As a Jesus follower, you have been called and gifted to be a Christ-centered leader. You have a responsibility to live and lead as God has created you to live and lead. The question is, “What does it mean to live and lead as a Christ-centered leader?

The Role of a Christ-Centered Leader

Your first and primary task is to be faithful to Jesus. So, your first task is not a political or social one, though you will certainly make an impact politically and socially. Your first task is to be shaped by God’s love so you can be who God created you to be. It is to live and be the truth of God’s love in everyday situations and circumstances.

Your goal is not success in terms of bigger and better or more people means more money. Your goal is to demonstrate that Jesus makes possible a new order based not upon what works or competing self-interest, but upon the truth of God’s love.

Living Out God’s Love in Everyday Situations

This is not a withdrawal from the world. God’s love invites, leads, and drives you into the world to work for justice and peace. You must take seriously the political processes that change systems and structures. You develop relationships with political leaders and assist them in working for the common good.

But you don’t put your hope in the political systems that serve self-interest or in societal norms of personal preference. As you live and lead you offer an invitation to the people entrusted to your care to confront the world. In obedience to Jesus’ invitation, you are first focused upon who you are by responding to, “Come unto me,” and “Do this in remembrance of me,” and then upon living as you have been created to live, “Follow me” and “Go into all the world.”

Balancing Belief and Behavior

As a leader of the people of God, you serve the church and the community. Your service is not in running errands but in providing light. You lead to provide an imaginative alternative to the culture. As you model leadership, you are providing hope for people who are struggling to create the structures and alternatives that the world cannot achieve through governmental power of self-interest.

You might wonder if your leading is worth the hassle. Here is where your courageous leadership comes in. Keep your eyes, heart, and mind on Jesus. When you feel your living and leading are ineffective, remember that Jesus appeared ineffective in the world. Then remember that his power was the truth of the nature of God and not power, strength, and violence within the culture.

Modeling Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Modeling God’s love will always be more radical than the world can provide. Legislation cannot serve the poorest and most powerless. The best policies can do is to give the less powerful a little more power and call it justice. The world cannot give dignity to the young, the old, the sick, the disabled, the marginalized. All it can do is hand out a few meager rights and call it compassion.

For the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick, there must be hope that is not dependent upon public policy but upon the promise that God’s love is stronger than death, and that nothing can separate them or any of us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. You living into your call and giftedness helps bring that about.

As a Christ-centered leader, your living and loving help develop and provide a radical hope that forms a community of faith around the truth of God’s love as experienced in and through Jesus.

So first be faithful to Jesus.

Putting Faith into Everyday Action

Your second task is to live your faith in everyday relationships, encounters, situations, and circumstances. It is important to put belief and behavior together. As a leader influenced by John Wesley, you balance personal piety and social holiness.

In the scripture, proper behavior is a response to faith in God who is acting on your behalf. God’s requirements are always preceded by God’s actions. In the Old Testament, belief and behavior are brought together, “Hear O Israel: The Lord your God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4). That is the belief. Then follows the response: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). So, to be faithful to Jesus is to live your faith in everyday relationships, encounters, situations, and circumstances.

The Ten Commandments begin with the words, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). That is faith and belief. The commandments represent appropriate behavior in response to God’s acts of deliverance from slavery in Egypt.

The Good News in the New Testament

In good news according to Mark, Jesus walked along the lakeside announcing, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). That was an invitation to faith. It was an invitation to believe that God was bringing a new world. Then comes the appropriate response, “Repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). All of Jesus’ demands, from “Come follow me” to “Take up your cross,” from “Go sell all you have and give to the poor” to “Turn the other cheek and go the second mile” are rooted in God’s invitation to love.

Paul in his letter to the Galatians writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). That is belief. Jesus has set us free. Then comes the invitation to respond, “Stand firm, therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery…For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters” (Galatians 5:1, 13). Then Paul offers the expected behavior, “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another” (Galatians 5:13). So, to be faithful to Jesus is to live your faith in everyday situations and circumstances.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (II Corinthians 5:19). God acted in Jesus to reconcile us to God, to our true selves, and to others. In other words, God has acted in Jesus so we can be who God created us to be. The question is, what is the behavior to be balanced with this good news? Paul answers the questions for us, “And entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us” (II Corinthians 5:19-20). Your response to God’s reconciling love is to model through your leading the gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation.

The Leadership Role of Gratitude

At the heart of your faith and action is gratitude for God’s faith in you. Gratitude transforms obedience from a dreaded duty to a joyful expression of love. We simply enjoy doing what we do out of gratitude and love.

I remember a friend of mine telling me about his wife being on a business trip and what his children did to surprise her. On the day she was to return, my friend said he tried to persuade his son and daughter to help him clean the house before she arrived. He said they grumbled and procrastinated because they had other things to do.

As he served them their lunch, he said to them, “You know, Mom has been very good to us. She works hard and long, and she loves us very much. She will come in the door tonight with a hug and a gift for each of us. That is who she is. We are lucky to be loved so much. Why don’t we give her something as a gift? Let’s give her a clean house.” The children agreed. After lunch, they helped clean the house and even had fun making a game out of it.

I remember thinking that a clean house became a grateful response to a loving parent. That is behavior linked to belief. What a beautiful expression of faith in Jesus lived out in everyday situations and circumstances. That is what it means to lead as a Christ-centered leader. First you are faithful to Jesus, and you live your faith in everyday relationships, encounters, situations, and circumstances.

The Impact of Leadership

As a Christ-centered leader, why do you put your faith in Jesus into everyday action?

Several years ago, I read a story of a Canadian photographer by the name of Yousaf Karsh. The only portrait he took of a person’s back was taken of Pablo Casals in a small French Abbey in 1954. Karsh said he was setting up his equipment when Casals began playing Bach on his cello. Karsh was so taken by the music that he said he almost forgot why he was there. He took his portrait of Casals with the musician bent over his cello, frozen in time against the plain stone wall of the chapel. Karsh said that he took it that way to capture the loneliness of the truly great artists and the loneliness of the exile.

You are God’s Masterpiece

Years later, when the portrait was on exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, another old man came day after day and stood for long periods of time in front of the portrait. The Curator of the Museum noticed him, and when his curiosity got the best of him, he went over, tapped the man on the shoulder, and asked him why he stood so long before the picture. The old man, with obvious irritation, turned toward the curator and said, “Hush, young man. Can’t you see I’m listening to the music!”

Karsh watched Casals play his cello and presented a picture. The old man, looking at that picture, could hear the music.

You have been called and gifted to be a Christ-centered leader. You have a responsibility to live and lead as God has created you to live and lead. As a leader, you are God’s model, God’s picture, God’s music of what God wants your community, your neighborhood, your city to be.

As a Christ-centered leader, when you live and lead with God’s love you provide a radical hope all people need. Your music, your leadership, will permeate the whole of life and people will listen to you and follow you to Jesus.

Remember, who you are is how you lead!

Leadership and power go together. As a leader, you have the power to influence people. As you live into the responsibility of discovering and developing the potential of people, you learn how to use your power appropriately. You learn to influence people, not by controlling or micromanaging, but by giving your power and influence away.  To be an effective and courageous leader, you learn to use your power to empower others. 

Most people think of power as the control that high-level leaders exert from their positions. But power extends beyond the formal authority that comes from a title or a position. Before looking at the power you have as a Christ-centered leader, let’s name seven bases of power that often are used and misused in leadership. 

7 Bases of Power

The power of position. This is the power of formal authority that derives from a person’s title or position in a group.

The power of expertise. This is the power of influence that comes from developing and communicating specialized knowledge, or the perception of knowledge.

The power of charisma. This is the power of influence that is generated by a leader’s style or personality.

The power of relationships. This is the power of influence that leaders gain through their formal and informal networks both inside and outside of the church or organization.

The power of information. This is the power of control that is generated through the use of evidence either used or withheld.

The power to reward others. This is the power to reward and recognize individuals for adhering to standards or expectations.

The power of punishment. This is the power to sanction individuals for failure to conform to standards or expectations. 

As a Christ-centered leader, you have another base of power. You have a power that comes from a higher source. Effective leaders draw their strength from an inner source of values, character, and faith. Let’s use our practice of “Read, Reflect, Respond, and Return” to explore that base of power. 

Read Acts 1:6-8 

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 


This scripture reflects two different understandings of power. The early followers of Jesus had political power in mind. They had grown up learning about the Messiah being a military and political leader. In their hearts and minds, Jesus was the Messiah. He was the anointed one of God who would restore Israel to power, a political and military power. For them, the Messiah was going to drive out and destroy the Romans and restore power to Israel. 

