Benefits for leaders who are kind:
1. Kind leaders are able to gently correct others, strengthening connections instead of breaking them.
2. Leaders who are kind and courteous, and therefore not defensive, are approachable and enjoy better communication and collaboration with their teams.
Benefits for the community where leaders are kind:
1. Showing kindness to others helps create a community where people offer one another everyday mercies. And everyone needs some kind of mercy every day!
2. Showing patience and kindness can diffuse tense situations and put people at ease.
Biblical inspiration and support:
There was a time when I thought the leader was the most headstrong person in the room who imposed their will on others. That is not the picture Paul paints as he instructs Timothy in this passage:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24–26, ESV, emphasis mine)
Paul urges Timothy to not be quarrelsome but kind and patient. The following passages build on this idea but use a different Greek word, ἐπιεικής, which the Greek Lexicon defines as, “not insisting on every right of letter of law or custom, yielding, gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant.” It is translated “gentle” in the following two passages. Reading these passages begins to give you a feel for the characteristic Paul is trying to highlight in his writing:
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” (Titus 3:1–2, ESV, emphasis mine)
“2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3:2–3, ESV, emphasis mine)
Overseers are to be gentle and kind. We see this word used in contrast with quarreling; when tempted to quarrel we are instructed to be gentle instead.
Quarreling is to dispute, to contend – to fight. Fighting is at odds with a leader’s purpose to serve the community by forging connections and fruitful collaboration.
This same Greek word is also used in one of my favorite passages:
“17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, ESV, emphasis mine)
James says wisdom is gentle, peaceable – not combative, not battling – and full of mercy and open to reason. Leaders are not to be defensive, they are to be confident in their role and able to be gentle with those who oppose them, to be patient, kind. This allows them to be able to entertain new ideas that are foreign to their thinking, to have their blind spots exposed, to gain from the perspectives and experience of others.
Here in Philippians the same Greek word has been translated, “reasonableness,” providing another angle on what is being described. Christians are to be kind, gentle and reasonable.
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7, ESV, Emphasis mine)
Christians are directed and encouraged not to be quick to argue but instead to be kind, gentle, courteous and reasonable. Kindness contributes to an environment where small disputes can remain small and people value each other more than winning an argument. It seems to me that kindness is an everyday kind of mercy we can offer one another. It works to create the hospitable space we desire in our homes, churches and workplaces.
What comes to mind is not one particular story, but the many times that team leaders and members have been gracious to me when I have spoken out of turn, or out of agitation. The times when they have shown me patience when I have spoken from anger or fear. The times they chose to be gracious and to diffuse a situation when, if they had responded in the same way to me, it would have made the situation worse.
And since COVID, I feel people’s kindness is even more meaningful to me, both because I have missed interacting with people and therefore missed their kindness, but also because there has been a lot of quarreling and disputing among people in the last couple years. I realize that I have gotten to the point that I almost expect people to be unreasonable, so when people are kind and gentle I find it comforting and I relax. Someone reminded me recently, when we relax “it becomes easier for us to show up as our best selves.”
Being kind and gentle doesn’t happen by accident.
What do you need to do to help you deal with the frustrations and disappointments of life so you can be refreshed and offer kindness? We often see a day off, time to ourselves or a vacation as luxuries, but when it comes to being able to kind, tolerant, patient and gracious we need to give ourselves time to deal with our own hardships and difficulties, and time just to be refreshed.
It seems that productivity, creativity and efficiency are often rewarded in our culture, but not so with kindness. How could we build in ways to highlight, encourage and honor acts and attitudes of kindness among our team?
A parting word on kindness:
Kindness is an everyday kind of mercy.
How has someone’s kindness made a difference to you?
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 371.
Working definition of this leadership concept:
To be joyful is to rejoice in hope. Joy does not depend on circumstances, but on the hope we have in Christ.
I have a friend who is fond of saying that joy is the fuel of the Kingdom of God. She continues to explain that it is the joy of deeply knowing that nothing separates us from our good God that energizes us to run.
