Compassionate leadership: Do you have the heart to lead?

(Genesis 18:16-33)

We live in an age in which the focus of most leadership studies and literature focuses very much on a leader’s competence, with very little reference to the issue of character. The preponderance of the materials in circulation shows a huge bias towards the leader’s ability to do the job. However when we look at true leadership, spiritual leadership in particular, there is always a balance.

In my personal view there are three dimensions to a leader’s make-up. Along with other writers on leadership, I often use the following terms to paint a picture of a leader’s make up: the leader’s head, the hand and heart.

  • The head speaks of vision, the ability to see into the future.
  • The heart speaks of the capacity for emotional connection and empathy, the capacity to build and sustain relationships.
  • The hand represents the ability to get things done.

The first great example in the Bible of a leader’s heart is the story of Abraham’s handling of the news that came from angelic messengers about God’s intention to destroy the city of Sodom. Those who are Bible scholars would know that this was the area that Lot, Abraham’s nephew, had moved to and living in. Along with the city of Gomorrah, Sodom was to be destroyed due to the wickedness of its inhabitants.

Even though Lot had deeply offended Abraham during the course of their parting of ways, yet we see Abraham’s deep concern, not just for Lot but for the whole city. As we read through the narrative we see Abraham engage in an audacious intercession (some say petition, others say negotiation) session with the angelic messengers. Beginning at fifty righteous men, he boldly haggled the number down to ten, as the basis on which God would spare the city of Sodom from destruction.

What the narrative shows us is one of the hallmarks of true leadership – the need for a heart that deeply cares about people, regardless of their quirks, past offences or personal flaws.

As long as they are in danger, the leader’s heart must move with love and compassion for them.

If one is to lead effectively, one of the key underpinnings of the leader’s make-up is the need to have a compassionate heart. Compassion is very different to sympathy.

It is the ability to enter into the pain of another person and act with a view to changing the plight of that individual, regardless of personal risks or cost.


Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2017©
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About the Author:
Emmanuel Mbakwe is a Pastor, an apostolic leader, business advisor, leadership coach, mentor, and published author. He is the immediate past General Overseer of the Apostolic Church UK. His vision and heart’s desire is to help people realise their God-given potential and fulfil the purpose of God for the life.

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