Leadership is about how to “do” life.  More specifically, it is about our “Approach” to life.   When we approach life correctly, behavior takes care of itself.  When that happens, others want to follow us.

Evolutionary scientists believe life can be created by assembling the right materials.  But as believers, we know that is impossible.   Life was created by God; he assembled the materials, but they had no life until He breathed it into them. 

Similarly, Christian life cannot be created by assembling the right principles of behavior.  We can break life down into principles to help us discuss it, but the Christian life cannot be created by assembling and applying principles from those discussions.  The Christian life only comes by God’s work in our lives, which began when He breathed rebirth into us through His Holy Spirit and continues as the SPIRIT’S (behavioral) fruit ripens more and more in our lives. 

Therefore, true Leadership does not “approach” life as the business of US working ON our lives, but the business of GOD working IN our lives.

Jesus is the greatest leader of all.  He created everything that exists, including us.  So He knows the right “approach” to life . . . and the right approach to Leadership.

And how did He approach Leadership?  Not by explaining principles and citing verses to support those principles and instructing His followers to discipline themselves to apply those principles more and more in their lives.  He did not want to create a spiritual Boy Scout troop living good lives for Jesus.  He wanted to draw us up into relationship with the Father. 

And so he lived life  with a small, closed group of men and showed them what a life with the Father looks like. 

His disciples saw him do only what He saw the Father do in each circumstance (John 5:19-whatever the Father does, the Son does also). 

They watched Him deal with adversaries, respond to people in need, decide when to minister and when to preach, and decide what to tell the people and what to tell the authorities. 

They observed that in all things, He was directing people to devote their lives to God–not just because the Bible tells you to do that–but because of Who the Father is.  And by his behavior Jesus was always showing Who the Father is (John 14:8-9­- “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”).

More importantly, He was showing relationship with the Father, devotion to Him.  And He had deep relationships with each of the disciples.  He loved them and they felt it deeply.  He implanted principles into their hearts in the nitty gritty of daily living.

Yes, He also “taught” principles.  “This is all the law and the prophets, that you love God with all your heart soul mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself” (drawn from Matthew 22:37-40). But because He had been living those principles out in front of His disciples, they would have reacted:

  • “Yes, that is a good way to put into words the things we have been seeing.” 


  • “So–Love is what we have to do, that’s great!  I wonder what Love looks like, how do we define it, I wonder what principles I can apply to be successful at Love?  We should do a seminar.” 

God is love.  Jesus lived love.  And so should we.   That is the correct “approach” to life. 

So if Leadership is about our “approach” to life, and if the right approach is Love, I therefore define true Leadership as follows:


Nothing more, nothing less.

When we see the disciples call Jesus “Master,” we should draw from the relationship we see in the movie Karate Kid to help remove our Western glasses.  Mr. Miyagi became a father figure to young Daniel and taught him as much about life itself as he did martial techniques.  At its core, leadership is relationship.

You can only learn relationship BY relationship.  

Church leadership should be a pyramid of relationships, with the pastor and elders loving God and each other deeply while “doing life” together, and showing others in the church how to do what they are doing.  (First Peter 4:8– “Above all, love each other deeplyandPhil. 4:9“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice.”

Perhaps one reason Paul required elders and deacons to have good family lives is because family is the crucible of love.  If you can love your spouse, your parents, your kids–you can love anyone!  And that makes you a good candidate for loving others in the church and being an example of love to them. Aiming for love in the church is more important than aiming for successful church programs because only love can make those programs successful.  The purpose of successful church programs should be to bring light into the world, and that can only be done by being examples of love.  (Second John. 1:10- “Whoever loves his brother walks in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”)

So what is the Love we see in God and Jesus that we should imitate?  That is a huge topic to itself.  For the moment, if we think of God’s love as a room He has prepared for us, we will never enter that room by disciplining ourselves, sacrificing, learning, doing good works, or applying right principles of behavior.    

However, once we are in that room through the Father’s love, we will find all those things in there waiting for us.  Relationships take disciplining ourselves, sacrificing, learning, doing good works, and applying right principles of behavior.    But because all those things are nothing without love (I Cor. 13), trying to use those things to get us to love comes only from self‑reliance, legalism, and a religious spirit–things that quench the Spirit and bar us from love like the angel set to guard the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were cast out.  Thus barred from love, we have nothing left to do with it other than reduce it to one of our “right principles of behavior” and imagine we know what it means.  

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