As I’ve said before, I’ve known a lot of leaders in my life. Those who were the best leaders and had the most impact on not only me, but others that followed them shared one common trait: love.
I had a bunch of youth pastors that cycled in and out of the church I grew up in. From 6th-12th grade, I had 5 different youth pastors. Above them all, one stands as the best in my mind. The thing that impressed me the most about this guy was his love for students. It was something that faded into the back of my memory until I reconnected with him again recently. He spoke at an event that I was at, and it all came back to me. It was lunch time, and he was talking with some of the other kids and youth pastors. As I was on my way to the lunch line, he was walking past me and he said, “Brad, you’re the man.” At that moment, I remembered how much he loved the students in our youth ministry. He never missed an opportunity to tell us that he loved us, believed in us, and would always fight for us. He showed us how much he loved us before he lead us anywhere.
That same church later became our first ministry job/experience. The lead pastor is a phenomenal leader in nearly every way I can think. What I love about him is his love for the people of the city and those he works with. He would say on a regular basis that the cries of the hurting in the city are what gets him out of bed and on his feet every morning, often at 4:00 or 5:00. He would get up and walk around the city before coming to work, praying for the homes and businesses he walked by. Spending just 5 minutes with him, you could sense his genuine love for people. One day, it snowed pretty bad and he was at church early. Because of the snow and ice on the streets he made the decision to delay opening the office until 10:00. Since he was already there, he got the whole custodial crew together and took them all out for breakfast. By the way, I should mention that he knew every person’s name that worked at the church. For most churches, that means knowing about a dozen people. This is a church of about 3,000 that employes between the church and school (who he knew as well) about 100 people. He didn’t just know everyone’s names, but he knew their story as well.
Then there is the example of Jesus as well. It was his love that drove Him to the cross. He told his followers that love is the most important thing several times in different ways. Matthew 22:34-40 and John 13:34, 35 (give them a read) are my favorite examples. All of Jesus disciples became martyrs. No one dies for something they do not love or believe in, you must both love and believe in your cause to die for it.
I followed all three of these great leaders (and still follow Jesus in case you are wondering), and would take a bullet for any of them. Their love inspires me daily to love those around me, and to show those I lead how much I love them.