Their question shows that they have missed the point of Jesus returning in the power of the Spirit. Jesus’ teaching had become twisted in their understanding and ideas of the kingdom. They had missed what Jesus was teaching and were wanting Jesus to meet their agenda. 

Missing Power

I can imagine them saying, “Jesus, we appreciate all you have done on the cross and in the resurrection, and what you are saying about the kingdom and power is fine, but is it going to move toward our agenda? We became your followers because we thought you were to restore Israel to power.  Now, we aren’t pressuring you, we are just reluctant to ask, “Are you going to do it or not?” 

With their assumption that the Messiah would drive out and destroy the Romans, Jesus replied that only God knows the time of the coming of the kingdom.  Instead of answering their misunderstandings, those early followers were given a job to do. 

Holy Spirit Power

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” 

Jesus is saying, you will receive power, but it is not the power you think it is. You shall receive power, but not political or military power. You will receive power from God when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. 

The church’s mission is not carried out in its own strength. The church is not merely a group of good people trying hard to make the world a better place. The church functions by the presence and power of God. This is a unique kind of power rooted in communication, service, compassion, and a deep sense of purpose. To lead from this kind of power involves empowering others. It involves sharing your influence beyond yourself to bring about transformation in your church, your community, and in the world. 

The presence and power of God is the power of Christ-centered leaders. So, what does that mean for you? 

You will receive power: 

To Communicate:

 “…you will be my witnesses…” To be a witness means several things. One, a witness is a person who says I know this is true. Two, a witness is a person who lives the truth. Three, a witness is a martyr, not in the sense of dying for what you know is true, but living for what you know is true. To be a witness means to be loyal no matter the cost. “You will be my witnesses” means you will be loyal to Jesus, regardless of the cost, in what you say and do. 

To be a witness is enough, but there is more to the power of communication. There is an example of the power in the second chapter of Acts. “Now there were devout Jews from every people under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

This story is an example of the power of communication. When you look at the story closely, it says once that “They…began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enable them to speak.” It says three times people heard in their own languages.

The early followers of Jesus were given the power to communicate in ways people could understand. This is a power given by God and practiced by followers of Jesus. As a Christ-centered leader, you are assisting followers of Jesus to communicate in the language of the people in the neighborhood and community. 

To organize and strategize

“in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This scripture is the introduction to the story of the Acts of the Apostles being commissioned to reorient their lives from looking up and expecting Jesus to return to looking out into the world and their mission in it. 

The story in Acts is about communicating and sharing God’s love starting in Jerusalem, where they are at the moment, moving to Judea, which would represent home for most of them, moving to Samaria, which represents an area of hundreds of years of prejudice, and then moving to the ends of the earth, which includes their enemies in Rome. 

The deeper meaning here is that Luke presents the church as a community that, though it began as a Jewish sect, will become a universal inclusive community transcending languages and cultures. 

The early followers of Jesus were given the power to start right where they were and to move out in taking God’s love to all the world. This organized effort did not happen all at once. In fact, you, as a Christ-centered leader, are a part of the movement at this very moment. You are leading people in becoming witnesses, first at home, then with friends, colleagues, and neighbors, then with people who are marginalized, outcasts, and looked down upon, and then to all the world which includes your enemies. 

As a Christ-centered leader, you have the power to replicate, at home, what you have been leading people to do in other communities and cultures. You have the power to teach people to welcome others as God in Christ has welcomed them and to love others as they have been loved. I know it seems strange to say you have the power to organize and strategize such love in action, but if you don’t plan it, it will never happen. When you aim at nothing, you usually hit it. You have the power to organize and strategize God’s power starting right where you are. 

To embrace diversity: 

“in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Luke knows that the church is destined to become a universal community. In the second chapter of Acts, the list of nations is symbolic of the whole world. His list transcends the Roman Empire and includes the Parthians who have been a constant enemy threat. Jews and Arabs are both embraced in the vision of the universal church. Luke includes those born into Jewish families and those who have been converted to Judaism from Gentile religions. Ethnic and racial diversity is represented from the very beginning. There are even visitors from Rome. Luke concludes his story with the arrival of Paul in Rome. But there were people from Rome present at the beginning of the church. 

As a Christ-centered leader, you have the power to appreciate and value different perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. You also have the power to lead others in that same appreciation. 

You will receive power…Who you are is how you lead. 


As a Christ-centered leader, you have a base of power that comes from outside yourself. Your power is not based upon position, although you can leverage your position to give your power away; expertise, although as you learn and gain knowledge you have more to offer; charisma, which comes more from character as it does from personality; information, which means you have the opportunity to share what you know and are learning; reward or punishment. 

Your power comes from a higher source. And as a Christ-centered leader, you draw your strength from that source that forms your values, character, and faith. You draw your strength from God who you know in and through Jesus. 

Although the early followers of Jesus missed the point of power, you have the opportunity to assist people beyond such misunderstandings. You have received the power to communicate in ways people will understand, to organize and strategize so the world will know of God’s love, and to embrace diversity. So, be who God has created you to be, not by the power of position but by the power of God. 

Who you are is how you lead. 


Give God thanks for the people you met today. Where did you exert your power? Did you use your position to leverage power? How did you interact with others? What did you learn about yourself? Who is helping you remember that you are a child of God and that you have been empowered to love others as God has loved you? What will you do differently tomorrow? Ask God to give you the faith to be the leader God has created you to be.  


O God, today I give you thanks for life and work. I pray for the power to be your witness starting where I am now. Remind me throughout the day of how you love me and how you have empowered me to love the people around me. I offer myself to you in the name of Jesus.  Amen

How do you lead through conflict? Do you work primarily to manage it, resolve it, transform it, or avoid it? Part of being a courageous and effective leader is being able to confront conflict and to lead people through it. Leading through conflict is one place that reveals who you are is how you lead. 

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. It occurs naturally on a daily basis in one form or another. There will always be differences of opinion and disagreements. It is a part of the human experience. It influences your actions, your decisions, and your relationships. Although it is often viewed as being negative, conflict can be an opportunity for positive learning and growth. 

Leading Through Conflict

As a leader, you already know that conflict can be a result of attitude, race, gender, looks, education, opinions, feelings, religion, and culture. It can grow out of differences in values, affiliations, roles, positions, and status. And even though you might attempt to find the cause of any particular conflict, the reality of most conflict is complex and is made up of a mixture of sources from emotions to values. 

So, how do you lead through conflict? Matthew, in his good news, gives us direction regarding conflict. Let’s use our practice of “Read, Reflect, Respond, and Return” as a pattern for confronting conflict while caring for relationships. 

Read Matthew 18:15-20 

15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If you are listened to, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If that person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” 


There are several stories of conflict in the New Testament. A quick read reveals that Jesus was not frightened by it and even invited people into it. One day he asked his disciples, “What were you arguing about along the way?” He knew his question would lead to a messy discussion about who was the greatest. He asked people why they called him “Lord” without doing what he said, and he called religious leaders “white-washed tombs” knowing that things would get messy. 

There was a conflict in the church after Jesus ascended. Hebrew-speaking Christians got tangled up with Greek-speaking Christians about whose poor were getting cared for. Paul went after Peter for giving in to the legalists. The list goes on. 

Relationships and Conflict

John Ortberg, in his book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them, writes, “People who love authentic community always prefer the pain of temporary chaos and conflict to the peace of permanent superficiality.” 

Relationships were important to Jesus and to the early church. So, Matthew tells of Jesus teaching how to live a righteous and holy life. For Matthew, the righteous and holy life is lived out in relationships.

So, the righteous and holy life is seen in how you restore and maintain relationships in the midst of conflict. Dealing with conflict always involves a series of choices. To assist us to live in relationship as God’s children, Jesus gives a set of instructions about what to do in case of relational breakdowns. 

How to Navigate Conflict? 

So, when there is conflict: 

Acknowledge it. 

To be alive means to be in conflict. When there is conflict, you have two choices. You either pretend that conflict does not exist and become conflict-avoidant, or you honestly admit there is a challenge, a broken relationship. Matthew is talking directly to Jesus’ followers when he writes, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go…” 

When there is conflict, there has been a breakdown of some kind. Usually, the breakdown is more complex than what appears on the surface. There will be no transformation without a serious commitment to face the breakdown. Acknowledge the conflict. 

Take responsibility for your part in it. 

As a Christ-centered leader, take the responsibility to set things right. Regardless of the cause of the conflict, take the first step toward restoring your relationship. We don’t naturally want to do this. We have thoughts like, “it is not fair that I should have to be the one to take the first step.”

