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Leadership as Worship By Larry Gadbaugh

What difference would it make if we viewed our calling in leadership as worship?

Following Jesus in our stewardship as leaders includes helping those we lead and live as an act of worship.

Jesus understood that his Father’s calling for him was to lead others to become true worshipers of God [Jn 4:23]. God calls every believer to grow towards Christ-likeness through the renewing of our minds and hearts so that everything we do, in all our relationships and responsibilities, can be offered as our

“living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” [Rom 12:1-2].


Worshiping together in church is crucial, but it should serve as a catalyst to love the Lord with our whole heart, mind, and strength, in everything we do. And, since we spend more time working than anything else, our jobs are key proving grounds for the stewardship of our calling as leaders. Developing our leadership into an offering of worship to God will change us and those we serve.

How do I exercise my leadership in my work environment into an occasion for worship for myself and those I work with?

Worship is a response of loyalty and love to God’s initiative of his grace and truth towards us in Christ.

Directing our non-profit organization for the last 20 years has been a process of learning how to exercise leadership among our staff, our Board, and our supporting constituency in a way that whatever we do,

“…in word or deed, we do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” [Col 3:17].


Over time, I seek a worship mindset in all my leadership responsibilities. I want to approach each team meeting, each annual review, each fund-raising event, each meeting with a giving partner, each board meeting, each budgeting and strategic planning process, as an occasion to present ourselves as an act of worship to the Lord. I want to continue to co-labor with him in advancing the work of Christ through our mission, and motivate and mobilize others to exercise their stewardship in this part of his kingdom.


Whether my leadership takes place in a faith-based context or not, my  first priority is cultivating a mindset of offering everything I do as a response of love to God and an expression of love to those I serve. That has to be pursued through abiding in Christ, since fellowship with him is the only way I will produce fruit that endures [Jn 15:]. My relationship with Jesus in private will determine the person of integrity I need to be in public. The constant crashing of our public leaders is largely due to this disconnection between private and public life.

Turning our work relationships and responsibilities into occasions of true worship will transform us into better followers of Jesus and awaken those we supervise and work alongside to the goodness and greatness of the God we worship.


Since true worship – and leadership – is a whole-life stewardship, cultivating a worship mindset is a work in progress. We worship God in our leadership when:

  • We develop the mission, vision, strategic plans and policies of our organization so that every person we work with and those we serve is treated with the dignity of being made in the image of God – especially those who are most vulnerable.
  • We direct our enterprise to maximize our community influence, our economic impact, and our public voice in a way that promotes the common good.
  • We appropriately express dependence on God in our personal and corporate challenges, and give thanks to God when he meets our needs.

Years ago I took a seasonal job at Costco as a shopping cart cowboy. I wondered, “Can I be as whole-hearted in worshiping Jesus in performing mundane tasks as I do when leading worship in church?” As I drove to the store, I dedicated myself to carry out everything with a mindset of worship. I was delighted to experience the joy and freedom by offering myself as a sacrifice to God.

May the Holy Spirit fill us as we lead our organizations where we carry out our work with hearts full of worship to the God we serve together.


Larry Gadbaugh has served as CEO of First Image (Pregnancy Resource Centers) in Portland, Oregon for 20 years. A former pastor, he and Diane are married for 44 years, with five adult children.


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