By Jerry D. Porter
Leadership is about loving others.
You cannot motivate or lead someone you do not love,
and you cannot lead someone who does not love you.
Leadership is all about loving relationships.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). The law of reciprocity makes me feel indebted to return kindnesses to those who are kind to me. My response to John 3:16 might be, “God loves me, and I love God.” In 1 John 3:16, however, the senior apostle writes: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (NIV).
Sometimes it is easier to love God than to love those I am called to lead! I cry out, “I love you, Lord, but people can really test my patience!” John, however, teaches, “God loves me; and therefore, I love you.”
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other” (1 John 4:7–11, MSG).
As you lead, you will encounter strong, differing opinions. This reflects the beautiful, diverse kaleidoscope of gifts, ministries, and perspectives in the Body of Christ. Toxic dissension poisons the fellowship and paralyzes our outreach. Choosing not to love those around me shows that I do not truly love Christ. “And he (Jesus) has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21, NIV). Love is more than an emotion. It is grace-empowered obedience.
On the final judgment day, we will be separated as sheep and goats. Our Lord will ask, “Didn’t you understand that when you loved others, you were loving me?” Maybe the best way to say, “I love you, Lord” is to show love to those I lead.