Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was born to parents who did not love each other. Her father was driven to get ahead. She longed to know her father loved her, but he was seldom home. She and her mother did not connect emotionally either. As she grew up, the girl felt that she could never be good enough to love.
Divorce, dysfunction, pain, and confusion entered the scene. Depression became a constant companion; however, the girl learned to cover it up by excelling in academics and the arts. She was compelled to discover true love, but relationships always disappointed and fell short.
As a teenager, the young woman heard the good news of God’s love. She realized for the first time that the love she longed for did not originate from human beings. True love flowed directly from the Lord and was offered to her. She opened her heart to the loving Savior and started an amazing journey with Jesus Christ.
I was that young woman. Thirty-five years later I continue to be on a mission to understand the love of God and to share His love with others.
The love of God is so vast. The longer I walk with Him, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn. The need to grow in love shows up most in my relationships with others.
How convenient it would be to place love for God and love for others in separate arenas. After all, loving God seems simple. I can do that well enough. Loving others, not so much. People can be annoying. They can cause difficulties and disruptions. Nothing can inflict heartache like people. But Jesus taught that the two are intertwined. When asked to identify the greatest commandment by the religious leaders of the day, Jesus answered:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38).
Without giving pause, he continued…
And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:39).
Jesus said that every Old Testament law (613 of them) and all the teachings of the Prophets hinged on love for God and others.
What does that mean for us as we answer God’s call to leadership?
We must seek intimacy with Jesus and rely on His Spirit to be a leader of impact. Guard against “professional” Christianity, merely following the proper routines and giving religious answers. It is imperative to continually invest in our relationship with Jesus and commune with Him, being willing to be transformed into His likeness.
As servant leaders, love of our followers is our primary concern. When leading, there are many important things to tend to. However, don’t allow tasks and goals to become more important than the well being of the people you lead.
The ability to thrive in life and leadership comes from loving God and people. There is simply no other way. There are no short cuts to love.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).
Heavenly Father, I acknowledge You as the Lord of love. Help me to love You with all my heart, soul, and mind. Help me to love others as myself. I am powerless to love without You. With You, I have what I need to be Your ambassador and love the people You place in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.