Here is where who you are comes into play. Instead of blaming others and avoiding responsibility, be who God created you to be, take responsibility for your part, and move forward toward reconciliation. 

Take action to confront it. 

Don’t let resentment grow. Often, when you have been wronged, it feels better to be angry and to play the victim. You have been wronged and someone should do something about it. You are correct. It is you who takes the initiative. 

Go and make it right with your neighbor, friend, or colleague. It will not be easy. You will not do it perfectly. Just remember this, avoidance kills community. Here is where your self-awareness is important. 

Approach the people involved with generosity. 

You truly do not know what is going on in the heart and mind of another person. So, be generous in your assumptions and projections. Here is where love comes into play. As a Christ-centered leader, you are always leading with the best interest of others in mind. You are always working for their good as well as the good of the church or your organization. Remember, you are in the people business. Love others as God in Christ has loved you. Be generous in your assumptions and projections. 

Approach others with the same care and sensitivity that you would want to be approached. 

Deal with it privately. Include only those with whom there is conflict. As Jesus has instructed through Matthew, “go…when the two of you are alone. If you are listened to, you have regained that one.” Be aware not to embarrass others by approaching them in front of an audience. Approach the other person in the way you would want to be approached. 

Just a bit of advice on this point. If you are angry, deal with your anger first. It is not healthy to confront conflict with anger. This is not a time to ventilate. It might make you feel better, but it will do nothing about transforming the conflict. Your ventilation shows that you have not taken the other person seriously. So, be clear about your motives, deal with your anger, and approach others the way you want to be approached. 

Be clear in your communication. 

Brene Brown reminds us that Clear is kind. I read recently of a pastor who taught his staff the “Last 10% Rule.” Often, after going through all the challenging work of setting up a difficult conversation, he found people would stop and not discuss the hardest but most important truth. They would fail to say the last 10%. 

So, what happened? They were vague and fuzzy just at the time clarity was most needed. For example, Instead of saying, “You talked too much at the meeting,” people would speak vaguely of not feeling connected to the other person and hope they will fill in the blanks. Here is the reality of that situation or lack of clarity. You are not speaking out of love for the other person. You just don’t want to go through the pain and fear involved in a deeper conflict. Remember, “Clear is kind.” 

Describe clearly what you have observed. 

Explain how you perceived it. Tell me what the consequences have been.  Ask for the change you want.  And then ask, “How can we move forward toward our goal of being in relationship with each other.” 

Aim for reconciliation. 

“If you are listened to, you have regained that one.” The goal of conflict transformation is not to win but to restore broken relationships. Reconciliation is rarely simple and never quick. Again, this is where who you are is how you will lead. Reconciliation takes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It takes loving your neighbor as you have been loved. It takes doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. You get the point.   

Remember you are not alone. 

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” You often hear these words regarding worship. But Matthew did not use the words in relationship to worship. He used them in relationship to conflict.  Remember, when you are confronting conflict, God is with you. You are not alone. When you are confronting conflict, you are being who God created you to be. You are not asked to live a righteous and holy life on your own. God is with you as you build and maintain healthy relationships. It is who you are as a Christ-centered leader. 


From my perspective, this scripture has often been used more as a weapon than as a tool. It has been used to gain control rather than restoration. It is part of our broken human nature to experience conflict. Whether it be differences of opinions, different world views, or a clash of values, we human beings will always be at odds in one form or another. 

God sent Jesus to teach us how to live before God. I understand that means “be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect.” In other words, to be whole, righteous, and holy. From Matthew’s perspective, as well as the other gospel writers, righteous and holy living is lived out in relationship with other human beings. We love one another as God in Christ has loved us. 

It Starts with Me

The first place I have to start in confronting conflict is with myself. When I am at peace with God, I am at peace with myself, and at peace with others. When I get angry, I first ask myself “Why am I angry?” Even my best self wants to blame others for my misunderstandings. I first must deal with my own hurt, frustration, and fear before I can honestly confront any relational conflict in a healthy way. 

When I finally came to my senses, I asked myself “What do I want?” Too often when people get to a certain level of anger, their only focus is to win the argument or to inflict pain or to get even. They forget about righteous and holy living. They forget, if only for a moment, that righteous and holy living is to be in healthy, loving relationships with the people around them, especially the people they want to hurt or “tell where to go.” I know. I speak from experience. 

Conflict at the Extreme

Just for the fun of it. I want to share with you some information that carries anger and conflict avoidance to the extreme. It illustrates that the problem of conflict usually begins within us. 

There are over 33,000 denominations of Christianity in the world. Every one of them was a split. Almost all of them were born out of anger, hostility, and withdrawal between people who claimed to follow the teachings of Jesus. This is the same Jesus who prayed to his Father that all his followers might “be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me.” 

A man was lost at sea. He found his way to a desert island where he lived for fifteen years. One day, a ship came by, he was found, and was rescued from the island. Before leaving, he gave his rescuers a little tour of the buildings he had constructed over the years. It was a one-man town, but it served his purposes for survival. Pointing in one direction he said, “That is my house.” Then he pointed in another direction and said, “That is my store. I store coconuts, berries, and roots in there.” Then he pointed to the building next to it and said, “That is my cabana. I rest there. I have even taken a few vacations there.” Then he pointed to the next building and said, “And that is where I go to church.”   

The rescuers were amazed. One of them noticed another building next to the church and asked, “What is that building next to it?” 

The man replied, “Oh, that is where I used to go to church.”


Give God thanks for the people you met today. 

  • Where did you experience conflict? 
  • How did you respond? 
  • How did you interact with others? 
  • What did you learn about yourself? 
  • Who is helping you remember that you are a child of God and that you are not alone when you confront conflict? 
  • What will you do differently tomorrow? 
  • Ask God to give you the faith to be the leader God has created you to be.  


May this prayer of Jesus become reality in and through you and the people entrusted to your care. 

“I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” So let it be!

Character is essential in leadership. Your competency determines what you can do. Your commitment determines what you want to do. But your character determines what you will do. It shapes how you engage the world around you, what you notice, what you reinforce, who you engage in conversation, what you value, and what you choose to act on. The list goes on. 

There are more books on leadership that focus on style than on character. It seems that we are more interested in leaders who can get us what we want rather than leaders who model the life we need to live. At times we act as if character is old-fashioned and out of date. At other times we are reluctant to discuss character because we cannot measure it objectively.   

Failure of Character

When mistakes are made in leadership, we usually look first at a leader’s shortcomings in abilities and gifts, when the root cause is a failing of character.  A lack of self-awareness is rooted in character. Not being willing to listen to others because of the perception it will undermine your leadership is a problem of character. The fear of making decisions reflects character. Selective truth-telling is a measure of character. 

On a more positive note, challenging decisions made by others, because they are morally or ethically wrong, requires character. Dealing with prejudiced and unfair behaviors by others requires character. Creating a culture of constructive disagreement so others can challenge your decisions without fear of consequences requires character. Truthtelling requires character. 

Christ-Centered Leadership Necessitates Character

Character is essential to leadership, especially Christ-centered leadership. Let’s look at what the apostle Paul says about character.

Let’s use the pattern of READ, REFLECT, RESPOND, and RETURN as a way of examining one aspect of character in the scripture. 

READ: Galatians 5:16-25  

Focus on the scripture verses in italics.

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.


Paul names nine qualities of character known as the “Fruit of the Spirit.”  These qualities can be divided into three categories: relationship with God, relationship with others, and relationship with yourself.

Without these qualities, you cannot and will not reflect who God has created you to be as a leader. The Fruit of the Spirit reflects the characteristics of God in human form. Ultimately revealed in Jesus, these are the characteristics of Christ-centered leaders. Your character as a leader produces this fruit.

Relationship with God

The first category is love, joy, and peace.

Love:  This is agape. It means unconquerable benevolence.  No matter what a person might do to you by way of insult, injury, or humiliation, you never seek anything other than his or her highest good.  It is a feeling of the mind as much as it is of the heart; it concerns the will just as much as it does the emotions.  It describes the effort of seeking the best for all people, even for those who seek the worst for you.

Joy:  This shows your trust in God. It means to know God as the God of all circumstances.  You are living into who God created you to be regardless of life situation or setting. Being rooted in God, joy is not upon the happenings or consequences in your life. It is seeing the situations of life as opportunities for trusting God

Peace:  This is Shalom. It means everything that makes for a person’s highest good.  It is more than the absence of conflict or trouble.  It is the calmness of heart and mind, which comes from the all-pervading consciousness that your life is in the hands of God. It is being at one with God, yourself, and others. 

Relationship with Others

The second category is patience, kindness, and generosity. 

