If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any one of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. . . A negative term has been substituted from a positive . . . The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. — C.S. Lewis
The poignant words struck my soul. What if we lived and led by Lewis’ observation? What if we focused less on self-denial and more on self-giving? What if love, instead of duty, marked our days more often?
From this perspective, the pressure to do more, work harder, live better wanes. We focus less on fixing ourselves and more on fostering good things in others. We start viewing our roles—as wives, moms, friends, and bosses—not only as the means by which God cultivates our own character, but also as the conduits by which we display God’s kindness.
How do we cultivate this type of culture in our homes and ministries? How to we lead out of love, worrying less about ourselves? Here are 3 thoughts:
Atmosphere of Abundance – Our perspective of God determines our perception of self and our posture toward others. If we see God as an exacting judge, then we’ll always focus on the places we fall short. Self-denial becomes the only way we can control our situation and avoid God’s disapproval.
But if we see God as an abundant giver, stewardship replaces self-protectiveness. God’s grace moves us toward generosity. Confident in his care and control over our circumstances, we love and lead others with no strings attached. Our focus shifts, our insecurities settle, and we share his kindness, trusting there is always enough to go around.
Attitude of Stewardship – As we lead from a place of abundance instead of scarcity, our approach to leadership changes. We don’t have to earn the opportunities we enjoy. And we don’t have to control and keep them either.
So we start to act as stewards instead of bosses, as conduits instead of control freaks. We trust God to give us and others what we need. Our leadership becomes more about developing people and less about protecting ourselves.
Action of Service – Suddenly service doesn’t seem so scary. And selflessness feels less forced. Others’ happiness brings us joy too.
Service no longer seems like a place of weakness but a posture of strength. We stoop down, excited to see how God will use a simple action to help someone else. The places once parched by feelings of self-denial are now filled as we give ourselves to something greater than us and ours. The life-giving cycle repeats itself again and again—cultivating happiness in others and bringing it back to us as well.
Such shifts in our leadership take time and intentionality. They’re made by a thousand small choices to share, steward, and serve. Today, how will you choose to lead by loving? How will you change the culture of your home, ministry, and workplace one generous, happiness-pursuing act at a time?