By: Heather Giroux

Lead and Love.

At first glance, those words look good together.  They pack a punch to the imagination. They sound good paired up as they roll off the tongue…Lead and Love. They even inspire. Almost.

Almost, until you circle back to that pesky little conjunction between them. Then, you pause. Pause because you know there’s a subtext–leading and loving the way Jesus led and loved. 

The well-regarded Harvard Business Review (HBR), a definitive publication on leadership in the marketplace, frequently addresses qualities common to stellar leaders: intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision. 

If you are reading this piece, you are a leader in some capacity. From mothering children to running an office to helming an organization; department; ministry or even your family, you lead people. 

Here’s the rub: you typically don’t get to choose those you lead. Your followers are the selection of another, whether appointed by God, your boss, your Pastor or themselves. That means you stand to inherit the unlovable! They can be troubled, difficult, non-conforming and a pain.

Still, others can arrive helpful, supportive and loyal. Yet, all can disappoint you, hurt your feelings, abandon your relationship and even break you. Why? Because they bear the weight of human frailty. Thus, to lead them well, you must love them well.

Interestingly, HBR identifies the “X factor;” the secret ingredient that propels a good leader to a great one. Often left off the list are softer, more personal qualities—studies indicate that emotional intelligence [self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill] may be the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers from those who are merely adequate. 

Recognize Paul’s version of that in his first letter to the Corinthians? 

(4) Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, (5) never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. (6) It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. (7) If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. [1 Corinthians 13:TLB]

Jesus calls His followers to be leaders. But He turns the paradigm on its head. In the Gospels, He teaches His disciples not to take the seat of honor unless invited and exhorts them to keep doing what He does after He washes their feet.  

Remember when He overheard them actually bickering on the way to Capernaum about whom among them would be the greatest? He shocked The Twelve with this, “Whoever wants to be first must be last, and whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all.”  The soundbite version: Lead and Love.

Jesus doesn’t put a premium on your fierce determination and visionary toughness when people are the casualty. He doesn’t applaud your edgy barbs to those who can’t keep pace with your leadership style. Instead, He repeatedly shows us greatness in leadership can only come from humility and serving. That’s how you go from good to great. Lead and Love.


Heather Giroux co-pastors Citizen Heights Church with her best friend and husband Michael Giroux. She loves family time with her husband and four boys including caddying for her boys’ in golf tournaments. In her free time she likes TRX training as much as she can. For more, you can follow her on Twitter @heathermgiroux.




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