Patience:  This is an action-focused upon people rather than circumstances. It means to overlook the inconveniences of the world in regard to people.  It is an attitude, which leads us to deal with others with love, forgiveness, and long-suffering, just as God in Jesus has dealt with us.  It also means to be disciplined in regard to wants or desires.

Kindness:  Again, this is an action focused on people. It means to love and care for people with the same love and care God in Christ has loved and cared for you. It reveals your inner life because kindness is the integration of the inner character and the outward expression of your life in relationship to others. You are making the way easier because you are related to the people around you.

Generosity (goodness): It means you see people doing the best they can in every situation and circumstance. Your actions reveal the love of God to the point that those around you who are comfortable in their apathy, unconcern, and insensitivity are afflicted by your very presence, and those who are afflicted by the pains and problems of life will be comforted by your same presence.  It refers to the life of a person who can be caring and strong at the same time.  

Relationship with Yourself

The third category is faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Faithfulness:  This means you are trustworthy or reliable.  It means keeping your promises and being dependable.

Gentleness:  This is a matter of self-awareness. It means you know yourself to the point that you are pointing others to God as you love and care for them. You are teachable and considerate. And because who you are grows out of your relationship with God, humility is revealed in the way you relate to and treat others.

Self-control:  This means you control desires and wants. You control yourself to the point that you are fit to be the leader of others. As a leader, it is easy to step out of the character of God and into the passions of your own heart. Your passion (fallen nature) is often opposed to the passion of God (your true created nature). 

To be led by the Spirit is to be obedient to God’s plan and purpose for your life. Paul knew within himself the struggle to be who God had created him to be. He knew the distinction between the works of the flesh (his own desires) and the fruit of the Spirit (God’s desires) through his own experience.  His life had been in chaos.  His sinful nature in rebellion against God made him at war even with himself and split his life into fragmentary deeds.  Then came the reconciling love of Christ, integrating his life with God and with others. It is all centered on the unifying love of Christ. 

Evidence of Integrity

The evidence of your integrity (joining of inner life and outer life) is shown in your obedience to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.  The evidence of the character of God in your life and leadership is called “The Fruit of the Spirit.”  

The fruit of the Spirit is the outward expression of Christ dwelling within you.  Powerfully and surely the Spirit works.  Sometimes dramatically, sometimes slowly, and most times imperceptibly, the Spirit works in your life and is seen in your relationships. 

Character is essential to leadership, especially Christ-centered leadership. There is much more, but this lays a partial foundation for understanding the importance of character in leaders. 


There once was a woman who had a deep desire for peace in the world as well as in her life. She became frustrated because both seemed out of her reach. The world seemed to be falling apart and her personal life wasn’t that great either. 

One day while shopping, she noticed a new and different store. One she had not seen before. She stepped inside and was surprised to see Jesus behind the counter. She knew it was Jesus because he looked just like the paintings she had seen in museums and in devotional books. After several glances at him, she got the nerve to ask him, “Excuse me, but are you Jesus?” 

“I am,” he replied. 

“Do you work here?” she asked. 

“In a way; I own the store.” 

“Oh, what do you sell here?” 

Jesus replied, “Just about everything.  Feel free to walk up and down the aisles, make a list, see what it is you want, and then come back and I’ll see what I can do for you.” 

Well, she did just that. She walked up and down the aisles, writing furiously. She made her list: Peace on earth, no war, guidelines for guns; Peace in families, harmony, no dissension; Food for the hungry and housing for the homeless; and Resources for those in poverty. She found honesty and hope, as well as care and compassion. She was excited to see many of the things she wanted for her community and for the world.

By the time she got back to the counter, she had an extensive list. She hands her list to Jesus. He looked it over, smiled, and said, “No problem.” 

He bent down behind the counter, picked out several seed packets, stood up, and laid the packets on the counter. 

“Seed packets,” Jesus answered. “This is a catalog store.” 

“You mean I don’t get the finished product?” 

“No, this is a place of vision and dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I will give you the seeds. You go home and plant the seeds. You care for them and nurture them to help them grow. Someday someone else will reap the benefits of you planting and nurturing the seeds.”  

The woman was disappointed, as well as a little put off. She turned to the person behind her in line and asked, “Do you believe what he just said? Are you going to do that? Are you going to plant the seeds so someone else can reap the benefits? Are you going to do that?”

Character is revealed by your leadership.  

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…”

 Who you are is how you lead!


Give God thanks for the people you met today. In what situations did you feel you were making decisions based on character? With whom was your character challenged? How did you respond? How did you assist others in developing the character of their lives? Who is helping you grow in character? What will you do differently tomorrow as a leader? Ask God to give you the faith to be the leader God has created you to be.  

As an effective leader, it is important that you know and understand who you are and what you believe. What are your values? In whom do you place your faith? If you are clear about who you are and who you trust, then you can without fear and with hope, lead with courage. 

Christ-centered leaders possess hope for a better future. They believe that God has created them and gifted them to lead, not for themselves but for others. They possess the ability to recognize and develop the potential of the people entrusted to them. And even when they have seasons of doubt, when they question themselves, their identity, and the people around them, they keep their focus upon the One who has called them to leadership.  

Courageous leaders know when to step out trusting who God created them to be. They are vulnerable and trustworthy, as well as compassionate and dependable. And even when they have their doubts, they keep their focus as a leader.

Let’s look at a story that gives us a clue to the fundamental focus of Christ-centered leaders. 

Read Luke 9:18-20 

Once when Jesus was praying by himself, the disciples joined him, and he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others that one of the ancient prophets has come back to life.” He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ sent from God.” Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. 


In the Gospel according to Luke, we see Jesus praying at particular points in his life and ministry. It was his pattern to engage in ministry and then retreat to a lonely place. It was his way of staying focused on the work God had for him to do. 

In this story, he has been off by himself praying. Then he approaches his followers and asks, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 

This story is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew, the confession is “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.” In Mark, it is “You are the Messiah” or “the Christ.” In both Mark and Matthew, Jesus begins to talk of his death and has a conversation with Simon Peter which leads to Jesus rebuking him. 

Luke’s Perspective

The focus is different in Luke. In Luke, Jesus talks of his death, but there is no conversation and no rebuke. Luke is interested in alerting us to the importance of the confession. “Once while Jesus was praying by himself” is a clue to its importance. Neither Mark nor Matthew mentions prayer. 

Jesus has been ministering in Galilee. The crowds have been following him as he has been helping people, teaching lessons, preaching sermons, healing people, and exorcising demons. He reaches the point where he asks, “What is the public opinion?” “What do people say?” Is he asking to discover how effective his ministry has been? What impression has he put across? How is he viewed in public? 

The disciples answer, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others…one of the ancient prophets…” The public opinion is, like John the Baptist, Elijah, an ancient prophet, Jesus is the forerunner of the Messiah, the Christ. The crowds who have followed Jesus, who have been benefactors of his ministry, do not think of him as the Messiah but as one getting everyone ready for the Messiah. 

So, Jesus then asks, “What about you? Who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter responds, “The Christ sent from God.” 

What does it mean to say, “Jesus is the Christ?” 

We don’t know what Simon Peter was thinking. But we do know this, when Jesus began to talk about his death, Simon Peter and the others did not relate to a suffering and dying Jesus to the Messiah. They took it as being a contradiction of who and what they understood the Messiah to be and do. If he is crucified, hanging on the cross with criminals, can he be the Messiah? 

How is he going to be like Moses and lead us out of the wilderness? How is he going to be like David and be our king? The images of the Messiah were many: a great teacher, a great prophet, a great king, or a leader. We don’t know what Simon Peter meant, but Jesus knows that Simon Peter did not understand. So, Jesus tells Simon Peter and the others to be quiet about it. “He gave them strict orders not to tell this to anyone.” Why? 

Wherever There is Misery…

The popular understanding of the day was that wherever the Messiah was there would be no misery. That is what the Messiah does, gets you out of the troubles you face. So, wherever the Messiah is, there is no misery. The truth is, wherever there is misery, there is the Messiah. See the difference? 

Jesus is not the one who gets you out of difficulty. He is the one who sends you into difficulty. Wherever there is misery, there is the Messiah. Here is a clue to Christ-centered leadership. To be a Christ-centered leader means you follow Jesus into the community and into the problems of the community.   

The question is “Is Jesus the one you expect to get you out of trouble? Or is Jesus the one who sends you into places of trouble? 

Take Up Your Cross Daily

Maybe this will help. Jesus, in his teaching, says, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.” This teaching is found in Mark and Matthew as well, but Luke adds the word “daily.” He is reinterpreting the teaching for his own context. 

