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Chapter 1 - Leadership is Love in Action

For the next 9 weeks I am going to take a slightly different approach to my ponderizing post.
I will still be including my thoughts about a scripture, but it will be related to what I call my personal leadership pattern.  This pattern is broken into 9 chapters.  Today is chapter 1.  

Chapter 1 - Leadership is Love in Action

We have all heard many definitions of what leadership is.  If you asked 100 people to finish this statement “Leadership is . . .” you would likely get 100 different answers.  The problem is that each leader is defining leadership based on what has made them a better leader.  While there are many people who have been successful leaders that are worth emulating, I don’t think that a particular CEO, military leader, religious leader or politician is able to perfectly model the kind of leadership that that is life changing, or better yet, soul changing.  Only by modeling the leadership style of the one perfect being can we begin to approach real leadership.  I have heard the term “Lead like the Savior, but that statement never really resonated with me until I read a passage in  Neal A. Maxwell’s book “A More Excellent Way”.  He said:
"Leadership is love in action. Most human situations in which we are called upon to exercise leadership are in fact those in which there will be little recognition and small applause. Our encounters are apt to be frustratingly drawn-out rather than rapidly performed."  Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way – Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints
This definition, "Leadership is Love in Action", really spoke to me.  This is a powerful principle.  Leading with love is at the core of being able to lead like the Savior.  You can only truly lead like the Savior when you strive to love those you lead like He loves us.  With that type of love in your heart you are more concerned about the flock than you are about yourself.   This principle was demonstrated by the prophet Mormon.  Notice how it says in Mormon 3:12 that he had loved his people according to the love of God that he had within him.
12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.  Mormon 3:12
Consider this quote by Elder Maxwell.
     The prophet Mormon unselfishly consented to lead a people who were in steep decline. He prayed for them, but confided that his prayers were without faith because of the people’s wickedness (see Morm. 3:12) Other times a visionary leader, like Joseph in Egypt, lifts people out of the endangered routine they’re in by preparing them for the specific challenges of the future (see Gen. 41:46–57 A few, like Lincoln, though in a political role, provide spiritual leadership as well. Lincoln, by the way, warned of how individuals of ambition and talents would continue to arise and that such an individual “thirsts and burns for distinction, and if possible … will have it,whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen” (cited in John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln—Man of God [1927], 74; emphasis in original).
      No wonder we have been told, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and this includes self-worship! Ex. 20:3 emphasis added). One way or another, the grossly selfish will finally be shattered, whimpering, against the jagged, concrete consequences of their selfishness.  (Neal A. Maxwell "Repent of our Selfishness" April 1999 General Conference)
     Of unselfish George Washington it has been written: “In all history few men who possessed unassailable power have used that power so gently and self-effacingly for what their best instincts told them was the welfare of their neighbors and all mankind” (James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man [1984], xvi).
     Power is most safe with those, like Washington, who are not in love with it! A narcissist society, in which each person is busy looking out for number one, can build neither brotherhood nor community. Aren’t we glad in this Easter season and in all seasons that Jesus did not selfishly look out for number one?
This idea that leadership is love in action is obvious in the scriptures, but it is often overlooked because we don’t see the words “Leadership is” at the beginning of the scripture.  But if you re-read 1 John 4:7-11 with the question in your mind, “What is Leadership?” then you can easily see what he is trying to communicate to us.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might alive through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  
He is telling us to love one another, but not simply to simply love them, but to follow his example and act in love.  When we have love, then we have a desire to serve.  Elder Russell M Nelson said:
Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (3 Mosiah 2:17)  (Russell M. Nelson, "Teach us Tolerance and Love", april 1994 General Conference.)
A review of the greatest passage of scripture on leadership reminds us that "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood . . . only by love unfeigned".  (D&C 121:41)  N. Eldon Tanner helps us understand what that means.
"To be an effective leader or teacher one must show love and actually feel love for the person he is trying to instruct. No power is as motivating as the power of love. Christ loved everyone—the weak, the sinner, the righteous. Sometimes the ones who need to be loved most are the ones who seem to deserve it the least. Though we may not appreciate or approve of what someone does, we must still show love for the individual". (N. Eldon Tanner, Leading as the Savior lead,)
To truly lead as the Savior lead, we must try to emulate the one characteristic that drives all of his other actions.  He is love.  His leadership is based on love.  He cares for his flock because he loves them.  He loves each of us in was that are incomprehensible to our finite view of eternity.  As we learn to act in love we will become someone who leads more and more live the Savior.


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