What Sets You Apart as a Leader?


It’s true. Nobody may know who you are.

Nobody may care about what you do week in and week out. You may not have fans all over the world. Your hard work may largely go unnoticed.

You’re probably not the most talented, best in the world leader.

Truth is, that’s not so bad.

Because a few people knowing who Christ is, is far better than a thousand people knowing who you are. I know, that sounds spiritually sensational—over the top. But it’s entirely possible to be so obsessed with being known, recognized and adored that you lose your heart.

And that’s what I want to discuss today, leaders—the danger of losing your heart.

Of course, I don’t mean physically. A heart transplant would be a whole new level of intensity. Losing your heart is losing your reason, your purpose, your compassion.

The tricky thing is that it doesn’t happen quickly. It’s a slow drift. No one wakes up and says, “I feel like ruining my life today.”

You’ve been drifting so slowly for so long that you haven’t even noticed you’re lost … until you’re stranded at sea.

I can remember these moments vividly.

Looking out at my church and not caring about them. Feeling more frustrated by their lack of worship rather than a brokenhearted compassion for their lives. Those moments of rushing to “pull off an event” rather than savoring the Holy Spirit’s move in the present moment. Stressing to cross of a “to-do” rather than listening and praying for someone in need.

The rush to the next thing. The discontent with the here and now.

Yes, I would venture to say that your heart is the most important quality of your leadership.

Talent without heart leads to a show.
Leadership without heart is a power trip.
Working without heart leads to the mundane.

What Is Heart?

It’s a great question. Let’s begin with a familiar Scripture you’ve probably quoted hundreds of times: Proverbs 4:23. Let this sink deep with a few different translations:

• “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV).

• “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT).

• “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (ESV).

Everything you do flows from it. It determines the course of your life. From it flow the springs of life.

I’d say that’s pretty important stuff.

You see, the heart is the center of your life, the seedbed of your affections. Since it centers on what you love and care about most, it controls the direction of your life.

The heart knows no logic. Consider falling in love. No price tag is too high, no dinner too fancy. No evening is too late, no responsibility more important.

The heart is powerful. And we are wise to guard it.

You, my friend, are wise to guard it in your leadership.

Skill needs to be in service of heart, not heart in service of skill. That’s the difference between an egomaniac and a servant.

How Does This Happen?

Guarding something is an “always on” activity. Consider the movies you’ve seen where the hero is locked in a cell guarded by a sleeping attendant. What happens? Of course, keys are confiscated and a jailbreak is in order.

Don’t allow a jailbreak in your heart. Watch it, protect it, guard the keys.

See your congregation with eyes of compassion. Keep the fires of honest worship alive. Be real with people. Make eye contact. Pray with unrelenting faith and hope. Cry.

Stop blaming your leadership on the fact that you’re talented. Lead with compassion. Lead with passion. Lead with heart.  

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David Santistevan
David is a Worship Pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA.