I cannot begin to tell you about my love for this team of people. This was my first summer as a director for CentriKid Camps, and in the second picture, our Ryder truck had just broken down for the 4th time (It broke down 5 times that summer). Instead of complaining, they smiled and began unpacking the truck into a new one. They were some of the most genuine, caring people I have ever had the joy of spending time with, let alone, had the gift to lead.
I was a very green leader, and these folks had the great opportunity (or misfortune) to be my leadership experiment. I learned more during that summer than I thought was possible. I learned that there is no shortcut to training and that you must walk with those you lead through the details of a new project so that they feel comfortable and are doing the task with excellence. I learned that you must laugh with those you lead, even if that is at yourself when you say things that don't make sense. I learned that a few words of affirmation from a leader can make all the difference in the way someone carries themselves. I learned that it's okay to be human when you are a leader and to let your team know when you've had a rough day or when you are overwhelmed with excitement. Most of all, I learned that there is no point in leading unless you lead with love.
John Maxwell says it well, "You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them."
I love this quote, but I would disagree with Maxwell slightly. You can lead people without loving them, but not for long. You can lead by the authority of the role you have been given and make others follow you by brute force, but even in the best circumstances, this only lasts a few weeks. But if you love those you lead, your leadership will have no bounds. Leading through love just makes leading a whole lot more fun, anyway.
It doesn't matter if you lead a team of 400 executives, a family of 5, or even a friend who looks to you as a guide, those who follow you will know you by your love. I don't think most leaders realize how much a short conversation of encouragement or a note to say thanks can mean to those they lead. Parent, you are a leader. Sunday School teacher, you are a leader. Friend, you are a leader. Lead in love today.