What’s Love Got To Do With Godly Leadership?

I started this blog to focus on Essential Godly Leadership and what God’s Word has to say to us in leadership roles. But, today, I’m turning to that great theologian, Tina Turner, to introduce the topic of love. In her song, What’s Love Got To Do With It, she sings, “what’s love got to do with it but a second-hand emotion. Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” Now, while this is an 80s pop song, there are some perspectives that can seep into leaders’ minds. Leaders can come to believe that good leadership is leading without emotion and not getting too attached, so you don’t get burned! 

In this season of love, I want to propose another perspective – that love has a lot to do with leadership! Now I’m not talking about the love my wife and I have after nearly 32 years of marriage. I’m not talking about how I love the Chicago Cubs. I’m not even talking about the way we love God. I am talking about our love for God and our love for people and how those influence, inform, and inspire our Godly Leadership

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

I believe there are at least four expressions of love in our leadership:  


For too much of my life, I have lived with a default of disappointment and criticism. Why wasn’t X done properly, and how can we make Y better. I’m not sure where it came from. I’ve always had to fend for myself and always have had a drive to achievement and perfection. 

Over time I saw how Godly leaders in my life reacted to my mistakes and shortcomings. In and through love, time and time again, I have seen Godly leaders extend grace and compassion to me. Have you ever had that moment when you knew you blew it and were conjuring in your mind how horrible the results were going to be as a result of your shortcomings? We’ve all been there. But when your shortcoming is met with grace, compassion, and love, it’s literally the most wonderful feeling in the world – the feeling of love. Love through compassion and grace. 

I am far from perfect on this score. I still am who I am. And there are times to get better and push for advancement. However, the more I lead in love through grace and compassion, the better leader I become. We learn this from Jesus in Matthew 9:36: “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”


Ephesians 4:15 says, Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Notice the correlation between love, truth, and maturity. It is essential for the Godly Leader to speak the truth in love to mature as a leader. Unfortunately, too many leaders go to one of two extremes – they avoid talking about the hard stuff, or they shove it down your throat. The mature, Godly Leader shows love to those he/she leads by speaking the last 10%… but doing so in love with kindness, compassion, and grace. 


I’m not sure where the phrase “I love you, man” came from originally. There was a 2008 movie with that title, but the phrase has been around a lot longer than that. As a leader, we certainly have to be cautious with our words. We don’t want them to be taken the wrong way in a relational advancement sort of way. However, there are times in relationships when expressing a philia (friendship) love is an incredible way to be a Godly Leader. I love you, man, is the type of phrase that works great to express love, gratitude, and friendship. 

Let me also say, as an aside, to tell your friends, and especially your family, regularly, out loud that you love them. Some leaders take the perspective that “I told you before that I love you, and if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” That strategy does not work for the Essential Godly Leader. We need to be the ones that lead the league in speaking love. 


John 15:13 puts it this way: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We need to, when it is in our power, act and show love. That could be the generosity of time, money, care, etc. In order to be generous with your time, talents, and treasures, it takes sacrifice. To help a friend move, that’s your Saturday. To hang out for coffee and talk through issues will take your Tuesday evening. To give a friend in need a financial blessing means taking something off your shopping list. 

The key to all of this is your heart. 1 Corinthians says that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Love leads us to generosity and sacrifice. The goal is not to extend these out of guilt or compulsion but out of the love that the Lord has lavished on us. 

Those expressions of love are what love’s got to do with it!

We could talk a lot more on this topic, but we’ll leave it there for now. What are your thoughts or questions? Leave them in the comments. If you found this blog helpful or thought-provoking, please subscribe below to receive a new blog in your email every other Tuesday morning. Also, if you think this blog would benefit others, please share it on social media or tell a few friends about it! 

Love being on this Essential Godly Leadership journey with you!

Essential Godly Leadership: “Leading your life, your family, your work, your relationships, and your world in a way that is seeking wisdom from, and pleasing to, the Lord Jesus.”


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