Studies, books, and articles cite a number of leadership essentials in common. The one that surprised me the most in secular studies was care. Believers are called to love and serve those whom they lead (e.g. Matt. 20:25-28; 1Pet. 5:1-4), but I didn’t expect such an emphasis on this for military and business leaders.
People are motivated by loving care. We are there to shepherd those who look to us as their leaders, whether it’s natural to us or not. Care is essential.
I can spot a fake a mile away. I’ve had women court my help and friendship for their purposes rather than out of love—or even like. Likemindedness only works so long as a motivator. We remain faithful in the long run out of love for leaders who love us.
That doesn’t mean that she has to do all the shepherding. For example, when I led a women’s ministry, I considered my leadership team and the Bible study leadership as my primary sheep. (It’s a great biblical metaphor.) I spent time with them individually and built relationships with them. They in turn took care of the women on their teams and in their small groups.
We’re called to love one another as Christ loved us and sacrificed himself for us. Shepherding involves a sacrifice of time. A leader who is unwilling to give individual time to those in her circle of volunteers, learners, or paid staff may need to step aside. I’m not saying she has to do all the caring herself, but she can’t completely ignore the needs of the women either and just meet with a group when it’s scheduled.
So take some time today and consider who is in your circle of influence. Who looks to you for wisdom, guidance, instruction, or supervision? And then figure out whether you love them and are caring well for them. Do you see them as means to your ends or as people to love as Christ loves you? If God shows you that you need to step up your care, he will give you the time and strength to do so—or partners to help you do it well.
Care is from the heart, and be sure that your people will know the difference.
Next up: Communicating Vision
Kay’s book From Ordinary Woman to Spiritual Leader details all of these characteristics of good leaders.