Lately, I’ve been describing the core characteristics of a Christian leader.  I’ve shared how effective leaders should carry wisdom, understanding, vision, discretion, discernment, and responsibility. Today, I’d like to share about a quality that is at the core of effective leaders and at the heart of effective leadership: LOVE.

The heart of a leader is motivated by love for the people under his or her responsibility. To be a truly effective leader, you must genuinely love the people you are leading.  Think about the people you would consider to be the best leaders you’ve personally encountered.  Most likely, you think of those who have demonstrated a loving care and commitment for you.  

Genuine love is a true motivator that makes leaders willing to sacrifice for the good of others.  One of the most well-known verses in the Bible is this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).  The greatest sacrifice we can imagine was founded on love.  God so loved the world that He gave.  Though our sacrifice is not as great, when we love, we give as well.

Love initiates action.  Many times in Scripture, we find references to Jesus being “moved with compassion.”  Mark told of an instance in which Jesus looked out over a multitude of people and was “moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd” (Mark 6:34a).  Jesus didn’t just feel compassion for the people; He was moved with compassion for them.  His compassion moved Him to action so that “He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34b).  You see, when you see someone with a need, true compassion causes you to do something about the need.  

When Jesus looked out over the multitude, I’m sure He saw people who weren’t perfect.  Yet, even though He saw sinners, He didn’t chastise them for their sins.  Instead, He felt compassion for them, knowing that they had simply been led astray.  Instead of calling them out for their problems, He decided to be the solution they needed.  He began to teach them the truth that they so desperately lacked.  He became the shepherd for the sheep.

In the same way, think about the people God has entrusted to your responsibility.  Whether they are members of your family, a work crew, a sports team, or a Sunday school class, it’s important to lead them with love. Never look down on them even if you see faults. Instead, look at them through a lens of love and determine to raise them up rather than beat them down.  Be moved with compassion to meet their needs.

Peter exhorted Christians to “shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Be a leader who carries the kind of love for others that a shepherd shows for his flock. Only God can give you that supernatural kind of compassion. Yes, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). When leadership gets difficult, love keeps you going.

Leadership Lesson: Even when you feel like you don’t know how to lead others, just love them. You will end up leading them.