, bore with them, taught them, rebuked them, encouraged them, all for love.

Reject today the world and its obsession with the bottom line. Disdain its call to "by any means necessary" productivity. Follow Jesus, and lead your family, your coworkers, your church, with love. This will leave a track record that will not burn on the last day.


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