Monday, October 23, 2006


For all of you "Christian leaders" out there, maybe you can relate to this. I have felt challenged most of my adult life integrating "Christian" and "leader." At times the "leader" part has wanted to get away from the "Christian" part. At other times, the "Christian" part has seemed like a real drag on the "leader" part. The tension has flared up to a degree that on a few occasions I've fantasized about what it would be like to be a Christian who was not a leader, or vice versa. It always seemed to me that it would easier to be a Christian, if you weren't a leader, and easier to be a leader, if you weren't a Christian.

For instance, in six years I had a hand in planting 7 Worship Centers in four counties. Those were great years in my life, especially for the "leader" part of me. But I always felt a little apologetic, concerned that I might be going too fast or far. I've wanted to know that I was not getting ahead of God. I've never really felt comfortable "putting the pedal to the metal."

Just this past year I came to a helpful insight that makes the marriage between "Christian" and "leader" work a lot better. The insight is this: A Christian leader is not different in his aggression, only in his motivation. What makes Christian leadership "Christian" is not that it is less aggressive, but that it is properly motivated.

A Christian leader should be every bit as driven and persistent as any leader (more so, maybe?) but only for one reason: Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14: "Do everything in love." Love is a great stimulus, actually. It is a far better stimulus than threat or pressure. While a non-Christian leader may be driven by power, prestige, popularity or position, a Christian leader is driven by love, either for God or other people. But he is driven.

Leaders are ambitious. Ambition may be called by many names: motivation, drive, enthusiasm, or achievement. Regardless of how it is described, a certain amount of drive is essential to leadership .

Christian leaders may just as ambitious as non-Christian leaders. It's just that love has to be the driving force for a Christian leader. As Max DePree writes in Leading Without Power, “We are working primarily for love.” John Stanford, a successful leader in the military and education, has often been asked the secret of his success. He says,

When anyone asks me that question, I tell them I have the secret to success in life. The secret of success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others and to achieve. I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.

I read about one of the most successful executives of one of the largest corporations in America. When he was asked about how he achieved such stunning results he said, “I just took principles from the Bible and put them into action on the job.” He said, “Love is a legitimate business strategy.” Evidently, Christian and leader can go together pretty well. Love is the glue.

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