A Leadership Cue Card: Compelled by Love
Leadership. A lot of trees have been sacrificed to publish books on the subject. The term yields over 250,000 results on Amazon; over 3,000 results for “becoming a leader.” At its most basic, leadership is influence and leaders become spiritual leaders as God dislocates their hearts and places them in a particular time, place and circumstance to influence others for His glory. If it takes over 250k books and resources to explore the topic, is it possible to reduce the concept and practice of leadership to an “index card ready” statement of basic beliefs about leadership – a leadership cue card – that can guide us in our efforts to lead?
Obviously, I think the answer is “yes” and over the next five days, we will do just that: develop a leadership cue card.
Compelled by love, I will empty myself of self and live for the benefit of others.
I want to see who they can become in Christ, trust them to realize that potential and serve them on their journey.
Today, let’s look at that first sentence together.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes of his desire to persuade people to come to a knowledge of God. In verses 14-15, he summarizes the reason for his labor – his motivation for leadership: For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (HCSB)
The word translated compelled means to be “to hold together or compress.” Imagine a father taking his son’s head into his hands, placing his hands on each side of his son’s head, pressing in the ears and looking his son square in the eye. The son’s attention is now focused on the father, right? And the father can exert tremendous control over the son by keeping the pressure on and directing the son’s attention. As much as the son might want to escape, he is constrained by the grip of his father.
So, what is it that compelled or constrained Paul’s ministry to Asia Minor? It was love. Agape love. Love that acts for the good of others without any expectation of reward in return. Love demonstrated most completely when Christ died for the sins of the world.
To truly love another, you focus attention on them, without expecting anything in return. That doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy their gratitude if given, but it means you act even if they don’t express it to you. Love puts the work and intention of God for another at the center of attention. That’s what Christ did for us. He acted for our benefit, knowing that many would reject Him, because it was God’s desire to redeem us.
Where do we see this in Nehemiah’s example? Read Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter 1:5-10. Does this read like a man compelled by selfishness or love for God and for his fellow countrymen? What about the classic mission and vision statement in chapter 2:17. So I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned down. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” (HCSB) Nehemiah could have stayed in the king’s courts. But the news of Jerusalem’s ruin so moved his heart that Nehemiah’s concern for others compelled him to action. He was constrained, he was compelled to live for the benefit of others: first, as an instrument to demonstrate God’s glory to the nations around Israel; and, second, to the exiles who were living defenseless and disgraced.
So, the idea today is that a leader is compelled or constrained by love – unselfish concern for the welfare and benefit of others. Love places its hands on each side of our head and points us in the direction of service. It will not let us go. Compelled by love… I will live for the benefit of others.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the idea of emptying one’s self of self. In the meantime, what is focusing your attention? Is it love? Or something else?
FOR MEMORIZATION: For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. 2 Corinthians 5:14
FOR REFLECTION: Create your own leadership cue card: Compelled by love, I will empty myself of self and live for the benefit of others. I want to see who they can become in Christ, trust them to realize that potential and serve them on their journey. Place it in a place of prominence and review it several times a day this week.