The Heart of a Leader

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Without a solid foundation, a leader will struggle. And a strong foundation starts with a right heart.

The heart of a leader is everything; it’s the lifeline to the leader’s health. When your heart is muddied—the foundation rocky—your ability to inspire and lead others will suffer, and your people will feel it. Which is why it is so important to examine your heart. To be honest and open to evaluation.

You lead others to serve God and for the greater good. With that, there is an upward focus, inward examination, and outward manifestation. Let’s take a look at each, exploring the three vital components to a healthy heart in leadership.

Basic Leadership Qualities

1. Leadership begins and ends with a heart that yields to the Father.

So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’
— John 5:19

A look at the life of Jesus and you will see a life that was fully devoted to the will of the Father. In fact, Jesus didn’t do anything unless the Father willed it.

You and I are no different. You absolutely cannot lead well unless your heart is to do His will. It’s seeking after God wholeheartedly; praying consistently for His wisdom and insight; being open to redirect based on His leading.

Whether you’re leading in ministry, the marketplace, church, a small group, or your children, ask yourself today: am I fully in step with His will?

2. You won’t lead others well until you’ve learned to lead yourself.

Rather, train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. For this reason we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
— 1 Timothy 4:7-10

A noted indicator of good leadership is discipline. Whether in the secular world or the Christian. Because good leaders know that discipline paves the way—you’ve learned to lead yourself to do what’s best, not easiest.

As a believer, I would take this a step further. A good leader is someone who has learned to lead themselves in righteousness. Who has trained in godliness. How can you expect to lead others in Kingdom purpose if you haven’t done so in your own self first?

If you desire to lead—from your home to ministry to the workplace—train yourself in godliness. It’s here in the unseen a foundation that lasts is built.

3. Leadership isn’t about you or status. It’s about serving others for the greater good.

But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
— Matthew 20:25-18
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Leadership is not a title. It’s an example, action, and influence. Attributes freely given by people who trust you.

For too long leadership has been hijacked as a position people toil after for power, control, and admiration. It’s been about the leader’s agenda rather than the people’s good. And Jesus noticed this in his time, as well.

As believers, we are called to lead in a way that is contrary to the world. We are called to serve others. Leadership is about the greater good. And this is exactly what Jesus did with his very life. He served people.

If you want to lead, then serve. Humble yourself. Cultivate a world that allows others to flourish. People want to follow someone they can trust. Someone they know will battle to make a way for them to thrive. And that usually comes at a cost to the leader.

Jesus, our great King, made the ultimate sacrifice and paid the highest price when he died on the cross.