"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Personal Life of the Youth Worker

Leading With Power and Love

Danny Jones

Often people are motivated to a place of leadership due to a desire for power. It may be a selfish motivation or simply a desire to be an agent of change, but power can become a dangerous tool in the hand of any leader. For this reason, leadership often has a negative connotation in the minds of many.

One of the greatest powers know to man is the power of love. Whether is it the love for a woman that can force a man to fight armies or walk through fire or the love that would motivate people to give their lives in service to the poor and sick, both display the reality of the power of love.

Since both leadership and love involve the concept of power, why is it that we so rarely associate these two ideas? This mixture is exactly what characterizes the leadership of God. His ultimate power is never threatening because is it characterized by love. If this is God?s model of leadership, then it should certainly be ours as well. What does the love of God look like in a practical sense?

We are all familiar with the love chapter, I Corinthians 13. Though this list of what love is and is not gives us direction on how we should live, I have recently realized that this list is a description of God, for God is love. My realization of this has altered my concept of who God is and how he acts toward those under his authority. As one who is seeking to live and lead in a way that is consistent with the character of God, this chapter becomes a guide to the character of powerful leadership. I will replace the word "love" with "leadership" in order to challenge our concept of power in leadership. My goal is not to alter the meaning or value of inspired Scripture, but to push us into a new understanding of the calling God has given us as leaders who model the love of God.

"A Leader is patient"

When I have to have things my way in my time, without interruptions or complications, my life is not characterized by patience. Patience is a great test of maturity, since it is childish to demand to have what I want immediately. It is those who learn to wait who find their strength renewed.

"A Leader is kind"

We live in an angry world where selfish people think only of what benefits themselves. It is like a breath of fresh air when someone you don?t know greets you with a smile and "good morning" or stops to help you pick up the papers you just dropped. Kindness is love in action. It is not only an attitude but also the tangible expression of that attitude that reaches out to help or communicate value to one who questions his value.

"A Leader is not jealous"

If you are building your own kingdom, jealousy will steal your joy and destroy your health as you see others succeed. But when I see myself as one stone in the building that God is building (I Peter 2:5), then I can rejoice in the success of others, knowing that it ultimately is my success.

"A Leader does not brag and is not arrogant"

If everyone under your leadership knew what God knows about you, what would you have to brag about? We are all hopeless beggars that have found the grace of God to fill our void. Leadership is simply when one beggar directs other beggars to the source of grace that he has found.

"A Leader does not act unbecomingly"

There is always the temptation in leadership to fear losing the attention of those I lead. This can especially be true in youth leadership. Often, we try to keep this from happening by doing things or saying things that keep everyone?s eyes on us. It is not necessarily that we do blatantly sinful things, but just things not appropriate. It is interesting to see how many times the New Testament warns about meaningless words or actions. Too often, primarily among youth, this manifests itself in sarcasm. This is characteristically the humor of our generation, but I believe it is most destructive because it is based on truth about an individual that reflects either their failures or things that they have no power to change. (I Tim. 6:2)

"A Leader does not seek his own"

Leadership is servanthood. Jesus clearly showed us this (Matt. 20:28) A servant is not consumed with himself, but with pleasing the one he serves. Jesus took this to the ultimate degree and died for those he served. If my desire in leadership does not take me to lead me ultimately to a willingness to die for those I serve, I am seeking my own good. If we are really servants, why does it bother us so much when someone under our leadership treats us like a servant?

"A Leader is not easily provoked"

 Somehow most of us have accepted the concept that anger produces results. Maybe it is because this is what was modeled for us by our authorities or because in our sinful nature it seems logical. But it is not from God. Most anger is the result of poor communication and narrow-mindedness. This is why James says (1:19) that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Then he goes on (v. 20) to say that the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Anger is a dead end. It will never accomplish anything but to damage your testimony and effectiveness.

"A Leader does not take into account a wrong suffered"

We are great at keeping lists of what people do to us. I don?t know what we think it will accomplish, but somehow we feel that if we take a name off the list of those who hurt us, they will not have to "pay for it." Unforgiveness puts us in prison; not the ones we don?t forgive (Mat. 18). God is totally capable of balancing the books. That is why he sent his Son to die. The cross balanced the books. You will never forget what has been done to you. God doesn?t expect you to, for even He cannot do that. But, He chooses not to remember those things against us (Jer. 31:34), and this is what we are to do. It is an act of your will that will set you free.

"A Leader does not rejoice in unrighteousness"

This would seem to be obvious, yet our hearts are deceitful and drawn to what is wicked. I don?t normally think of myself as one who rejoices over that which is wicked, but this might help put things in perspective. The opposite of rejoicing is grieving. Does sin grieve my heart the way it does God?s heart? When I see injustice, do I respond in anger or grief? When I see immorality on newsstands or television, do I respond in secret curiosity or grief? When I see drunkenness, do I respond with a joke or grief? Do the things that grieve God?s heart grieve my heart?

"A Leader rejoices with truth"

Integrity is doing what is right because it is right to do what is right, regardless of who knows or sees. Is truth and honesty so valuable to you that you are willing to take a lower grade on a test or pay a higher tax or receive a reprimand for being late, rather than telling a lie about traffic or a broken alarm clock? The reason we rejoice with truth is that the truth sets us free and freedom is something to rejoice about.

"A Leader bears all things"

As a leader you are ultimately responsible for what happens. The easiest thing for a human to do is to blame. It all began in Eden. As a leader you will always be able to find someone to blame, but neither you nor those you lead will be better as a result. You must take responsibility. If someone didn?t understand, you didn?t make it clear. If someone didn?t hear, you didn?t communicate in an interesting way. If someone was irresponsible, you should have chosen someone different. You ultimately must take responsibility for what is happening. You cannot imagine the security that this type of attitude will bring to a group. And those under your leadership will rush to your aid to help you succeed.

"A Leader believes all things"

Trust produces trust! Trust is empowering! Nothing is more demoralizing to me than to be given a job and then hear "I sure hope I can trust you with this." If I know that I am trusted, I will rise to the occasion to show myself trustworthy. Most would say that this is gullible and maybe there will be times when I regret it. But in most situations, it might be the thing that causes ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

"A Leader hopes all things"

If there is one thing missing in our world, it is hope. Most have lost motivation to live and experience the future. When looking from a human perspective, this makes sense. But as a leader you have been called to see past the expected to the possible. When you look at the forest, you don?t see trees. You see handcrafted furniture, yachts and mountain lodges. You see the potential in the rough, unfinished product and can help others see what could be. You are a giver of hope because the future is as big and limitless as God himself.

"A Leader endures all things"

Leadership is hard work. It takes discipline and sweat. It is not for the lazy or weak. There will be times when you know what God is directing you to do and you must do it, regardless of opposition or misunderstanding. It was the path that Christ chose and it wasn?t easy. But the joy that is before you, as it was with Jesus, makes it all worth while. The joy of seeing a student set free through Christ from drugs or insecurity makes the endurance worth it. The fulfillment of watching those you have discipled as they disciple others makes the endurance worth it. The thrill of seeing your youth group gain a vision and burden for friends and fellow students who don?t personally know Christ makes the endurance worth it. The anticipation of hearing, "well done, good and faithful servant" makes the endurance worth it. Everything is for a purpose. "For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory." (II Timothy 2:10)


Danny Jones lives in Slovakia training youth workers with Reach Out Youth Solutions. This article was originally published in Slovak in the Slovak National Network's (SIET) monthly resource packet. Find out more about Reach Out in Slovakia and Slovakia's National Network by visiting their site at ______.