The Importance of Love in Leadership (Newsletter 4-12)

The Importance of Love in Leadership
Brian Thorstad

In today’s culture, the words “leadership” and “love” are not typically found in the same sentence, unless someone tells you “they love to do leadership.”
However, Christian leadership is different.

It’s different in its purpose, as Christian leaders lead for the glory of God and the good of their followers. The servant leader doesn’t follow the job description of a servant, he follows the job description of a leader, with the heart, the selflessness, of a servant.

It’s also different in its style and methodology. Christian leaders know they lead with the fragile bonds of love rather than strong cords of constraint, salaries or negative consequences. Forget about carrots and sticks; if you would lead them, you must love them.

One of my worst days in Christian ministry was the Sunday morning when precocious fifth-grade Sunday School student Scotty looked me in the eye and asked, “You don’t like us, do you?”

One of my other worst days in Christian ministry was the afternoon when church member Sarah looked me in the eye and screamed, “Maybe you do love your church members, but you need to learn how to show it!”

Sarah was right. It’s not enough to love them. You must love them in ways that communicate that love to them.

I finally began learning this when struggling to raise our toddler son. With the help of a couple of counseling books, however, we discovered that he was an extremely strong-willed, difficult child.

Ross Campbell’s wonderful book, How To Really Love Your Child led to a breakthrough. Campbell said that it’s not enough to love your kids unconditionally. You must love them unconditionally and communicate that love to them. It’s communicated love that counts.

Communicated love forms the bridge over which your beliefs and values can flow to your children.

Campbell said that you communicate your love to your child in three ways: focused attention, eye contact and physical contact. Simple. And it was a huge help to us.

Loving in leadership

Years later, I discovered that a similar formula works with the adults we would like to lead well.

First, we have to actually love them. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you’ll never fool all of the people all of the time.

Then, after downloading the love of God for them, you have to show it with focused attention, eye contact and verbal affirmation. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

I’ve learned that liking people (not just loving them), forgiving people (which means you have to wait until they hurt you) and working hard, side-by-side people, are all powerful ways to communicate your love—God’s love, actually—to the people whom God wants you to lead.


Brian Thorstad is a Redevelopment Transitional Pastor. He is the author of Heaven Help Our Church! (A Survival Guide for Christians in Troubled Churches) and Redevelopment: Transitional Pastoring That Transforms Churches.


The above article, “The Importance of Love in Leadership” was written by Brian Thorstad. The article was excerpted from

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”