February 15, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
What does love look like here?
My friend and former colleague recently transitioned from a workplace where she had served for over a dozen years: change and loss, grief and pain, healing from hurt. As she enters into a new season, a new job unrelated to previous work, and a new work setting, she was honest with herself: I do not want to be here. Yet, what does love look like here?
It was a brave question from a brave leader. It didn’t undermine the pain of transition. It didn’t flatten out the differences in work settings. It didn’t deny the lament of leaving a people she loved, yet also a place that had become toxic to her soul. In my empathy I tried as best I could to hold her lament and let her breathe it out in a deep exhale. She needed space to lament. However, I was surprised by the space she had open to love. It wasn’t clear in the moment, but love seemed to be an anchor in her new leadership space. Yes, she is still healing and lamenting as she should be. And yes, love is a leadership resource in this new setting. Who are these new coworkers? What are their stories? What are their common goals? What do they all bring to the table? What are we building together? Is love not a nail hammered in to hold the table together? My friend was starting all over again, but her openness to love gave me hope. I offered a whispered encouragement: “They are so blessed to have you because wherever you go, you love well.”
This made me push past the limits of that situation and rethink love as a factor of leadership in general, be it a new employee in an unknown place or the seasoned CEO of a company or institution. What does love look like here?
What if we rewrote those lines and reframed the equation this way:
If leadership speaks in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but does not have love, leadership is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if leadership has prophetic powers, and understands all mysteries and all knowledge, and if leadership has all faith, so as to remove mountains, but does not have love, leadership is nothing. If leadership gives away all their possessions, and hands over their body so that leadership may boast, but does not have love, leadership gains nothing.
Leadership is patient. Leadership is kind. Leadership is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Something to Think About:
How is love a resource in your leadership style?
Is love seen as a weakness or a strength in your leadership? What would it look like to pray 1 Corinthians 13 for leaders?
Something to Do:
Slowly re-read each line of the edited passage 1 Corinthians 13 for Leaders. Let it comfort and convict, challenge and encourage you today.
God who leads us in love; God, you who are patient, you who are kind, you who are not boastful nor envious, arrogant nor rude; God, you who are not irritable nor resentful; God, you who does not rejoice in wrongdoing but in truth. Lead us into this depth of love. Teach us how to embody this love in our leadership. We confess that our love is envious and impatient. Our love is jealous and arrogant. Our love sabotages and is rude. This is not love but a lie. May the light of your love expose our lies. May the light of your love recalibrate our leadership. Grant us grace. Amen.