Finding A New Way To Love As A Leader

How do you keep your perspective? Is there a place for "love"?

How does a leader keep perspective when things aren't going well? Balancing tension and diversity, growth and compassion, accountability and accessibility, message and metrics, vision and the reality is hard. When we are results focused, the relationship piece of the productivity puzzle is hard to maintain.


Coming into the office this morning I heard the last few minutes of Jimmy Carter’s 1977 inaugural address. While many have questioned his ability to lead the country, there is no question about his commitment to God, those in need, and the desire to do the “right thing” and in “the right way." He represented Christian love in all his activities. 


 The verse from the Bible that he quoted was from Micah 6:8:


“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”


As leaders of Christian Ministries, we have a similar challenge in front of us on a daily basis. How do we handle ourselves during the employed years and during the later, yet productive ones?


That extended challenge has a complex context. In another part of Carter's 1200 word speech he said, “Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of both spirituality and of human liberty.”  The juxtaposition of spirituality and human liberty as he described it, the juxtaposition of Spirituality and economic activity, business if you wish, is just one more piece in the complex puzzle of life. Particularly perplexing for those last three stages of retirement. Deciphering that puzzle and then leading with new insight is indeed a challenge. 


How do we lead within this? This is both a personal challenge and a leadership one!


I will suggest that it is an act of love to address this issue of “ministry for a lifetime." It is incumbent on us as leaders to convey a new perspective, a long-term ministry perspective. Here is the heart of the matter: In our complex and demanding world, and with all the activities of life, how are we challenged to think about a lifetime of ministry, not just ministry for a time or season? How do we understand and integrate God’s lifetime of preparation for us into a lifetime of ongoing service honoring Him? And then how do we encourage those we lead to do the same? 


How do we simplify?

Perhaps in order to simplify, we try to categorize, silo, or box-up complex issues into distinct, unconnected sound bites. We sometimes nod wisely about an issue while ducking the interconnectedness of our beliefs and values with life, business, financial and yes, political activity. 


Living it out

If, as leaders, we don’t address and come to grips with how to even think about the issue of “ministry for a lifetime," how can we impact those we are charged with leading to deal with it either?


In graduate school, I was first exposed to the idea of “opportunity cost." This is the identification and then measurement of what is lost by not taking a specific action. Clearly, if there is an opportunity lost, there is also opportunity gain. By not expanding our understanding of God’s preparation and our execution of “changed lives” strategies during the last 3 stages of life, lives will be wasted, lives not touched, and the personal opportunity to hear “well done” will slip through our fingers.

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