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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Love: the only form of Christian leadership

A few weeks ago one of the love experts in my life reminded me of an incredible truth. Love is the only form of Christian leadership. Nothing else on this earth will draw people closer to God. Only love can. Only love helps people know the character of God.

I must admit I have tried my share of other tactics – managing, manipulating, controlling, inspiring. None of them have ever worked. Though I held a position “over” the people, I did not lead them anywhere. If I did, it was away from God, not toward Him.

I read I Corinthians 13 earlier today. I could not help thinking how much more patience and selflessness it takes to lead with love than with power. Power demands. Love invites. No one likes to be told what to do. Everyone wants to be invited.

I have a friend who keeps reminding me love never attempts to change people. I think about this a lot. I am an entirely different person than I was eleven years ago before I began to follow Jesus. I naturally would be since I was only nineteen years old then. I was a codependent mess. I did not have my own voice. I thought love was a feeling. I thought love was the neediness I felt for certain other people’s approval.

One of the oddest things I have thought about the love based on feelings is that it is always selfish, which even in my own opinion is a very harsh view. If loving someone with feeling-based love makes me feel better, am I giving to them when I love them? Or am I simply meeting my own need to feel better? Or is it an equal exchange?

I still love people with that kind of love. It is a God-given love. I have extremely strong feelings for some people on the face of this earth, but I do something different with the feeling than I did before. Now instead of appeasing, I set boundaries. Instead of trying to manipulate people into growing, I give them space to have conversations with God at their own pace. Sometimes the boundaries are to protect me from their poor choices. Sometimes the space is to protect them from my brokenness.

God’s love is not selfish. If I want to draw people closer to Him, I must love selflessly. I am not always good at this. In fact I really am never good at this. Often my motives are driven by other things – like feeling good. Experiencing God is another motive I have in serving and loving other people. I love being in situations where I can feel His presence around me. I love feeling His Spirit use me in His kingdom.

All self-serving motives are not bad. Recently I half-listened to a message by John Piper about Jesus enduring the Cross for the joy of the reward of enduring the Cross. Jesus died with a reward in mind.

As I think about this, I think about the reward for selfless loving set in front of me. His reward was a relationship with me. My reward is a deeper relationship with Him and others. It reminds me everything in God’s kingdom is about relationship. Nothing else matters.

Selfless love is the only thing that will demonstrate God’s love in the lives of the people around me. It is the only form of Christian leadership.

When I was in one of my seminary classes, the professor consistently reminded us leadership in the Church has nothing to do with titles. It has everything to do with using the gifts the Holy Spirit gave us whatever they might be. We lead when we love the people around us with these gifts. For example, when people with the gift of giving give generously, they lead well. People are inspired and begin to give more themselves.

Often the people who inspire me to follow Jesus are those without titled leadership roles. Some of the most untitled of His children have led me the farthest. It must be one of the ways God uses the simple to confound the wise.

I hope to keep doing my best to love people. It is the only thing I can do to bring them closer to Him. I will have to keep loving while I allow Jesus to be Head of His church. I will never be the head of anyone. Jesus is the direct leader of every believer on earth. I want to be someone who simply points people to Him.

He once said, “Call no man on earth your father.” Perhaps this is what He meant. He is the Head. We do what the Head instructs because we are the body. We are the hands and feet, arms, legs and mouth; and one of us must be the gall bladder.

Do you love people the way they are or do you try to change them? Does your influence lead people closer to God or further away?


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