In both Mark and Luke, the cost of discipleship is the same: your whole life. But in Mark, written just after Nero’s persecution of Christians in Rome, where Christians had been killed and Simon Peter himself had been crucified, “taking up one’s cross” was understood literally as the cost of discipleship. 

For Luke, there is no direct persecution. By adding “daily” to “take up your cross,” Luke is saying the cost of discipleship is not seen in one dramatic act. The cost of discipleship is experienced in simple acts of service, care, and compassion as each situation presents itself. Christ-centered leaders are not called to positions of power but to postures of service. 

So, faith in the risen Christ keeps you focused as you lead into and through conflict, misery, and pain.   


Until you know who you are and who you trust you will not be the leader needed for this time. Your faith in the risen Christ makes a significant difference in your leadership. It is experienced in your relationships and interaction with others. It is experienced in your trustworthiness, compassion, stability, and hope. 

Leadership is About People

Leadership is about people. It is about influencing and impacting lives in a positive way. To be an effective leader, you need to have a genuine desire to serve others, along with the ability to model and prioritize the needs of others before yourself. In whatever leadership capacity you serve, the needs and well-being of the people entrusted to you are your greatest concern. 

Compassionate and responsible leaders put people first above their own selfish ambitions and desires. They love and care for others with the same love and care they have received in and through Jesus. How you treat people is a reflection of your leadership. 

Leadership is Relational

Leadership is about relationships. Take time to know the people entrusted to you. Make time and effort to care for people, to know what matters to them, and be present with them. It is in and through relationships that you discover the potential of others and assist in helping that potential be fully realized.   

The scripture points out that Jesus reverses our expectations of who and what the Messiah should be. Your faith in Jesus reverses the conventional understanding of who you are and who you trust as a leader. Maybe it is time to stop looking for the perfect approach to leadership and begin to develop the relationships that reveal who you trust to direct your living and leadership. 

Your confession is more than words. It is how you live and lead in relationship with the people entrusted to your care. 

Lead with Authenticity

Leadership is about authenticity. Courageous leaders are honest, transparent, and truthful with their people. It does not mean you tell everything you know, but it does mean knowing when to say, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure. Such action might make you feel vulnerable, but the strength is in your truthfulness. 

Stable and hope-filled leaders live consistent lives. You walk the talk. What you know and believe on the inside is lived out on the outside. It does not take people long to experience the values and convictions of a leader. 

So, live an integrated life. The same one whether you are in a board meeting with church members, or at home with your family. If you are a follower of Jesus, then Jesus directs your leadership regardless of the context. It is your faith in Jesus that keeps you accountable. 

Lead with Purpose

Leadership is about purpose. Effective leaders know they are created to lead within the context they are leading. It is living into who they are that brings peace, joy, and fulfillment. Because you know you are being who God created you to be, you know that everything is not measured through immediate and tangible outcomes. You know that you must work patiently behind the scenes, laying the foundation for people to live to their potential. 

Because your relationship with God is real, you fix your eyes on eternal things that matter, the lives of people. This is the ultimate purpose of your leadership. 

Leaders are Generous

Leadership is about being generous. Everyone is a work in progress. Effective leaders seek support and encouragement along their leadership journey. They recognize that leadership development does not happen at a single training event, or by reading leadership blogs. They understand that it takes a community of faith to assist good leaders in becoming great leaders. For most of us it takes a lifetime. 

Your faith in the risen Christ makes a significant difference in your leadership. Who you are is how you lead. 


Give God thanks for the people you met today. Faith in God through Jesus is important to your leadership. How did you live out your faith? How did you encourage others to live their faith? Who is helping you grow in faith?  Ask God to give you the power to love others as God has loved you. What will you do differently tomorrow as a leader? Ask God to give you the faith to be the leader God has created you to be.  

How will you lead this year? As a Christ-centered leader, you have the opportunity and responsibility to recognize potential in people and then assist them in developing that potential for the good of others. In a way, leadership is about teaching and training others to do be your replacement.   

Too often we think of others as competition. Because you are not secure in who you are a beloved child of God, you might try to elevate yourself and diminish the impact of others. Brené Brown defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential. Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage.” 

Leader Development

So, how will you lead this year? Stephen Covey, wrote, “…most people’s “to-do” lists fall under the realm of urgent but not genuinely important duties.” Your work as a leader is not to develop “to-do” lists for yourself or for others. Your work is to develop the potential of people with whom you have responsibility. 

The Sermon on the Mount, and more specifically the Beatitudes, is an example of leader development. Jesus teaches and trains his followers to do greater things than he had done, so he begins with the development of the inner life. Who you are is how you lead. 

Use the pattern of Read, Reflect, Respond, Return as a tool to assist you in learning a way to assist others in living into their potential and becoming the leaders God created them to be. 

Read Matthew 5:1-12 

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he began to speak and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most evangelistic sermons ever preached. To evangelize means to teach, share, and preach the good news of Jesus. When Jesus is evangelized, people are faced, not with good news about him but, with Jesus himself. The Beatitudes are part of that good news. 

The Good News in Matthew

Matthew presents that good news as “God sent Jesus to teach us how to live a holy or righteous life.” He understood a holy and righteous life to be a life lived in relationship with God and with others. It was a life lived by working for the good of all people. 

So, Matthew is helping us understand that Jesus is teaching us what it means to be righteous. He starts with a blessed life. The word “blessed” as used in the Beatitudes, essentially means to be in a relationship with God and God’s people to the extent you become who God has created you to be.   

It is to have the deep security that comes from loving and being loved. On one level is closely related to the Hebrew word, “shalom.” It brings wholeness, joy, well-being, and peace. On another level, it means to have the deep soul-satisfying experience of being in a fellowship of people who help you become who God created you to be. It is in relationships with others that you experience wholeness, joy, well-being, and peace. 


To be “blessed” is much deeper than being fortunate, happy, or given an advantage as we think about it today. For more regarding the word blessed see LeaderCast Episode 263.

When we read the beatitudes as a whole, we discover that the great blessing is to be sons and daughters of God. It is in our relationship with God that places us in the beloved community, the society of sinners saved by grace. You are a beloved child of God in community with other children of God. They describe what it means to be a part of the kingdom of heaven or God’s new order. This new order is not to escape this world, but to be God’s children in this world. 

Good News in the Gospels

It is helpful to think of it this way. In the third chapter of the gospel of John we read what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:3) or born anew. John describes the new birth or being born from above as the way to eternal life or to the quality of life lived in relationship to God.   

For Matthew, the beatitudes describe the same quality of life lived with God. In John’s Gospel, to be born anew was to become who God created you to be. For Matthew, the blessed life is to become who God created you to be. 

Although John doesn’t use the beatitudes, and Matthew doesn’t use being born anew or born again, they are both naming the same quality relationship with God. There are not two different requirements. Both accounts of the good news of God’s love in Jesus agree that being a beloved child of God is a basic requirement for membership in God’s new order. Whether you call it beatitudes or birth, the result is the same. 

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are a reality to be enjoyed here and now.  Too often we think of them as something to achieve and if we work hard enough we will be blessed. No, because you are becoming who God created you to be you are blessed in your humility, you are blessed in your actions of mourning, you are blessed in your focus, you are blessed in your relationships, etc. 

So, to be blessed is not a pious hope for the future, it is to celebrate who you are becoming as a child of God today. 

Being Blessed in Leadership

Here is where the beatitudes come in regarding you being a Christ-centered leader. Remember, a leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential. Leadership is not about titles or positions. It is about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. (Brené Brown). 

As a Christ-centered leader, as you grow more and more in this blessed life, you are helping others experience the blessed life. Your leadership is a blessing. Who you are is how you lead. 

Blessed are you when you recognize the blessedness of others and help them become more who God created them to be. 

To learn more about the Beatitudes listen to LeaderCast episodes 262 to 267. Explore the episodes here.


Florence Littauer has written over thirteen books and helped others write books as well. At one of her seminars, she stood on stage with twenty-six other authors, each of whom she had helped to write their own books.  She stood there will all those authors and said, “If you think I am proudest of my books, you are wrong.  I am most proud of the people I have helped to become writers themselves.” She did not define her success in terms of her products but in terms of the people who she had trained. If she had been an insecure author, she might have tried to lessen the competition. In her blessedness, she was training her replacements. 

Blessed are you when you recognize the blessedness of others and help them become more who God created them to be. 


Give God thanks for the people you met today. How were you living into your blessedness? How did you assist others in living into their blessedness? Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to love others as you have been loved.


