“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:13
Leadership is a topic of deep conversation, debate, and strong opinion within our culture today. Many believe that leadership is about demanding results. Others feel it is an art of persuasion. Some think leadership is about power and dominance. Still others feel that leadership is simply an expression of intellect. And to some degree or another, there is a place for all of this within leadership – minus the dominance, that is. A good leader does produce consistent results, has a strong gift of persuasion, knows how to yield power, and carries influential intelligence. Leadership, however, goes a bit deeper than all this. As believers, through the gift of scripture, we have access to what the One who personifies true leadership says about it, and thus, the Christian leader efforts to add His characteristics to their life.
There are many passages we could focus on, or dive into. For now, I’d like to lean upon the words of the Apostle Paul found in the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. This famous chapter of scripture concludes with one of the more well-known verses, and in it, the Apostle Paul shares with us three major words; faith, hope, and love. Though one would not normally attach these words to leadership, I do believe that they are foundational for those who lead within the Christian faith.
Let’s dive into each of these words individually.
The author of Hebrews tells us in chapter 11 and verse 6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” True Christian leadership requires great faith, which requires a vulnerability that most leaders do not understand, or if they do, they tend to fear it. A true Christ centered leader is one who leans upon, not their own understanding, but on that of the Lord in absolute heartfelt faith in His goodness, and in His present all-knowing power (Proverbs 3:5). This faith requires a letting go, a handing over of personal knowledge and authority in favor of the One who has perfect knowledge and Authority. This is counterculture, and can feel a bit intellectually illogical, but the Christian leader becomes eternally influential and affective, not based on their talent and abilities, but upon the presence of God in their lives. It is God who rewards them for their surrendered seeking of His relationship, and will.
Biblical hope is nothing like the type of hope that is typically expressed on earth. God is no lottery ticket. We do not seek Him with the “hope” that today may be the day we win His favor against great odds. We do not wake up each day and “hope” God is in a good and giving mood. No, we hope in God because He – is – good and giving, because we believe, in faith, that His promises, no matter how numerous or seemingly lofty, are yes and amen through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). His promises tell us who we are, and where we are going, and there is nothing better for a Christian leader to hold onto than this hope-filled understanding. It is as if Christian leaders are working with insider trading information. This hope, however, does not mean a Christian leader’s day-to-day life will be all wonderful all the time, however, it is the confidence that keeps them from being tied to, or defined by, their difficult circumstances, the opinions of the world, or to the standards of success determined by outsiders. They are free to act as sons and daughters of a loving and protective Father, a King, who joyfully leads and guides those He loves, and whom love Him.
As 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “the greatest of these is love.” The Christian leader is a person of love, a person who sees others through the lens of the One who made all persons in His image (Gen. 1:27). This is why dominance is never the goal of a Christian leader. They are not looking to exact dictatorial control. Instead, regardless of circumstance and endeavor, they are striving toward freedom. They are looking to add to those God has placed in their life, and helping each person they lead become all that God intended them to be. Consider what the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 1:9-11,
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
And again, the Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 1:28,
“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
Later, in Colossians 3, Paul implores us to “put on love,” which binds all the sons and daughter of God together in “perfect unity” (Col. 3:14). In this we see the decisive conclusion, that Christian leaders care for people and serve them in the love of Christ that has been poured out on them, by Him.
As Christian leaders, then, lean on faith, stay confident in hope, and love the brothers and sisters of Christ within your care as Christ has loved you. In this way, we help them…
Go Deeper and Grow Stronger!