I like the picture of running the race set before us, like in Hebrews 12, and I agree:
Benefits for leaders who are joyful:
1. Joyful leaders are able to enjoy other people and see and celebrate their accomplishments.
2. Leaders who can return to joy when facing disappointment and difficulty are more resilient.
3. Leaders who experience joy are refreshed and energized.
Benefits for the community where leaders are joyful:
Biblical inspiration and support:
“12 Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, NIV)
It’s one of the great mysteries that joy and suffering are not mutually exclusive. They can occur simultaneously. Over the last year I have been touched by how, even in the midst of grief, I can appreciate natural beauty, enjoy the words of a song, and even laugh. God has made us with amazing emotional capacity. I actually think that one of the things that enables us to be patient in suffering is that we are joyful in hope… hope that life is more than suffering. Joyful in the confidence that God is with us always, whatever we are facing (2 Corinthians 4:9). Rejoicing in the sure knowledge that there is a purpose to this life. We hope in the glory of Jesus Christ, the risen Savior who sits at the right hand of God. We hope that as He has been resurrected, so too we will have resurrected bodies (Romans 6:5). We can rejoice that through Christ our names are written in the heaven (Luke 10:20) and we have eternal life which means we have the ability to know God (John 17:3).
Joy is not flippant, silly or foolish. It is not reserved for little children. In Nehemiah 8 the people of God begin grieving while they hear the Word of the Lord for the first time. The leaders respond by urging them to celebrate and teaching them, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10, ESV) In the face of disappointment and broken-heartedness they are told that joy is their strength.
Leaders need this joy which flows from a sure confidence of God’s love and an experience of His loving presence. We read about joy in God’s presence in Psalm 16:
“ 11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)
And so, if you do not have joy, do not worry. God is the source of joy. It is actually listed in Galatians as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23, ESV, emphasis mine)
How do you produce this fruit? Well, you can’t produce it on your own: it is the product of the Holy Spirit at work within you. I think the key is found just a verse later:
“25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, ESV)
I have a joy-filled friend who adds, “It’s a dance with the Spirit!”
We will exhibit fruit of the Spirit if we live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit…If we do not rely on our own limited resources but lean into God’s endless resources. If we follow Jesus’ example and do what we see the Father doing, keeping in step with His work in our area of influence. Partnering with God in His will being done releases great joy!
And so, we are joyful in our secure hope, which helps us be patient in our present sufferings, and we are faithful in prayer – aligning our will with God’s will in our lives and areas of leadership (See Romans 12:12).
A friend offered this example: “My sister-in-law lost her husband almost two years ago. She grieved deeply for a long time, but this summer found line dancing with friends from her summer home. She started to move and follow steps and the grief began to lift. She kept dancing and her smile returned. She learned to laugh and let go. It was joy from new friends, lots of fun dancing and of course, her Savior who provided it all!”
One of my friend talks about "joybursts” – little (or big) surprises that bring joy in the midst of your day. Take some time this week to pause and savor the “joybursts”… the phone call from a friend, hugs from family, the laughter of children, ice cream, the beauty of the sky, solving a problem, a happy memory…
Have some fun.
What fills your tank? As a leader, fun is not optional; you need the refreshment that fun and joy bring! Take out your calendar and schedule no less than an hour this week to do something fun that brings you joy. If you don’t know what brings you joy – start experimenting! Maybe you should try line dancing, learning an instrument, quilting, refinishing furniture… What refreshes you? What puts a smile on your face? Give it some time. Those on your team will be grateful that you did!
Joy in the Lord’s presence.
The Lord is the source of joy for a Christian. Spend some time reading and meditating on Psalm 16. Ask the Lord to reveal the fullness of joy to be found in His presence.
Shout for Joy!
The Bible directs God’s people to shout for joy many times. Consider obeying!
(See Psalm 32:11, 33:1, 35:27, 47:1, 66:1, 81:1, 132:9; Isaiah 12:6, 42:11)
A parting word on joy:
Having fun is not optional for a leader!
Comment: What is bringing you joy lately?
Working definition of this leadership concept:
To be impartial is one expression of loving your neighbor as yourself.
