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The Heart of a Leader By Cynthia Berry

The Heart of a Leader Following Jesus

It is profound to surmise the current condition of the heart. If the heart, according to Matthew 15:18-20 emphasizes that good and evil are stored there, then in likeness to the physical chambers of the heart, spiritual chambers such as, love, hate; joy, sorrow; generosity and greed also reside. By no means are these chambers exhaustive.

This revelational thrust that good and evil coexist means that placing our intentions and motivations under surveillance, moment-by-moment, day-by-day and decision-by-decision is critical. Further, if the mouth speaks when the heart is in critical condition, the heart calcifies, and causes harm to self, and those being led in the context of a relational or professional role. Most importantly, our relationship with Jesus Christ suffers and clouds the way to lead and love like him.

Jesus, Our Way Forward

How is my heart right now?  I’m perpetually in love with God! I genuinely love and serve others with pure motives by rendering my time and resources. Yet, if I am honest, there are times when I am motivated with an expected outcome of accolades. Or… I purposefully press into Jesus to reconcile my heart to those who have wronged me. Ultimately, the goal of a transformational leader is to lead and resist the temptation to shepherd from a place of estrangement, apathy, or fear toward those who have offended.

The extraordinary news for the human condition is that Jesus provides the way, the truth, and the life for our hearts to seek his restoration in the dailies. A.W. Tozer says it well,

Whatever comes into your heart and mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

That resonates with me because Jesus has made it clear that we cannot do or get anything without him. Like most diseases, catching it in the early stages can heighten our chances that restoration and a cure is possible. This is true when identifying the DIS-ease of a leader’s heart. The ultimate blessings of realigning the heart with Jehovah God ensures access to the reservoir of agape love, forgiveness and the embankment of scripture flourishing in the heart. Therefore, the more of God’s voice enters my heart, the more I can lead, love, and break off offense when interacting with those who are presumed challenging.

God As My Audience

I was released by the senior pastor to launch a women’s ministry at my church. It was thriving intergenerationally. As we began to see God outcomes of exponential growth, leadership began to find ways to trim the efforts back. Their blindsiding actions, as well as setting up a meeting upon which people were released to communicate inappropriately epitomized the evil intent of the heart. I was devastated and questioned in my heart, why this happened when ministry was going so well. Schisms often causes people to leave the church. Clearly, this was not God’s best!

I remained at the church and am there today because I understood God was my audience and with my attitude to serve him, many of the leaders repented. It’s important to emphasize that I did not keep silent about the behaviors, but I remained under the integrity and leading of Jesus to help me navigate and speak up in a godly, direct, and professional way.

A Christ-centric Compass

This unfortunate, but poignant encounter propels me as a servant leader to honor the personhood of others. Bruises of life can take you down two roads, Edging God Out (EGO) or Exalting God Only (EGO). Since we have been given the high calling of influencing souls, it is imperative to humbly surrender to the CEO-Servant Leader, Jesus Christ. This constant acknowledgement of “who I am” and “whose I am” propels us to lead with integrity, amid difficult people. As Phyllis Hennecy Hendrey said, 

“To try counts with God. If we don’t get the heart right, nothing can turn out right.”

That is a hard word, but an infinite truth.

 One of my life verses when leading with a refreshed and intentional heart is 1 Cor. 16:13-16 (MSG),

“Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.”

By no means am I ascribing to being void of heart challenges in certain circumstances. However, a leader’s responsibility is to unveil heart-chambers that could thwart, skew or mute our ability to hear the leading wisdom of God.  The Holy Spirit can provide us with a forward moving, Christ-centric leadership compass so that the good-heart chambers prevail.

A Final Thought

First Peter 1:22 sums it up well,

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

Love is stored in our hearts, which can overshadow the evil chambers of the heart.  We are commanded and called to lead like Jesus so that people know we belong to the Lord and are compelled to follow us! Although there are times I miss the mark, I am convinced that making “My Heart Christ’s Home” by constantly giving him the key to the hidden chambers of the heart is the lifeline of the soul. Jesus is the prescription for the heart of a leader because he alone transcends time and space to propel us forward unto good works.


Quote by A.W. Tozer: “What comes into our minds when we think about G…” (goodreads.com)

Phyllis Hennecy Hendry – CLA (christianleadershipalliance.org)

Lead Like Jesus Revisited: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time: Blanchard, Ken, Hodges, Phil: 9780718077259: Amazon.com: Books

My Heart-Christ’s Home: Munger, Robert Boyd: 9780877840756: Amazon.com: Books

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Cynthia Berry, CCNL, has served at Joni and Friends, an international disability ministry for 15 years. Her current role as a Development Officer is focused on raising support to meet practical and spiritual needs, by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people and their families impacted by disabilities around the world.


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