Benefits for leaders who are zealous:
Half-heartedness is no fun. Wholeheartedness is satisfying!
Benefits for the community with zealous leaders:
Zealous leaders inspire, motivate and equip their communities.
Biblical inspiration and support:
When Paul wrote to the churches in Rome about spiritual gifts, he told those gifted with leadership to lead with zeal:
“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 12:6–8, ESV, emphasis mine)
The Greek Lexicon offers the following definition for the word Paul used that is translated “zeal” in Romans 12:8 (ESV) above: “earnest commitment in discharge of an obligation or experience of a relationship, eagerness, earnestness, diligence, willingness, zeal” 
It seems Paul is directing Christians who lead to do so with both eagerness and, at the same time, a serious diligence. There is also the sense of “willingness.” We see a similar idea (different Greek word) in 1 Peter:
“5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:1–4, ESV, emphasis mine))
Here again we see that overseers are to shepherd God’s people not because they are forced to do so, but because they are willing to do so. Leaders are to lead not so as to prosper at others’ expense, which would be shameful, but rather leaders should lead with a serious, focused energy so that all may prosper together.
A friend of mine recently reminded me that when we think of zeal we need to constantly balance it with love. For example, if accomplishing the work we think God has given us to do becomes more important to us than loving people (our team, our family, those we serve…)—to the point that we might even see individuals as obstacles to that work instead of objects of mercy (Romans 9:23)—well, our zeal is misdirected. We should be zealous in loving one another. I am become more and more convinced that how we live and relate to one another is more important than the goals we accomplish. As I work zealously I think I need to ask myself, am I still wearing compassion, kindness, humility, patience and love? (Colossians 3:12-17)
 Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 939–940). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, σπουδή, ῆς, ἡ.
I think Carol Kent is a zealous leader. I began attending the Speak Up with Confidence Conference that she leads over ten years ago, and her energy, enthusiasm and excellence were inspiring. I continued attending annually and was invited to join the conference team as part of the faculty several years ago. Over the years I have witnessed her continuing to bring energy and focus to every meeting and in every communication. I believe she is confident that God has called her to equip speakers, writers and leaders for the work He has called them to and she takes every opportunity to equip people and to help people make important connections with others. I have been touched that in personal conversations, although she has so many things to think about that could distract her, she chooses to focus on me and be interested in my life and journey as a Christian communicator. I see in her the powerful combination of knowing the work God has called her to do and answering with a willing heart that brings an energy and a focus to all she does, and it inspires me.
Are you a willing leader?
Are you a willing leader? Or have you found yourself leading without ever really choosing to lead? Or perhaps even if you chose at one point, you are not sure if you had the chance to choose again today you would still choose to be in this leadership position?
If you are not so willing you might reflect, what has stolen your eagerness? What has dimmed your excitement? Today might be a good day to ask the Lord to confirm what His will is for you in regards to your leadership position. This is very important and you might invite a few trusted Christian friends or mentors to pray along with you.
It might help to remember that leadership was listed as a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8) and so there is spiritual empowerment to lead as we align our will with God’s will. As we turn to obey God, He works in us “to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13, NIV)
Pray for zeal.
If you are no longer eager for the work you have to do, consider praying and asking the Lord for help. There is spiritual empowerment for leading with zeal (Romans 12:8), and so zeal is something I feel confident in asking the Lord to provide. I pray for your encouragement as I write this.
A final word:
It is a joy to lead with zeal!
From A to Z it is a joy to lead God’s way!
How has a zealous leader inspired you?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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