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Leaders, here's a blog about love as it relates to leadership. Leadership can be summed up as many things, and one is certainly this: Leadership is loving those whom you lead.
Jesus, the ultimate leader, doesn't do business as usual
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.” Whew.. that’s a killer quote. You can check out the context by reading Luke 6, one of Jesus' most extended recorded lessons. Jesus' point is that the way of the world is not loving. Not by a long shot. The way of the world is easy, doing what comes naturally, and moving on quickly from those who cause difficulty. Avoid painful relationships.
The whole time from Advent, through Christmas, and into early January is to be a time of anticipation and appreciation of love, hope, joy, and peace. It is a time to consider them, and what opposes them. Some of what opposes love, hope, joy, and peace resides right inside of us. So I wanted to offer a brief reflection as we enter 2021.
How does the world work? How should we operate in the world if we are to be loving leaders?
The basic law of the world is: Do to them what they do to you or shut down your heart.
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Revenge or resignation. Fight or just react with "meh." Neither are inspiring, neither will accomplish much love, peace, joy or hope. In fact, these reactions of aggression or avoidance are simply not functional nor are they edifying. Love does fight, but not to destroy. Rather, love fights to build up. So we don't respond to simple foolishness, or deep folly, or evil with mere aggression, revenge, snarky retorts, or eye-for-an-eye tactics. No, we respond with love.
For example, your in-laws or coworker drives you crazy with passive-aggressive texts, and it is so tempting after yet another annoying text to simply say something snarky back, or use a lazy emoji to try to communicate they are out of line. That is revenge. No goodness, only a bit of truth, and no beauty is served or promoted by this strategy. Or, you receive the text, internalize all the negativity you interpret to be coming from it, decide that person doesn't care, is an idiot (or whatever your favorite curse word is), or that this relationship "just isn't working" and you decide to try not to care. This is resignation. The effort isn't worth it, and he/she/they won't change. Because nothing will be gained, you decide, then nothing is to be ventured or invested. This is a sad, even pitiful outcome. There is no vibrancy, honesty or helpfulness in this. It is a perverse way to live in light of the fact that we are made in God's image. Let's pivot away from this strategy of tragedy.
The basic law of the kingdom of heaven is: Love as Jesus loved with bold, vulnerable love.
There is no real alternative to worldly love without first appreciating God’s love, making Jesus Lord, believing in Jesus, and dying with him in baptism. There is no way to sustain this love without the Holy Spirit and a community of faith. Even with all these supports, we will falter at times. I fail often in loving like Jesus. I want to grow and I can’t wait for heaven. I say all this to reinforce how and why we bring this otherworldly love into our leadership endeavors.
Yes, we need to invest in one greater than us in order to rise above the way of the world. This is the burden of anyone who calls himself/herself a leader.
Reconciliation and renewal characterize Jesus' love and we are to bring this brand of love if we want to lead well. Jesus' brand of bold leadership love is centered on consistently reconciling and renewing relationships. First, we get rooted in God's love to prepare to offer this bold love. If we do not, we will revert to worldly, pathetic ways of transactional relationships that are not loving, as Jesus alluded to in Luke 6. Second, we get out there and work. Love is work. So we don't get revenge or give up in resignation. We offer bold love when the annoying texts come in.
It might look like this: That same text comes in from that same annoying person/people. Instead of going off on them, or writing them off as an egomaniacal buffoon, you brace your self for a tough conversation and say/text:
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"When you wrote (said, did) X, I felt Y. And this dynamic has been going on for some time. So I'd like to talk with you live, in-person, or video chat about how it is to relate to you. Please let me know if/when you'd like to do this."
In your mind, and heart, here are some things you can say to yourself or pray before, during, and after difficult tough love times like the example above:
I just care too much about this relationship to let this keep happening.
I'm leading this person to live better in all their roles.
It's possible I'm the only one that might ever give them a wake up to how they impact others.
I'm not trying to change him/her/them, I'm trying to love them so that they might choose to change. Very important yet subtle difference.
If God loves and forgives me and equips me, I can certainly love this person for a moment while I give loving, caring, challenging feedback.
There is much more to explore, so many more ways to love boldly, and multiple types of people we have to love as we lead, but I hope this got you thinking! We can and will (with God's power and love in us) fully and boldly love each other and do so consistently if we truly want to be like Jesus, as we strive to well in all our roles.
Bold Love, by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III
When People are Big and God is Small, by Ed Welch
Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown
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