Blessed are you, O God, creator of the universe and giver of good gifts to your children. I am grateful for the blessed life into which you are leading me. By your grace, give the courage and grace to lead others into a blessed life. As one of your beloved children, help me become more of the leader you need at this point and time in history. I offer who I am to you in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

How will you lead this year? As a Christ-centered leader, you have the opportunity and responsibility to recognize potential in people and then assist them in developing that potential for the good of others. Who or what will make the difference in your leadership?   

Too often, we think we can lead through our own power or skill. We have convinced ourselves that if we know just a little more, read the right books, or attend the right seminars we will be equipped to lead. How has that been working for you? 

On the other hand, without thinking about it, we assume we will know what to do when we need to do it.  After all we trust God to give us what we need but being passive and not responding to God’s gifts of time and relationships have not served us well as leaders. 

Think about it for a moment. What one essential relationship or partnership do you have that equips you and empowers you as a leader? 

Use the pattern of Read, Reflect, Respond, Return as a tool to assist you in rediscovering the partnership you most need in being the leader God created you to be. 

Read Matthew 17:14-20 

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has epilepsy and suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” 


This story follows the glory of Christ on the mountain (story of the transfiguration). The struggle and failure of the followers of Jesus are in direct contrast to the mountaintop experience. 

On the mountain, Jesus’ commission is reconfirmed as he begins to instruct his followers on the meaning and cost of following him. Although they have been given power and authority, they are frustrated by their failure to heal the boy or cast out the demon. The work in the mundane world in the valley is not as glorious as the experience on the mountain. 

Being and Doing

The primary focus of this story is the relationship between the power of Jesus and the experience of his followers. It is seen in their question in verse nineteen, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” In this story, there is a difference between spiritual exhilaration and the experience of everyday service, but it does not have to be that way. 

The mountaintop experience can and should be seen in every act of love and kindness extended in every situation and circumstance. In other words, there is a partnership between being and doing, between the power of God and our response to God’s grace.

Why Can’t We Stop It?

One of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr’s sermons is, “The Answer to a Perplexing Question” based on Matthew 17:19, “Why couldn’t we cast him out?” In the sermon, King points out that the problem that has always troubled us as human beings is our inability to conquer evil by our own power.  He points out we ask in pathetic amazement “Why can’t we get rid of evil or remove evil from our lives and the world in which we live?” 

We can ask that question regarding the violence we continue to experience. “Why can’t we stop it?”

We try, in our own ways, to stop it. Why can’t we stop the violence? We can ask that question regarding the injustice and inequality in which we participate. We try, through sermons and studies, to stop it. “Why can’t we stop it?” 

Why Can’t I…?

You know you can ask that question regarding your desire to lead courageously and effectively. “Why can’t I lead the way I want to lead? On your own, often in isolation, you try. Why can’t you lead with courage? 

King says we have usually pursued two paths to eliminate evil and to save the world.  We can say the same for violence, injustice, inequality, and for courageous leadership. 

The first path is to try to do everything on our own power and resourcefulness. It is a strange conviction that by thinking, inventing, and governing, we will conquer the “nagging forces of evil” or become effective Christ-centered leaders. 

The second path is to submissively wait for God to act on our behalf. We trust God to give us what we need, so we wait passively (and irresponsibly) for God to do something. It is another strange conviction to just “let go and let God” when God has equipped us to respond in faith trusting the gifts and talents we have been given.   

Living the Answer

King asks, “What then is the answer to life’s perplexing question? If the world is not to be purified by God alone nor by us alone, who will do it?” If we want to move beyond the rhetoric of simply asking the perplexing question to live the answer perhaps, we need to pursue a third way. 

King answers the question. He says the answer is found in an idea that is distinctly different from the two paths above. Neither God nor humanity will individually bring about the world’s salvation. He says it will take a partnership between God and humanity. 

Leading Through Partnership

Here is the key to leading through partnership. When we and God are one in unity of purpose there is a power to lead with courage. When the overflowing love of God and the perfect trust and obedience of each of us as human beings, there can be and will be a transformation of the old into the new. It is in and through this partnership we can “drive out the deadly cancer of sin.” 

Faith in Jesus opens the door for God to work through us. The followers of Jesus lacked faith when they desperately tried to remove evil from the body of the sick child (Matthew 17:14-23). Jesus points out what might seem obvious: they had been attempting to do by themselves what could only be done with God. 

When your life is an open receptacle for God’s love and grace to enter, you become the person, the leader, and the change agent you were created to be. It is God’s gift of faith that leads you into a life-changing and leader-empowering partnership with God. The one partnership that is needed for you to become the leader God has created you to be. 


Think about it for a moment.  How is your relationship, your partnership, with Jesus? You can be the leader God created you to be, but you cannot do it alone. You cannot become the leader needed today by mere resolution or by waiting on God to do it for you. To enter a partnership with Jesus, surrender yourself and become an instrument of God’s love, grace, and peace. 

Think of it this way, your family and friends, your church, and all of creation are waiting on you to open the door and to enter the partnership God is offering through Jesus. Even today, your church and your community are waiting on you to answer the invitation:                                                                                               

“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you and eat with you, and you with me.” Revelation 3:20 


Give God thanks for the people you met today. How were you in partnership with Jesus? How were you in partnership with others who connected you to Jesus? Who did you invite to be in partnership with Jesus? Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to love others as you have been loved.


Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness. Joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

-Francis of Assisi

Are you aware of the words you use in your everyday relationships? In your leadership? In our world today, we do not give much thought or attention to the words we speak, whether in public speaking, in personal relationships, or on social media. Words are powerful. It is important to understand why you use the words you use. 

Words are so important that Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, wrote about the use of words while teaching about new life in Christ. 

Read Ephesians 4:29

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths but only what is good for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear (NRSV)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift (The Message).


This scripture is part of Paul’s letter to the newly formed Ephesian church. He is writing to a diverse church where there is a clashing of values. There were Jews who had a deep ethical background. They were people who lived with deep religious and traditional values. There were Gentiles who had a different worldview and a different set of values. 

Paul is teaching about the new life in Christ, a life where Jews and Gentiles can live together in mutual respect and relationship. His teaching is grounded in love which goes beyond emotion. It is “agape,” the love that works for the good and well-being of all persons, friends, family, strangers, and even enemies. His teaching will become part of the values of the Christian faith. 

Old Life and New Life

I can imagine when the two sets of values clashed and created tension within the church. So, Paul, using the imagery of old life and new life, is teaching both the Jews and Gentiles what it means to be followers of Jesus. 

After writing in verse 25: “…putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors,” Paul writes, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths but only what is good for building up as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (NRSV). The Good News Bible translates it this way, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (TEV) 

No matter how it is written, Paul is instructing followers of Jesus, in a time of conflict, how to speak to one another. When you open your mouth, do not be nasty or malicious. Don’t belittle or be disrespectful. Don’t vilify those with whom you disagree. Say only what is useful for building up as there is a need so that your words may give grace to those who hear. The teaching is similar to Jesus saying, “it is not what goes in but what comes out that defiles…” 

In other words, your words reflect your relationship with Jesus as well as express who you are as a person and as a leader. Who you are is how you lead. 

The Power of the Spoken Word

Are you familiar with the cartoon B.C.? There are two characters: A woman who carries a big stick and a snake. In one cartoon, no matter what the situation, the woman uses the stick to beat the snake. 

One day, as she is walking up one side of a hill, the snake is coming up the other side of the hill. They meet at the top. At that moment, the woman realizes that she does not have her stick. So, she looks at the snake and says, “Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!” 

In the next frame, the snake is lying on the ground in a hundred pieces. The caption reads, “Oh the power of the spoken word.” 

Words are Powerful

Words are powerful. They create images and assumptions. They shape the way you and I view one another and the world. You can use your words to encourage, build up, discourage, and tear down. Words feed prejudices, cultivate relationships, and set the course for decision-making. 

At this very moment, in the United Methodist Church, there are a plethora of words that have given birth to disillusionment and disappointment. Most of them shape viewpoints, creating fear, anger, and defeat. But there are other words being spoken and written that are offering encouragement and hope. 

Your Words Make a Difference

So, as a leader, your words make a difference. “…no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. (The Message) 

When you stand to preach or to address a group of people, use words that encourage and support, words that do good to the people who hear them. Put away general characterizations, innuendo, and inference. 

Check your references before you speak. Also, check your motive for speaking. If it is anything other than to bring God glory or to introduce people to Jesus, put it away. Your agenda is to be the leader that models the love and care of the living God for all persons. There is no place for anything other than the good news of God’s love experienced in and through Jesus. Your words reveal your agenda. 

