For the Love of Leadership
With Valentine’s just barely behind us a timely topic to be thinking about right now is love. Love can mean different things to different people. For example, you can love your family and church volunteers, but also love pizza, football, and the Three Stooges. Some words have been diluted in our society and ‘love’ may be top of the list. Depending on how you were raised or your relationship history (romantic and friendships) using the word love can bring healing or fear. The English language is a complicated one, and while we only have one word to express love, it’s evident in the Bible that the Greek language had a few versions of the word love to help express Jesus’ love for us, the love we have for our spouses or for those around us.
Agape, storge, eros and phileo are the words the Bible uses to describe the sentiment of one word, love, in the English language. Here’s a brief breakdown:
Storge: This love has its basis in one’s own nature, like a natural affection or natural obligation. For example, it is a natural movement of the soul for one to love their husband, wife or child. This is used in Romans 1:31 or 12:10.
Eros: Eros is speaking to the love of romance and passion. This is referenced in Song of Solomon.
Agape: This word is called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved. It is the noblest word for love in the Greek language. This love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love, signifying the God is love. This is used in the Bible in verses like John 3:16, Romans 5:5 or Colossians 3:14.
Phileo: When Phileo is used in the Bible, it’s referring to companionable love. This love speaks of affection, fondness, or liking. You can find this in the Bible in Matthew 10:37, John 5:20 or 16:27.
As leaders, expressing love and gratitude should be part of our nature of leadership. The kind of love we need to express to our volunteers, congregation and staff is phileo love. But sometimes it’s hard to be our best and express this type of love in every situation. We also need to ask ourselves, do we really love leading? Are we passionate about the church or organization that’s in front of us? Once you are able to authentically love your position as a shepherd, you can authentically love your flock of sheep.
If you are feeling lost in your role of leadership, it’s possible to fall back in love what made you first want to lead your organization or church. In addition to communicating phileo love and appreciation to your peers and those you lead, here are some other qualities that will help you refine your leadership skills (and spread love) while leading.
Of all the qualities and characteristics in great leaders, humility is one of the greatest. It’s also rarer than it should be. True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. God gifted and equipped you for ministry, you didn’t. Being humble allows us to let go of the “me” mentality and remember to see those around us through a lens of love.
A passionate faith is the ultimate hallmark of Christian leadership. But the part that lags in many leaders is the passion part. Like the glimmering sheen of a new car, passion fades over time. It’s so important to make sure your passion stays fresh and your relationship with The Lord is one of love and connection. We have to fall in love with our Savior and have passion for His work and message in ordered to stay centered in our own leadership.
Are You Trustworthy?
Trust is confidence. Trust is about: telling the truth, character, and integrity. Trust is also about performance. There are more than a few leaders who personally have solid character, but are untrustworthy as leaders because they don’t deliver. Not performing communicates a lack of love and respect not only for your organization, but for your people. Do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it.
Love Through Clarity
One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is establishing clarity. As we’ve talked about, leadership is complex with many variables. Your head spins from the uncertainty involved.
Leaders worth following, though, do the hard work of creating clarity. You can’t always be certain. But you always have to be clear. Providing this clarity to your team is an expression of love, and can also help you see things more clearly, too.
Part of being a leader is always being able to look in the mirror and fine tune ourselves. With that in mind, our ultimate goal is to love our church or organization, love the people around us and lead them well into the future. We love because Christ loved us first, and for the love of leadership, we strive to emulate the leadership of our Savior every day.
How have you seen the power of love transform your leadership habits?