A while back, as I was browsing through my LinkedIn timeline, I came cross this quote from leadership expert John Maxwell:
“Needless to say, you can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.” – John Maxwell
John was roundly criticized by a commenter for trying to bring religion into business. Odd criticism, considering that so much of Jesus’ ministry happened in the marketplace. The Gospels mention money more frequently than almost any other topic! So it seems to me, the business world is exactly the place where Christ’s followers should bring His light into the world.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “You’re not seeing the forest for the trees.” And that adage is absolutely correct when in danger of losing the “big picture” perspective by focusing on details.
However, for the leader in the business world, that adage must be flipped on its head.
A leader doesn’t lead just a group. The leader leads the individuals who make up that group. Each member of the group must know that their leader sees them, knows who they are, values their contributions and input, and cares about what happens to them.
In other words, John Maxwell was right. Leaders must love – in the biggest sense of the word – those they lead. Click here for more on what “Love Is….”
And oh, how Jesus loves us.
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he his happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. — Matthew 18:12-14
Of course, Jesus in his divine nature has the capacity to love each of us individually and equally. Human leaders are much more limited. But we can also learn from Scripture that it’s OK to delegate. Moses did, David did, Jesus did, and the apostles did, too.
You don’t have to go it alone. Build a like-minded and like-hearted leadership team, love them, and tend to each of them individually. And as the leader, hold your leadership team accountable to love and care for the individuals on their teams as well.
So as a business leader, give yourself permission to leave your 99 to take care of the one that needs some extra help. Don’t worry, the 99 will be fine for the brief time you’re gone. And you can also be sure that the other 99 are watching, learning that their leader does, in fact, care for them. They will each know that they matter to you, that they belong…and that they are loved.
And let your leadership point them to the love of the Father and of the Son – love in the biggest sense of the word.
For excellent resources regarding ministry in the workplace, check out Os Hillman’s daily deviotionals (available via email) and other materials at todaygodisfirst.com.