Speaking to Others

When you are speaking of others, use words that encourage and support, words that do good to the people who hear them. Put away gossip. Share only information you have checked out personally, and don’t share harmful or hurtful words. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Speak out of your integrity. Your words reflect who you are. 

When you are speaking to others, be generous. Being aware of your own thoughts and feeling will help you speak the words that give care and encouragement to others. Keep in mind that when you are hurting you hurt others. So, care for yourself and be aware of when you are projecting your pain upon others. 

Speak to others the way you want them to speak to you. Offer support and praise even in difficult situations. Keep in mind that people are doing the best they can. Give them the benefit of the doubt and offer words of support, praise, and encouragement. Put your words of care and support into action. 

Words in Social Space

When it comes to social media, keep in mind what has been said above. Your self-awareness is even more critical regarding your words on social media. Treat others with the same respect you want for yourself. Keep in mind that it is easier to put words on a screen than it is to speak them face to face.

Because people do not see your face or hear the inflection of your voice, your words can be misunderstood. So, take advantage of the opportunity to develop and maintain relationships with your words, whether spoken or written. Your social media presence reveals more about you than you might want to reveal. Remember, even on social media, who you are is how you lead. 

Kind, Caring, Encouraging Words

Paul, writing to a church under stress and in the midst of conflict, says to use kind, caring, encouraging words of truth. So, be a courageous leader. Step up and speak words of truth with care and understanding. Be the leader who uses helpful words to build up those who hear them. 

Although she is writing about more than words, Brene Brown writes, “In times of uncertainty, it is common for leaders to leverage fear and weaponize it to their advantage…If you can keep people afraid and give them an enemy who is responsible for their fear, you can get people to do just about anything.”

Consider for a moment: How have your words created fear? How are you creating time and space for safe conversations? 

Brown also says, “…when we are managing during times of scarcity or deep uncertainty, it is imperative that we embrace the uncertainty…We need to be available to fact-check the stories that team members may be making up, because in scarcity we invent worse case scenarios.” Consider for a moment: Are you making up what you don’t know? How are you helping lower the levels of anxiety with your words? 

Right or Righteous?

In times like these, you do not have to be right, but you do need to be righteous. Not self-righteous but holy as God is holy. If you are unsure about God’s holiness, look at Jesus. In Jesus, you will find God’s encouraging Word made flesh. You will find the embodiment of God’s holiness and love. 

Remember, it is Jesus who said, “it is not what goes in but what comes out that defiles…” As a leader, take the time to allow God’s Word, Jesus, to take up residence in your life. When you do, it will be Jesus, God’s love, and care, that comes out. 

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that builds up and provides what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (Ephesians 4:29 TEV) 


O God, I am grateful for your Word, both written in the scripture and made flesh in Jesus. Put your Word so deep in my heart that I am shaped into the person and leader you created and need me to be. May Jesus be so real in my life that all I say and do brings you glory and encourages and supports the people around me. May the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. I offer myself to you in the name of Your Word, Jesus. Amen 


At the end of the day, give God thanks for the people you encountered today. Then, turn to these questions:

  • In and through whom did you encounter God? 
  • In what situations did you find yourself using hurtful or harmful words? 
  • In what situations did you find yourself using helpful words of encouragement and care? 

Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to learn more about yourself and the words you use. Now ask God to empower you to love others through the words you speak in every situation and circumstance of your life. And be reminded that your leadership is only as good as your word. 

What comes to mind when you hear or read the word “grace”? Is it approval or acceptance like “he stayed in their good graces”? Or a temporary reprieve like “it was only by the grace of God?” Do you think of ease and coordination like “she moved with grace?” My assumption is the first thing that comes to mind is the “unmerited acceptance of God.” 

Leading with Grace

Whatever comes to mind, the word “grace” is used in multiple ways. It is the same with leading with grace. Some leaders of grace are described as charismatic. A charismatic leader is a person who has been graced with gifts and talents to lead. They are called spirit filled and are experienced as winsome, inviting, and exciting. 

But too often, the focus is upon themselves, not because they are charismatic, but because they become the mission. Unhealthy characteristics are often overlooked or managed to keep the leader in place. 

Misunderstanding Grace

Sometimes leading with grace is described as “people pleasing.” Now that sounds negative, but when a person who has the desire to lead has no healthy understanding of who they are relationally or spiritually, he or she becomes a leader of “anything goes.” They want people to like them, so they say “yes” to everything. There are few boundaries, if any, and mission and direction have little influence. Often the leader is mistakenly identified as leading with grace. 

Sometimes leading with grace is identified as soft or weak because the leader is not seen as strong or decisive. There is indirect communication and passive-aggressive behavior. Collaboration and strategic thinking are sparce. There is poor time management and no conflict transformation skills. The leader is a lone ranger and is often isolated, surrounded by people who like being related to the leader. 

The above scenarios are negative because most of the images of leading with grace are negative. For example, take the time in which you are leading today. There are people, who in the absence of true information, are making up their own stories and communicating false information. They have an agenda, and they are using fear to get what they want. Who they are as Jesus followers and what they are saying do not align, yet they are considered good leaders. Without going to the source to check out what they are being told, they make up what they do not know. It is a matter of self-protection. 

Grace-Shaped Leadership Characteristics 

So, what does this have to do with grace-shaped leadership? Leadership is about taking the responsibility for finding the potential in people and then having the courage to develop that potential. There are many characteristics of good, impactful, and courageous leaders. One characteristic often overlooked and misunderstood is grace. 

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of grace-shaped leaders and why those characteristics make a difference. Grace-shaped leaders are: 


When you are generous you work with the assumption that people are doing the best they can. You give them the benefit of the doubt, offering support with praise and encouragement. 

Brene Brown, in her book Rising Strong, defines generosity as the ability to “extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.”  Being generous is not easy and does not come naturally. When faced with a leadership challenge, choose to be generous. 

Start with yourself. Assume the people with whom you work want the best for you. Then, with that assumption, you can respond with grace before jumping to negative conclusions. Regardless of the situation or circumstances, people need kind, caring, and encouraging words and action to become who God created them to be. 

So, as a grace shaped leader, lead by doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. Be generous with your assumptions and offer support with praise and encouragement. 


You are created for relationships, for up close interaction with people. The way to lead is not by more rules but through right relationships. In a time when people are losing being with one another, you can lead people into the right relationship with each other. 

Mother Teresa once said, “The worst disease I’ve ever seen is loneliness.” As trite as it might seem, it is true, people need people. You and I need each other. The value of relationships is immeasurable. 

The theme in Matthew’s gospel is “God sent Jesus to teach us how to live righteous lives.” Righteousness in Matthew’s gospel is not presented as principles and propositions. It is presented as living in relationship with family, friends, strangers, even enemies. Relationships are foundational to right living. As a Jesus follower, your faithfulness is seen in how well you love others, especially the people entrusted to your care. 

So, as a grace-shaped leader, give your all to relationships. Embrace the fact that you are intimately connected to the people you meet each day. Develop relationships by following and living Jesus. Jesus will put you into right relationship with everyone you encounter along the way. Choose to be honest and open. Be a person of integrity. Love others as God in Christ Jesus as loved you. 


When you are authentic you are true to yourself. You are a person of integrity. Regardless of the pressure you are facing, your values, ideals, and actions align. In other words, people experience your authenticity in your vulnerability and honesty. 

As a leader, your authenticity opens a way for compassion. When you give yourself wholeheartedly to living and loving, you reveal who you truly are. Even when it is hard, it is your authenticity that invites grace, joy, and gratitude into your life and in the lives of the people entrusted to your care. 

Brene Brown, in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, writes: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.”

She continues with, “Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving—even when it is hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.” 

So, as a grace-shaped leader, lead with courage knowing that you are worthy of love and acceptance just as you are. With that kind of authenticity, you are able to be open and honest as you invite more grace, gratitude, and joy into your leadership. 


True courage comes when you decide to take a risk without knowing the outcomes. It means showing up and letting yourself be seen despite the risk. (Bene Brown)

Brene Brown, in her book Rising Strong, writes, “I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage. A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable.” 

Too often we think of courage as a valuable strength and vulnerability as a shameful weakness, but you can’t have courage without becoming vulnerable. Courage and vulnerability go hand-in-hand in grace-shaped leadership. As a leader, you show courage when you are curious because you are risking uncertainty. You show courage with compassion because it involves learning to move toward what scares you, learning to care for those with whom you disagree, and becoming vulnerable even when you know there is pain. 

It takes courage to be quick to listen and slow to speak, to be slow to anger, and to use kind, caring, and encouraging words even with those for whom you do not care. It takes courage to be Christian in a non-Christian environment. 


