Lead with Love

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13 NIV

Happy Valentine’s Day! It almost feels strange to say that to you, knowing that you love deeply and daily. Jesus said that His disciples; His followers and students, would be known by love. This love is a lifestyle that is an overflow from His love in our life; it describes us and is the content of our character.  It is the greatest commandment and our greatest joy to love God and love our “neighbors”. Certain days of the year may prompt us to say it and show it in more poetic and calorie-filled ways, but if you only say or show it on February 14th how believable is your message?

You have been given influence and a mission field. Your home, workplace, campus, gym, club, church, neighborhood, and everywhere else you go, carries the opportunity and responsibility to lead with love. Every human being has the need to be acknowledged, affirmed, appreciated and shown affection. Just looking someone in the eyes, smiling and greeting them makes a person feel important. Making positive statements about having someone in your life, on your team, as a friend, or as a part of your day encourages and affirms their efforts.

“Thank you” are powerful words that recognize and appreciate the effort that someone has put into cooking, getting a job done, coaching, preaching, teaching, cleaning, learning, etc. Appreciation responds to the love, respect, service, or response to a request, that was shown to you. Showing appreciation humbly honors people for contributing to the needs, comforts or concerns in your life. Appreciation also guards our hearts from becoming expectant and prideful.

Affection takes place through each of these actions and reactions, but it is important to show and tell the people in your life that you love them. Some people think they express their love by doing, and therefore think they do not need to say it. Others think just saying it is enough, but neither of these follow God’s model for love. God is love, speaks love and shows love. Jesus even spoke and showed love for those who sentenced Him, and those who nailed Him, to the cross by asking the Father to forgive them. Forgiveness is a strong expression of love; it speaks to the value of the person and that who they are is more important to you than what they have done. Since “love never fails,” never fail to love.

One of the most powerful ways to show love is to pray for someone. In a performance-based world that has tricked us into thinking that we usually don’t “measure up,” it is a powerful gift to pray God’s presence, provision, protection, and power over a person who feels alone, hopeless, worthless, vulnerable, or afraid. Most people have been hurt by performance-based “love,” which is really manipulation and not love at all. Jesus told us to love our enemies. If you withhold affection in an effort to get people to behave a certain way, reevaluate based on God’s love for you. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Even more than telling someone that you love them, tell someone that God loves them. Explain what that looks like because “For God so loved the world, that He sent His one and only Son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). God’s love sent, God’s love sacrificed, and God’s love is sustained throughout time. God’s love is always and forever.

I pray that your life is a love story that gives Jesus glory! Will you please join me in prayer now?

Jesus, thank you for showing Your love. Thank You for showing us what a life of love looks like as we seek to live in the example, abundance and overflow of Your love. Guard our hearts so we are not led astray with false love that manipulates us to measure up to human expectations that change with mood and circumstance. Prompt us to look around and acknowledge the people around us and to be present with them. Help us to remember that love is patient and kind and convict us when we are not speaking or acting in ways that express love. Thank you for the people you have put in our life who love us and for all the people you put in our life to love and show Your love on Valentine’s Day and every day.

Serving Him with Gladness,

Kathy Branzell