What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

A radio interviewer said, “I know you teach leadership, but you talk a lot about love.  What’s love got to do with it?”  My answer was simple. “Everything.”  Love as a core value has everything to do with everything.  We continued for the next hour talking about leaders who have chosen love as their core value and the difference they make in the lives of their followers. 

Love as a core value has everything to do with everything

It seems there are two challenges as we unfold the connection between love and leadership. One challenge is the word "love," which has been minimized, abused it and misused.  The love I am talking about brings words into our lives we could have never fully understood before – words like trust, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness, commitment, accountability and service.  I am convinced when people choose love as a core value; they are a different leader, spouse, parent, friend, neighbor and more.  Love changes us. It is the greatest change agent of all time.

When we look at Jesus, our leadership model, we see that He experienced great love from his Father while He was on earth.  In Mark 1:11, when God’s Spirit descended like a dove, along with the Spirit, a voice said: You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life (The Message).  Jesus knew the Father loved Him, He knew whose He was and who He was.  Jesus received the Father’s love and He lived His life on earth through it. We are to do the same.

The second challenge is that the word "leader" is often misunderstood. I recently heard from a seminary president that many of their younger students do not want to study leadership or even be identified as a leader. Their experiences with "leaders" have tainted their view of what leaders look like and do; they want no part of it. 

At Lead Like Jesus, we believe leadership happens any time you influence the thinking, behavior or development of another person. Leadership is about influence and it happens in every area of our lives - in our homes, organizations, churches and communities.

Leadership is about influence

How would our leadership change if, like Jesus, we received God's love and adopted that love as our core value? I believe accepting and abiding in God’s love and choosing love as our core value does at least four things in our lives:

We know whose we are.  Our self-worth is no longer up for grabs; our security and self-worth come from Him not our performance or the opinion of others.  The pride that could come from accomplishment is diminished as we recognize that everything we have - every gift, every talent, every experience does not come from us, but passes through us as a gift from God.  We finally get it isn’t about us. The security and confidence of knowing whose we are allows us to become fully what God has called us to be in our leadership and in our life.

We become fearless.  There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:18. When we receive God's love, we are no longer held captive by trying to please everyone.  We only have one audience.  We are willing to listen to feedback.  Ken Blanchard says, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions!" Fearful leaders are dangerous leaders; they are always protecting themselves instead of protecting their mission and their teams. Fearful leaders are most afraid when they feel their leadership might be rejected or compared to others. When we accept the gift of God’s unconditional love, the fear goes away and allows us to lead with confidence in the One who loves us most.

We can offer that same love to others.  Scripture tells us in John 13:34-35, A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  The new command was to love as Jesus did; He loved sacrificially and unconditionally. We can't give this kind of love to anyone if we have not received it ourselves.  The only way you can love unconditionally is through Jesus.  Those whom we influence need our love- a love that is strong enough to see mistakes as opportunities to learn, a love that gives grace and yet holds accountable to help others reach their highest potential in all God has planned for their lives.

We have a new perspective.  Life has many challenges and losses and knowing we are secure in God's love allows us to view every situation through a different lens and gives us a new perspective.  Our perspective is the frame in which we view life; receiving and abiding in God's love allows us to have an eternal perspective.  As a leader, focusing on the long view instead of seeing the crisis of the moment is critical for those we lead.

I am convinced that we find in I Corinthians 13:4-8a a description of the love we are intended to be.  In the passage below, insert your name every time you see the word love and see if the words describe you. 

Love is patient, Love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

We can choose love as our core value and when we do, we have the opportunity to build incredible relationships and have results beyond what we have imagined.  In addition, we have the blessing of having eternal impact on the lives of those we lead and introducing them to the One who loves them most.  I continue to believe that it is only by love that love is awakened and it is the calling of a lifetime of every leader.

Are there relationships in your life where the question, “What is the most loving thing to do?” needs to be asked?  How will you respond?


Father, thank you for loving us.  Help us to love others like you do – without condition and sacrificially.


More like this:

Make Each Day Count (Blog)

Love Driven Accountability (Blog)

Becoming a Transformed Leader (Podcast)



Phyllis Hendry Halverson

Phyllis Hendry Halverson serves as the inaugural President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus, a global leadership development ministry. Under her visionary leadership, the organization has grown exponentially since its founding in 1999, equipping and empowering thousands of people throughout the United States and around the world to lead as Jesus led. Phyllis radiates passion, warmth, authenticity and wit in every presentation, and as a result, she is a highly sought after speaker, regularly travelling across the U.S. and around the world. Prior to joining Lead Like Jesus, she served for 11 years as President of the National Science Center, Inc., in Augusta, a partnership with the United States Army. Phyllis enjoys spending time with her four children and nine grandchildren.  

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