By Jenni Catron
The Leader’s Greatest Commandment
Leadership is hard. It’s a difficult calling and responsibility. If I finish my life and haven’t left a mark or made an impact that was significant to another person’s life, I won’t be content with that.
It’s my “holy discontent,” the term Pastor Bill Hybels has coined to describe the deep passion within us that moves us to make a difference. My holy discontent is to be an extraordinary leader. I want to jump out of my skin, inspired, when I see an extraordinary leader in action. I want to go into hiding and never emerge again when I fail remarkably in critical leadership moments. I want to study, learn, grow, and develop as a leader because I believe that great leadership is essential. It’s necessary.
The search for extraordinary was born from this unquenchable passion to be a better leader. As I began to find myself in more and more leadership environments, I became increasingly aware of my inadequacies and inconsistencies as a leader. While I certainly had strengths that allowed me to lead in the first place, I also had some glaring deficiencies. I could either choose to mask my weakness or I could do some soul-searching and study great leaders to identify what was holding me back from truly being extraordinary.
While I quickly gravitated to studying the lives of historical leaders and biblical heroes, extraordinary emerged for me in the most common of these examples. Perhaps I thought I would discover this never-before- identified extraordinary leader who would radically change my view of leadership. I did find an example that radically changed my view of leadership, but I found it in one of the most foundational elements of my faith.
In the gospel of Mark, chapter 12, Jesus was being challenged with controversial questions about taxes and the resurrection. The final question posed to him was, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (v. 28 esv). Jesus responded with a fundamental biblical truth known as the Shema or more commonly understood as the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (v.30). Then he proceeded to give those questioning him the second-greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself ” (v. 31).
In Jewish tradition the Shema is recited three times a day as part of devotional life. According to the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, “Within the Shema is found both a fundamental doctrinal truth and a resultant obligation. There is an urgency connected to the teaching: the word sh’ma demands that the hearer respond with his total being to the fact and demands of this essential revelation.” Love God. Love others.
The Shema, or the Great Commandment, has enormous implications for us as leaders. This is where extraordinary is found. Within the Great Commandment is the model for extraordinary leadership. The more I’ve studied and read about leadership, the more formulas I’ve tried and the more strategies I’ve created, the more I’ve found my leadership theory keeps coming back to these original commandments of Jesus.
When Jesus asked us to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he was essentially saying that we should love God with all of ourselves—with everything in us. When he says love your neighbor as yourself, again the implication is to love with all of who you are.
And so when I consider my life as a leader, it means leading with all of who I am for the benefit of God and others. Leadership requires all of me—my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. To not give all of me would be to shortchange God and others of what God has given me.
We can’t lead without our heart. We can’t lead without our soul. We can’t lead without our mind. We can’t lead without our strength. We are integrated, messy, complicated humans, and when we learn that leading from all four of these dimensions is essential, we free ourselves to lead more fully.
This is an excerpt from Jenni’s book The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership: The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach. She is the author of several books including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.