When you are empathetic you are able to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another person. Developing empathy is crucial for establishing relationships, behaving compassionately, and leading courageously. It involves experiencing another person’s point of view, rather than just your own. 

There is no right or wrong way to be empathetic. It is simply listening for the sake of connecting and communicating the message, “I’m with you. You are not alone.” Even though there are no right or wrong ways to be empathetic, there are some simple exercises for increasing your empathy:  

Talk to new people. Along with trying to imagine how some people feel, try asking them how they feel. Start a conversation with a stranger or invite a colleague or neighbor you do not know well to lunch. Go beyond small talk and ask them how they are doing. Put away your phone when you are having conversations. Even with the people you see every day. Listen fully and notice facial expressions and gestures.

Walk in someone else’s shoes. Spend time in a new neighborhood. Not only serve a meal with someone who is hungry but sit down and engage in conversation. Make time to attend a church, mosque, or synagogue to experience God from an unfamiliar perspective.

Share an experience with another person. Work on a service project together. Volunteer to serve meals together, to work on community garden, or join others who have experienced something similar.

The World Needs Grace-Shaped Leaders

Grace-shaped leadership is needed today more than any other time in my ministry. We have leaders who are seen as competent and impactful. My question is, are you shaped by grace in who you are as a leader. Grace is not a concept to be studied. It is a dynamic way of making a difference in the lives of the people you lead every day. We need grace-shaped leaders in a time when good, impactful, and courageous leadership is in high demand.

This week, look at who you are as a follower of Jesus and then measure your leadership with grace. How are you being led by grace? How are you leading by grace? Your honest answers to these questions will truly reveal “who you are is how you lead.”

Want to explore the above characteristics in more depth? Reach out and learn more about Dare to Lead.

Followers look for different qualities in their leaders. A recent Gallup Poll revealed that one of the top qualities followers look for is hope. Although there are people who perceive hope as passive and as wishful thinking, you instill hope when you understand the reality of the present, can imagine a better future, and live and work to make the future a reality.

When you are hopeless about the future, there is no reason to change your behavior. When you are hopeful about the future, you take the initiative to make a difference, as you shape the future and influence the people you lead. 

Hope is essential to leadership. Dr. Shane Lopez, of Gallup, spent his life studying hope. He wrote, “Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.” 

Passive Hope 

When you see hope as wishful thinking, you wait for external forces to shape your future. Even with wishful thinking, you can see a better future, but you don’t believe you have the power to influence situations or people to achieve that future. When hope is passive, people look for “leaders” who will fix their problems. They sometimes complain about their leaders who aren’t delivering on the vision of a better future.

Leadership is about identifying potential in people and actively assisting them to live into their potential. Passive hope blocks that behavior. You aren’t a leader when you are waiting for someone else to show up and make things happen. 

Active Hope 

When you understand hope as active, you become a participant in bringing about that for which you hope. You need active hope to be the leader needed today. Active hope is something you do rather than something you have. 

It is about knowing what you want to happen and working to get there. For example, my wife, Kim, and I grow daylilies in our flower garden. Every spring we anticipate the lilies blooming. We watch as the green leaves begin to form, push their way up out of the ground, and blooms burst open. 

Because lilies and weeds grow together, I weed the garden on a regular basis. Although most of my work depends on how fast the weeds grow, there are times I must remove dead leaves from the plants. In fact, this year, because the lilies were not blooming, I cut them back so they could produce new growth. 

Kim and I are enjoying our lilies in full bloom. For the lilies to grow and bloom, I must be active in caring for them. I must show up throughout the growing months and weed the garden, even though I know more weeds will be there tomorrow. 

My blooming lilies are an example of active hope. 

Active Hope in Action

Think about it this way: 

First, know your current reality. 

Hope is rooted in the reality of your situation. Anchor yourself in that reality. Face it, name it, and acknowledge it. Where you start makes a difference. So, start where you are with what you have, not where you aspire to be or with what you aspire to have. 

Kim and I had an area of our yard, in front of the porch, where we wanted flowers. So, we started with that area. It was bare, covered only with dirt and random weeds. It had not been cultivated to grow flowers. But that was our current reality. We could have done nothing. We could have said, “I hope grass grows there someday.” But we didn’t. Instead, we started where we were with a bare, random weed and dirt-covered area. Honestly, it did not look like much would ever grow there. But that area is where we started. 

Second, identify what you desire to happen. 

Hold that vision/mission before you and the people whom you are leading. Keep your values in mind and imagine what “being better” would look like for yourself and others. This sets the direction in which you lead. 

Kim and I decided we wanted flowers to grow in the uncultivated area. So, we began to imagine what the area could look like with daylilies. We identified what we wanted to happen, which set the direction we needed to move. Again, we could have done nothing. We could have said, “It would look nice to have daylilies in the area.” But we didn’t. Instead, we began to imagine what that bare random weed area could become. It was that image we set out to make a reality. 

Third, begin to move in that direction. 

In other words, you show up and act in a way that is aligned with the future you want to happen. You navigate the obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of your goal. Active hope does not require your optimism, it requires your resolve. You choose what you want to achieve. Rather than weighing your chances and proceeding only when you feel hopeful, you focus on your goal/mission and let it be your guide. 

Kim and I knew that to make our daylilies a reality, we had to buy daylilies. But before that, we had to cultivate the ground. Even before that, we had to have the tools to cultivate the ground. So, to make our vision a reality, we had to have a shovel, a rake, and other garden tools. We had to break up the ground, remove the rocks, pull the weeds, and make the ground ready for daylilies. As we moved forward, we adjusted our vision. We decided the lilies would do better if surrounded by rock as opposed to mulch. So, we bought our lilies, planted them, surrounded them with rock, and watched as green leaves began to form, push their way up out of the ground, and bloom. 

We made our desire a vision and our vision a reality. That is active hope. It invites you to make something happen, even if it doesn’t exist at the moment. 

Hope Shaped Leadership

Hope-shaped leadership has a realistic understanding of reality and a clear vision of the future. Hope is experienced in your behavior to make the vision a reality. It is about showing up and behaving as if what you do matters, not only to you but also matters to the people entrusted to your care. When you lead through the challenges and obstacles with your future in sight, you not only practice leadership, but you also offer hope…a real and active hope. 

Who You Are is How You Lead

One other thing that is critically important regarding hope-shaped leadership. Who you are is how you lead. Whether you like it or not, people are watching you and they take their cues from you. They are listening to your words, they are watching your behavior, and they are observing your relationships. They follow your lead. As the leader, you paint the picture of the future. If you are negative and manipulative, don’t be surprised when the people around you become negative and do not trust you or others. You might get what you want for the immediate future, but the culture you have created will not be one of hope and productivity.

Who you are is how you lead. So, as a leader, when you are hopeful, you help people see a path that leads to a better future. Even though there are challenges and distractions, your words and actions fill the hearts and minds of the people around you with possibilities of healthiness and wholeness. 

Impact of Hope Shaped Leadership

Finally, hope-shaped leadership makes an impact. Here are five ways hope-shaped leadership makes an impact.

Renews Faith 

Hope allows you to become more of the person you were created to be. As you grow in faith, the people around you renew their faith as well. With renewed faith, hope introduces you to a path of new beginnings and to solutions you never knew existed. 

Builds Confidence

Hope helps you build your self-confidence. As you grow in confidence, you assist others in living into their potential. They begin to achieve things they never knew were possible. With the confidence to face the future, you know you can face your fears and move forward. You have the confidence to know that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Promotes Clarity

Hope broadens your perspective and gives you the vision to see around, beneath, and beyond the goals you seek. It allows you to translate complexity into clarity. When you begin to see through a wider lens, you begin to see the potential of the people around you and it fuels your perspective. Clarity assists you in modeling vulnerability and authenticity.

Gives purpose

Hope helps navigate all obstacles that stand between you and your purpose in life. You find a way to get things done. Living into your purpose gives others the hope to live into their purpose. The truth is hope is an ultimate life changer. It keeps you and the people around you moving toward dreams, goals, and aspirations.

Strengthens relationships

Hope is a force that brings people together. It instills a sense of unity, pride, and optimism. It builds trust. When people can trust you as their leader and you can trust them as your partners, relationships are strengthened, and everyone becomes more who God created them to be.

Hope-shaped leadership is about making a difference in the lives of the people entrusted to your care. “If, as a leader, you are not creating hope and helping people see the way forward, chances are, no one else is either.” (From Strengths Based Leadership) As a hope-shaped leader, you must keep your eyes, and the eyes of the people entrusted to you, on a hopeful future. 

Hope is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.” 

Who you are is how you lead.