It means to not base decisions on assumptions or prejudice but on God’s wisdom (James 3:17).
To be impartial is to not favor one person over another.
Benefits for leaders who are impartial:
1. Being impartial allows leaders to benefit from the gifts and perspectives of all, not just the influential few.
2. Leaders who do not show favoritism avoid creating division amongst the team because of unfair treatment.
Benefits for the community where leaders are impartial:
1. Impartial leaders help create a culture where all are respected and honored.
2. Team members are encouraged because their ideas, contributions and perspectives will be fairly considered.
Biblical inspiration and support:
As I read over the New Testament looking for teaching and models that would inspire leadership principles, I noticed that impartiality turned up again and again as a characteristic of God Himself:
Both of these two examples shows that God shows no partiality based on ethnicity or nationality.
These two examples show we are not to show partiality based on socio-economic level, vocation, status or wealth.
This example really sums it up; whatever reason society may give a person more influence than another – that reason does not hold up among God’s people because God himself shows no partiality.
As leaders we have both the opportunity and responsibility to receive all people in the same way. As servants of the Lord, our leadership is to reflect the character of God.
One of my greatest lessons on impartiality came through being parented along with a disabled sibling. Even though our physical abilities were different we each were given responsibilities around the house. My mom went out of the way to make sure we both had chores and that we both were rewarded for our contributions to the family. My parents were strict and we both faced discipline if we broke house rules. Even though our abilities were different, we were treated fairly. We both were valued members of the household, expected to contribute to the good of the household, held to the standards of conduct of the household and were to enjoy the blessings of the household.
Take some time this week to consider the people on your team.
Who is the most influential? Why are they the most influential? Is it fair?
As you reflect, have you been showing favoritism in your leadership? Do you need to apologize to anyone? Make it right? Change paths?
As you consider people you are going to invite to the team or those you will promote take a minute to consider how you select candidates. Is there a way you could remove favoritism and make the system more just to all people?
Sticky Note Brainstorm
One way I have seen leaders reduce the effects of favoritism and give people more equal influence in team meetings is by using a sticky note system. Every team member is given the same amount of sticky notes. The topics are put up on the white board and everyone can anonymously add their ideas and solutions using their sticky notes. Then each member is given the same amount of votes to vote for their favorite ideas. Each team member can give all their votes to one sticky note idea/solution or then can give each of their votes to a different one. Then the votes are tallied for the winning ideas. This process removes some of the partiality leaders and members show one another.
A parting word on impartiality:
Impartial leaders value and respect all members of the community equally.
Comments: What have you seen leaders do to create fair team environments?
Working definition of this leadership concept:
To be hospitable is to generously provide space for others to rest, be refreshed, and prosper. It can involve providing food and/or lodging for people as it did in the times of the Bible. More broadly it involves accepting, loving and welcoming others and working to meet basic material, emotional and spiritual needs.
Benefits for leaders who show hospitality:
1. Showing hospitality expands the leader’s heart for others and invites joy.
2. Showing hospitality makes the team environment safer and more welcoming to prospective team members.
Benefits for the community where leaders show hospitality:
1. Leaders are sensitive to and provide for the needs of the team.
2. Leaders welcome others and foster a welcoming culture on their team that make those that feel like "outsiders" become "insiders" who welcome others.
3. Leaders provide hospitable space for people to grow, discover, and attempt new things so that people can develop their gifts and skills.
Biblical inspiration and support:
In the lists of qualifications for an overseer in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 we read that a leader in the church must be hospitable. This is interesting to me. If we were to survey popular books on leadership for leadership characteristics I am not sure that hospitable would top the list. Decisive? Maybe. Persuasive? Maybe. But would we naturally think that leaders must be hospitable? If you call to mind a successful public leader, would you describe them as hospitable? Doubtful. And yet, hospitality makes God’s lists of leadership characteristics. What is it to be hospitable?
In Hebrews 13:2 the noun form of the verb used in the Timothy and Titus verses is used to refer to Abraham’s hospitality in Genesis 18. In this passage Abraham entertains “angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2, ESV). What does that look like? In this passage we see Abraham washing the feet of the weary travelers and providing a shady place for them to rest while he gets them some food. He then stays with them as they eat.
