The Navigator’s Core Leadership Model affirms that a caring leader will know, provide for, and protect those being led. What if a leader is not naturally a care giving person by gifting or heart inclination? A leader not gifted in caring can actually do more harm than good if forced to do so. How must such a leader care?
Every Christ-like leader will ENSURE that those being led have the leadership needed to thrive regardless of the leader’s competence. Within the body of Christ and eventually on every team, there will be people with the strengths and spiritual gifts to provide what others need. So, a given leader may not be the best person to do the caring but will make sure that it happens.
An interesting development has taken place in recent years, at least in certain evangelical circles, where there does not appear to be an urgent concern for the eternal destiny of people. Those who do not claim to be followers of Jesus appear to be living an OK life. Unless tragedy strikes, Jesus followers can be led to think that the smiles and relatively high standard of living of non-believers indicates that life is fine. Fervor for evangelism has seemed to wane. However, what could be a more important act of concern than for the eternal welfare of people?
The second to last discourse of Jesus was to His disciple, Peter, in John 21:15-19 when he told him to feed and tend to His followers. Ensuring that the foundation laid for this new faith community would continue was a priority for Jesus. The “good seed” that had taken root needed to be nurtured. Caring for people is of vital importance. The last discourse of Jesus (Acts 1:6-11) addressed the other aspect of ultimate care for people by communicating the Gospel message. Surely Jesus modeled a core leadership value of caring.
The Apostle Paul understood this care value and wrote so clearly to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-31 “to keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers and to be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Intentional caring as a leader is not an option.
Both Jesus and Paul recognized a dual role of caring, for individuals and community. We may start with a genuine concern for individuals, but leaders also need to learn how to care for the community or flock. Leadership is more than thinking about a person—there is the concern for corporate good as well. If you can’t think beyond the individual you may put the flock at risk. Deciding what’s good for the whole can feel like betrayal if you most naturally care for individuals. Sometimes the good of the many outweighs the good for the one.
In summary, a caring leader will seek to know those being led by invested focused time together. This caring leader will seek to provide for those being led by ensuring health spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, and in all other ways. Also, care is shown by protection from the Enemy, from hostile people, and from oneself. Leaders cannot provide all the care needed personally or through delegation, and that is why perhaps the most caring function a leader like Jesus can do is to pray. We need look no further than Jesus’ prayer in John 17 to see the way He cared through praying. May we be known most of all for our regular, disciplined, and informed prayer life for those we have the privilege to serve as a leader.