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Have you ever wondered why you're not further along in realizing the vision that God has given your ministry? You know God's plan for your life. He's written it on the tablets of your heart. And you have been running with that vision the best you know how. Yet, for all your effort, the progress toward realizing that plan, at best, seems minimal. So you wonder, What's the hold up?

As a leader, I'm always digging in the Word of God for principles on leadership - principles that will bring about greater growth and increase to fulfill God's purpose for the ministry.

One day while studying the Word on this subject, it struck me: I had been overlooking the most basic, fundamental truth that is a prerequisite to growth and increase for any area. Jesus called it the law that fulfills all the law. Of course, He was referring to "the law of love" (Rom. 13:8).

If we want to succeed in ministry and experience the growth and increase that God has called us to, then we must become perfected, or grown up and matured, in love.

When you're perfected in love, your faith will work. Mountains of impossibility will be cast into the sea. Doors will open for you that no man can shut. All things are possible to him that believeth. But if you're not perfected in love, it doesn't matter how much faith you have, because faith works by love (Gal. 5:6).

For that reason, I think it's a good idea to refresh ourselves on the love of God. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

The Greek word for "loved" here is agape and it is the "God kind of love." The God kind of love is a love that gives. God so loved the world that He "gave." In many places in the Bible, the word agape is translated as "charity." Love gives.

So I think our approach to walking in love should be from the aspect of what we can give to others. The first question that comes to mind is, "What do I give? A pan of muffins? Money? Give what?"

In order to get a better idea of what love gives, let's take a brief look at 1 Corinthians 13: the love chapter.

The first thing we see about how love gives into a relationship is in verse four. It says, "Love endures long and is patient and kind." Here we see how love gives "commitment" into a relationship. You won't write off a relationship at the first sign of trouble. You're in it for the long haul. And you endure with kindness.

Sometimes in order to get a better understanding of what something is, we need to know what it is not. Verses five and six tell us what love is not:

"It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail." (Amp.)

All the things listed in these two verses have a common root. Self-interest and self-concern. What does this tell us about love? It says the love of God would have us place the needs of others before our own. It tells us that our focus should be outward, rather than inward.

In essence, we need to view every relationship with this thought in mind. "What need do they have that God can use me to meet?" If we approach every relationship with this mindset then, truly, I think we are on the path that will lead us toward greater growth and increase in every area of our lives. Because the law of love fulfills all the law.

Love and the Authority Factor
I'd like to talk about an aspect of love that, in my opinion, has been overlooked. And that is this: how you meet the needs of someone who is over you in authority will be different than how you meet the needs of someone who is simply your peer. Likewise, how you meet the needs of someone who you are over in authority will be different as well.

If you are a leader with people under your authority, you need to know how to give into their life in order to meet their needs. Loving those under your authority with the God kind of love will cause them to flourish and prosper. To that end, I'd like to share a few things on how a leader can give to someone who is under his authority.

Give Them Prayer
The first thing you need to give to people under your authority is prayer. Because of your position of authority over them, you are able to pray for them from a spiritual platform that few others can. Whether it's a husband praying for his wife, or parents praying for their children, or a pastor praying for his congregation, prayer is the first and foremost important thing you can give them.

Someone would ask, "How and what should we pray?" Let's look at what the apostle Paul prayed for the people who were under his authority. In Ephesians 1:16-18 we read:

"[I] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God...may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power...."

He prayed that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened. We need to pray for those under our authority that they would be able to see things the way God sees things, that they would have spiritual insight.

Paul prayed that they would know what is the hope of His calling for their lives. They need to know what God has called them to, what is their ministry. This knowledge will give purpose and meaning to their lives.

Next, Paul prayed for them to know what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. You need to pray that they have a revelation of who they are in Christ. They need to see themselves as world changers and overcomers! In Christ, there is nothing they can't do.

The last thing Paul prayed was that they have a revelation of the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe. They need to know that there is no mountain too big for God to move out of their life. God is able to meet whatever need they have!

Give Them High Expectation!
The next thing you give to those under your authority flows out of your praying for them. One of the most supernatural ways you elevate the performance of subordinates is by having a high expectation of them.

Sometimes this is not an easy thing to do, because our expectation is usually predicated on past experience. If, for example, you have an employee who has a history of messing up, then your expectation of him will most likely be low. However, if you don't do something to raise your expectation of that employee, you'll not meet a critical need in his life that will motivate him to new heights of productivity.

Give Them Clear Direction
The third thing they need from you is clear direction. No one can run with the vision unless it has been made plain to him (Hab. 2:2). Your subordinates need to know how their job description contributes to the overall corporate effort. Without this, they'll not know what it is that you "expect" from them.

Give Them Freedom to Follow Their Heart
Fourthly, once you've given them clear direction, you need to allow them the freedom to follow their heart in pursuing that direction. Don't keep looking over their shoulder and second-guessing them.

The Word says that a man's gift will make room for him. The way any ministry or organization will prosper is by allowing the gifts in your subordinates to blossom. Take your hands off and allow him to follow his heart. If a person can't follow his heart, his labor becomes legalistic. He's just performing a "job" instead of a "calling."

Give Them Freedom to Make a Mistake
What if they make a mistake? That's key number five. You've got to give them the freedom to make their own mistakes. If you take your hands off and tell them to "run with it," you've got to let them experience the consequence of their own decision making.

Yes - even when it's wrong!

You've got to allow them to experience the harvest of seeds they have sown. Even though it may be painful, it is part of the process of growing in wisdom and experience.

However, if their mistake is so large that it puts the ministry or their own life in jeopardy, then, of course, you need to step in and intervene. Understand that they might not view it as loving them when you fail to bail them out of a tight spot. But in the long run, it is what's best for them.

Give Them Rewards
Hebrews 11:6 says that God "is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." In like manner, you need to be a rewarder of good performance. Once you've given subordinates clear direction and have allowed them to follow their own heart, then you need to reward them when they do a good job. A pay raise is an excellent way to reward subordinates. But there are other ways of rewarding as well.

Another way to reward those who do well is by praising them in front of others. Let everybody know what a good job they did. Another reward would be to give them a day off. Those are just a couple of suggestions.

Give Them Integrity...
Lastly, there are certain attributes those under your authority need you to possess. They need you to be honest, just, and a person of integrity. They need to know you're not a liar, a manipulator, or a deceiver. It's disconcerting for subordinates to not know if you're telling them the truth or if you're trying to manipulate or con them into something.

Another vital characteristic you need to have is consistency. God is immutable. He never changes. And if you're in a leadership position, the people under your authority need to know you are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

If they need to talk to you about something, they shouldn't have to wonder what kind of mood you're in. "Did the boss get up on the wrong side of the bed today?" They need to see you consistently positive, consistently optimistic, consistently fair, honest, and just.

If you sow the seeds of love toward those under your authority, I guarantee you'll reap a harvest of love. You'll reap employees who are loyal and faithful, diligent, hard working, and who will run fervently with the vision.

Being perfected in love...It's where success begins and, ultimately, where success ends. Let's make it our goal!

Source: A Leader's Love by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Living Word International

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