Love The People You Lead

Incorporating Jesus’ two Greatest Commands into your leadership

by Mark Dean

[4 minute read]


Being a leader is a position of trust. You might be trusted with an organisation, a ministry, a classroom or a department. You might be trusted with a task, executing a plan or moving a vision forward. But what trumps all of that is that God is trusting you to love the people you lead. As Christian leaders, we serve a relational God whose heartbeat is for people and who, when asked what the greatest commandment was answered with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind....And Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,39)

I’m a worship pastor. I clearly remember a moment, a number of years ago standing on the stage in my church, looking out over the congregation and having an awareness that God had trusted me with these people; to lead them in worship to Him, to show them something of who He is and help them respond to Him. I remember being conscious of the fact that behind every face (many I didn’t know) was a personal story and life circumstances. If I was going to serve them and lead them well, I needed to get a heart for these people, the same heart that God had for them. That God had given me stewardship over this time, this community and these individuals so I needed to ask God for His plans for our time together. God was calling me to love the people I lead.

When you think about it, it’s so clear, right? God is love (1 Jn 4:8), God loves us (Jn 3:16) and God calls us to love those around us (Mt 22:38). I believe that when you peel away all the skills, the study, the conferences and books and consider love as the leadership platform, not only will your organisation win, but you and the people who you lead will be united towards each other and the vision (Col 3:14).

Leadership, whether on stage, behind the scenes, in a board room or in a small group of kids sitting in a circle is more than simply getting the job done, setting direction or mobilising a strategy. God has entrusted a group of people to you and Jesus’ greatest command to us is to love them. In fact, Jesus considered being marked by love so central to His people that He declared to his disciples that love was the way that the world would know that they were His disciples.

So, how do you love the people you lead?

As a team leader, I make sure to get into the world of the staff and volunteers I lead. It’s about more than the job I need them to do or the task I require them to complete.

In prayerful consultation with the Holy Spirit I make sure to:

Care for the person more than the role they fill. I’ve found when I dig a little deeper and try to understand the person sitting before me instead of just their role, I’m able to shape the tasks, roles and the feedback that I give in the moment and over the long term.

Love the person more than their gift. When I love who God has made someone to be more than the gift they have I’m able to call more and more potential out of them and am often surprised by abilities that were hiding deep inside waiting to be encouraged out.

Pray for them. I make an effort to pray for them more than pray about them, in doing so, I’m opening my heart to compassion and excitement for the seasons they walk through.

As a worship leader I prepare myself to love the people I lead by standing on the platform and praying for “Esther” who I see walk in late most weeks and seems to be struggling as a single mum; or lifting up “John” who is battling with anger issues and loneliness after a relationship breakdown; or interceding for “Sarah” who has mental health struggles and has just been laid off from her work. In all of this, I’m asking: How can I lead them to you God? What do I know about you God that can lift their eyes this week? How can I get them to see you God in whatever circumstance they are in?

We have so much to think about when we realise how much God has entrusted us with as leaders. But, Jesus really breaks it down for us when he says simply, “Love God and Love People.” Are you really loving the people you lead? How can you do this more?