Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leadership, Love, and Following Christ

Over the past few weeks, we've been looking at servant leadership and agape love. We looked at Hunter's list of servant leadership qualities and a list of qualities derived from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. These two lists have really impacted me, and hopefully they've influenced you, too. But there's one more list I want to share with you. I've been holding on to this third list of qualities for a while now. This list wasn't suggested to me by The Servant; I actually thought of it myself. One day, I began to wonder if there are any other lists of qualities anywhere in the Bible, and I thought of a list that is shockingly close to Hunter's list. It blew my mind and made me see the Gospel in a whole new light. I was surprised when I saw how all three lists are so eerily similar, and yet they are supposed to be about different things. This third list is from a famous passage in the Bible, and you might have even thought of it earlier than I did. But before I reveal to you the third list, I want to review the first two with you so they will be fresh in your mind.

The first list is the list of qualities of servant leadership. We looked at them in The Qualities of a Servant Leader. The qualities are: honest, trustworthy, good role model, caring, committed, good listener, holds people accountable, treats people with respect, gives people encouragement, positive, enthusiastic attitude, and appreciates people.

The second list is a list of qualities about agape love, which means unconditional love. These qualities are found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, and commitment. This particular list has really made a difference in my life. When I saw that Jesus was talking about how we treat people, and not how we feel towards people, then suddenly it seems a whole lot more realistic to love our enemies, forgive as we have been forgiven, judge not lest we be judged, and to love others as much as Christ loves us.

These are life-changing qualities. If you apply all of these qualities to your life, then you will no doubt become a servant leader. But there is one more list of qualities I want you to look at.

If you remember, in The Qualities of a Servant Leader, I said that love and leadership go hand-in-hand. If you want to be a servant leader, you have to love those under your charge. There's no way around this. You have to have agape love if you want to be a servant leader. If you don't have unconditional love, then you'll never meet your full potential as a leader. If you don't have unconditional love, you won't be a model of Christ's love. If you don't have unconditional love, you won't be able to love others as much as He loves you. You won't be able to love your enemies. You won't be able to forgive as Christ forgives you. You won't be able to serve Him with your whole heart, mind, and soul if you don't have unconditional love. And that's why agape love is so critical: without it, your relationship with Christ will not be as strong as it could be.

If you don't believe me yet, I want you to look at the third list. This list of qualities shows you qualities a servant leader will have, what unconditional love looks like, and also what qualities a Christian will have. You probably know it as the Fruit of the Spirit:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control
These nine qualities are the Fruit of the Spirit. If the Spirit of God lives in you (and you have to have the Spirit to be a Christian, Romans 8:9), then these are the nine qualities you will possess. In Matthew 7:16-19, Jesus talks about how to recognize a false prophet from a genuine Christian. He said, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." By their fruit, you will recognize them. Jesus said you will be able to tell the difference between the non-believers and the believers by their respective fruit.

In Galatians 5, Paul gives us a detailed list about what those fruits are. Galatians 5:19-21 is the list of bad fruit, the qualities and behaviors the non-Christians will possess and follow. Paul said that those who exhibit those fruit will not inherit eternal life. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul gives us a list of the good fruit, the qualities Christians will possess. That list is known as the Fruit of the Spirit, and it's that same list that mirrors our other lists. Though they use different words, all three lists are describing the same things. Do you find it strange that a list describing a servant leader, a list describing unconditional love, and a list describing a Christ-follower are all essentially identical?

So what have we learned? What's the point of everything we just learned? In short, the point is that as Christians, we are to be servant leaders, and we are to love unconditionally. Isn't this what Jesus was telling us to do? Isn't that what He was saying when He said to love others as He loves us, forgive as you have been forgiven, judge not lest you be judged, love your enemies, and to take care of the poor, widows, and orphans?

Go and bear the fruit of the spirit. Display the qualities of a servant leader. Love people unconditionally. In doing so, you will bring glory and attention to God. In John 15:8, Jesus said, "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

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