We see in this scene that hospitality involves welcoming people, even strangers, and meeting their basic needs.
In 1 Peter we read:
“8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8–11, ESV, emphasis mine).
In this passage Peter does not seem concerned about hospitality toward strangers, but rather toward brothers and sisters in the Lord. Hospitality seems to be something that springs from earnest love. And it sounds like some Christians have been grumbling about showing hospitality. So, it is important that hospitality comes from a loving and generous heart. This is followed by the direction to serve one another as we manage and contribute according to the gifts God has given us. Hospitality is nestled in this idea of a loving community of people serving and building up one another. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? To have a loving community where people serve each other requires showing each other hospitality: looking to each other’s needs, welcoming one another, and being patient with each other.
This reminds me of what we read in the letter to the Romans, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7, ESV) Welcome here involves receiving someone into your home, or into your circle of acquaintance. It is to welcome, receive, accept others. This statement is especially powerful because it follows Paul’s exhortation to different groups within the Christian community in Rome, the Weak and the Strong, to stop judging each other and love one another well.
It matters who/how/why leaders welcome. It matters if they welcome people and meet their needs with generous hearts or begrudgingly. It matters if people sense the team is a hospitable space to step out in contributing according to their gifts. Hospitality is crucial to godly leadership.
Jesus showed great hospitality to his team of disciples. He corrected them when they misunderstood the mission (Mark 8:31-33), had bad ideas (Luke 9:53-55) and argued with each other (Mark 9:34). He gave them space to try, risk and grow, and was there to help them when it did not work out (Mark 9:14-29). He even washed their feet (John 13:5) and made them breakfast (John 21:9-14). Jesus models that leadership includes hospitality.
Over the last year I joined a group where I am being trained in coaching. We all come from different areas of the country and different perspectives. On top of that, the training requires a great deal of vulnerability for both the person acting as “client,” as they share real issues in their life in front of the group, as well as for the person stepping out as “coach,” as everything they do and say will be reviewed by the team when the practice session is finished. Even so, I always look forward to our training meetings because it is such a hospitable space. Everyone is for one another. There is a freedom to ask questions without feeling embarrassed about not already knowing the answer. And, there is freedom to be myself. Everyone will coach a little differently depending on who they are, their experiences and their style. And that is not wrong. There is hospitable space for people to try, risk, fail, learn, grow and try again. I think this has helped build a team of people that I am always happy to hear from and one where I would be willing to extend myself and my resources to help if they asked. I’m grateful for the leaders of the group who have prioritized creating a hospitable space for all of us.
Is your welcome mat out?
Take a few moments to reflect on how a stranger or “outsider” might feel as they join you for an event, gathering or as a new member of your team. What efforts have you made to be welcoming to new people?
In Romans, Christians were directed to be welcoming to those who had different opinions and perspectives; how welcoming are you to people who see things differently than you? How could you communicate to people on your team that you are open to hear their thoughts and make room for them?
What holds you back from showing hospitality? What obstacles do you see? Take some time in prayer to write them down and then pray and ask the Lord to show you for His perspective. Ask the Lord to reveal ways to show hospitality despite the obstacles.
I think the idea of having to meet everyone’s needs and please everyone is overwhelming. I do not think that is what it means to be a hospitable leader. Let’s start with one thing. What is one thing you could do to make your next meeting more hospitable? Pray and ask the Lord for an idea, then act on it.
A parting word on hospitality:
Hospitable leaders make outsiders… insiders.
What have you seen leaders do to create a hospitable environment?
Working definition of this leadership concept:
Leaders are both spiritually gifted to lead, and are themselves a gift.
Benefits for leaders who are gifted to lead:
1. Gifts are given to be used. Leaders need not be ashamed of their gifts of administration, their ability to form vision, or their God-given talent to organize, strategize and delegate. They can humbly yet confidently offer their gifts and enjoy contributing to the community.
