A Question for All Leaders: Will You Make it Safe? (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this post series, I introduced the question that is one of the most important ones followers ask of leaders – whether they vocalize it or not. “Will you make it safe for me or will I have to defend myself?”

In Part 2, I zeroed in on the first good answer to the question: I will make it safe because I will earn your trust over and over again.

In this post, a focus on the second good answer a leader can offer.

To consider the second answer, I’ll begin with a question: What is it you want for and in those you lead? What do you want your leadership role to foster in them? While we’re all different, I’m guessing we all might agree on a few things.

We want those we lead:

  • To follow Christ intimately
  • To love others relentlessly
  • To be faithful in doing the work of ministry
  • To be courageous and innovative in designing programs and connecting with people

In short, we want to inspire and empower the people we lead to be fruitful and effective in ministry. And if that’s what you want in those you lead, fear kills and love works. As much as it may work against what our society would predict.

And this isn’t just a Christian viewpoint. More and more secular leadership research is focussing on the power of love in leadership. I’ve included some links below if you’re curious. Tamara Woodbury, for one, writing in the Oxford Leadership Journal, has identified a critical problem with leadership influenced by a culture routed in the religion of self.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that fosters looking through the lens of fear while it tends to sexualize or trivialize our expressions of love. Many of our leadership practices are motivated by fear, and even when we are not conscious of fear, it is often insidiously present. Our work cultures and structures are rooted in the fear of some imagined consequence. In the worst of cases, organizations actually benefit economically from perpetuating fear.

Her proposed antidote? Love. And Oxford isn’t known for its Judeo-Christian approach to anything.

How much more should Christ’s disciples fight fear and let love lead?

And that brings me to the second important answer to the question: Will you make it safe?

life-preserver


The Leader's Answer #2: I will make it safe because I will not impose a threat when you 
take risks and fail. 

One of the leader’s most important weapons in the battle against fear is to make your church, ministry, small group or Sunday School class a safe place to take risks, a secure place to be bold, and a merciful place in which to fail. Mercy foils fear.

As I’ve stated before, this doesn’t imply the absence of accountability and it doesn’t mean that expectations of excellence are out of place in New Testament community. But it does mean that a leader is not just full of the Spirit, but full of grace.

The beauty of this approach? It is an important key to everything you want in those you lead. It draws followers to Christ, emboldens them to love more deeply, and makes your ministry more fruitful. Eradicating fear from your leadership doesn’t cost you anything, except a culture of anxiety, spiritual shallowness and work that doesn’t bear fruit.

In the final post in this series, the leader’s third answer to the question, “Will you make it safe?”


References

Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World

Leadership: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Let Love Inspire Your Leadership

Love Leadership

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