I have been blessed to work with leaders who genuinely care about me. They have cared enough to push me out of my comfort zone, challenge me to grow, and to ask me to take on leadership roles that I felt unqualified to do. But they were also there for me, coaching me, encouraging me, and often provided a safety net for me as I chartered new waters. Those same leaders were also there for me when my mom was dying of breast cancer, when my daughters went off to college and when they got married. They have prayed for my children on the mission field overseas and they have celebrated with me the blessing of grandchildren (even enduring pictures!). I am a leader who has been loved.
Does it matter that you love your people? Does it matter that you lead from your heart? I believe it will be the single most significant thing you do as a leader. In fact, I believe you have no equity to lead unless you love your people. Leading from the heart is required of all spiritual leaders. No matter the place of leadership (in the home, on a team, a ministry area, pastor, or a large organization), at the heart of leadership is the gospel and the heart of the gospel is love.
What does it look like to lead from the heart?
You think more highly of others than you do yourself.
You give others on your team the spotlight, the opportunity to win, and the credit for the win. You make sure others know the gifted men and women that serve with you.
Care enough to speak the truth in love.
Leading from the heart does not mean you never do the hard thing. In fact, because you do love people, you must do the hard thing but you do it from the heart.
Once there was an individual on who simply couldn’t get settled with the changes taking place on our team. His restlessness was having a negative impact on others. I knew I had to address this with him because were at a crossroads. I asked him to pray with me about which direction we would go. After a week of prayer, he came back fully committed to the direction we were going and has made a great contribution to the organization. Love requires the truth but that truth must be spoken from the heart, even when it is hard to do.
Pray specifically for those you are developing as future leaders.
There are men and women under your leadership that God has trusted you to steward their growth and development. Make a commitment to pray for them and to equip them.
You are willing to step back to let others step up.
I believe one of the mistakes of leaders is not being intentional about to hand off their leadership to the next in line. You should identify key individuals that you pull up beside you to coaching, develop, and provide opportunities for their growth. And at some point, you need to step back and let them step up. Let them take on more leadership so they are seen and heard.
You challenge others to grow, to stretch, and to reach their full potential.
When you love the people on your team, you won’t let them settle for mediocrity or complacency. But instead, you equip them and encourage them to do the best that they can.
You call out the gifts in others.
As a leader, you will often see the potential, talents and the gifts in others that they don’t see in themselves. That was so true of me. I never imagined I could do the things that others saw in me. I am so grateful that others called those gifts out in me and gave me an opportunity to use them. Give that gift of encouragement and insight to those you lead.
Get personal with those you lead.
Be vulnerable and share stories of your life. Being open with your life provides the space for those you lead to do the same. Then take the time to hear their stories of faith, family, and work. Ask them about their family. If you are able to, ask them how you can pray for them. You can’t separate out work and life. The people you lead bring both to the table, and it’s important for you to know both.
Ask God to give you a love for your people and He will. Ask Him to let you see them the way He sees them as His beloved sons or daughters. You may get a glimpse into their potential and be the person that God uses to help them reach their full potential in Christ.
Have you been impacted by a leader who has lead from the heart? I would love to hear your story.
“If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love. I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-2