2. If leadership is a spiritual gift, then there is spiritual empowerment (grace) available from God for every need a leader faces. When a leader turns to God to supply what is needed to accomplish God’s will, God may intervene supernaturally, train and/or provide empowerment to the leader, or He may provide other people to help. (See Exodus 3-4.)
Benefits for the community where gifted leaders lead:
1. Leaders are gifted by God to serve and build up the community. (See Ephesians 4.)
2. Leaders are not just gifted; they are a gift. Leaders are a blessing. Communities of people need leaders, and God has graciously supplied them.
Biblical inspiration and support:
In Romans the Apostle Paul says, “3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Romans 12:3–8 ESV, emphasis mine).
Paul is teaching that although we are all one in Christ, we have different functions in the Christian community. We do not decide our own role, but God determines it as He gives us grace. Among the gifts Paul lists here is leading. God gives some people a gracious gift to lead. Imagine what endless resources of wisdom, patience, guidance and more are available to leaders who are spiritually empowered to lead!
In 1 Corinthians Paul writes, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28 ESV, emphasis mine). And earlier in this chapter Paul teaches that each person is given “the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV). These gifts are to be used to build up the community of Christians. Among this list we see administrating. The word translated “administrating” here by the ESV translators is translated “gifts of leadership” by the NET Bible and “forms of leadership” by the NRSV. Again, Paul is teaching that leadership is a spiritual gift. Looking at verse 28 it also seems that just as God provided apostles and prophets to the church, so also he provided leaders. Therefore, I would summarize that God gives supernatural grace to lead and administrate and also that leaders are a blessing God gives to build up the Christian community.
The guys in my family just went on a motorcycle trip. My dad had planned the whole thing. He let everyone know what to pack, he chose a destination and secured accommodations, and he thought through the route. He was the unofficial leader. Everything was looking great and then 20 minutes into the trip one of the motorcycles broke down. My dad was able to assess what was wrong, determine it was not a quick fix, and then he and the rider agreed to park the bike and pick it up after the trip. They talked to the homeowners near where it broke down to get permission to leave it there for the weekend. The rider without a bike joined on a larger cycle with another rider and they continued. Throughout the day the group was met with more obstacles. First a bridge was out, and they had to reroute. Then train tracks were being replaced and they had to backtrack and find a different way. Through it all the leader was a gift. My dad had the experience of many other motorcycle trips, he had thought through the area and alternative routes, and he had the confidence to make quick decisions to keep the trip going. They had a great time. Leaders are a gift.
What gifts of leadership has God given you? Maybe vision? Or strategic thinking? Perhaps administration? Or organization? Recognizing the gifts and talents of others? Team building? Maybe other gifts I have not listed?
As we turn our attention to assessing our gifts it is helpful to highlight two different kinds of errors we often make when recognizing our gifts.
First, we may take our own gifts for granted, devaluing them as we compare them with others’ gifts. We often do not even realize how special our own gifts are, but they are really are! We need to recognize them and invest in developing them. Consider asking a few people to reflect back to you the gifts and talents they see in you.
Another error we might make is that we might see our natural talents, our acquired skills and God’s gracious giftings as our own to use to build up wealth, security and status for ourselves. But God gives gifts to individuals to use to benefit the entire community. We are not to busy ourselves building our own “kingdoms” but to serve God as He extends and builds up His Kingdom. Take a moment to reflect on how you are employing your gifts. Consider praying and asking God to show how you could use your gifts and talents more effectively to build up God’s people and to bless the community.
If God gives grace to lead, what might you ask for in prayer today? What do you need as you lead in your home, workplace, non-profit, and/or church today?
Wisdom? Guidance? Strength? Hope? Vision? Discernment?
Consider praying and asking God for supernatural empowerment to do the work of leading today. Then, take one more step. Take some time at the end of the day to reflect. Ask the Lord to remind you of important moments in the day. Where did you sense the Lord’s grace? Where did you sense you were working from your own strength? Ask the Lord to help you walk more and more in His grace.
A parting word on leadership as a gift:
Leaders lead with God-given grace to serve God and His people.
Lead and be the blessing God has enabled you to be.
How has a leader been a gift to you?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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