Lead Like It Matters to God: Values-Driven Leadership in a Success-Driven World by Richard Stearns. IVP. 240 pages. 2021
Richard Stearns served as President of World Vision for twenty years, after previously serving as CEO of Parker Brothers and Lenox. In this book, he writes that he believes that God is far more concerned about how a leader leads than he is about the success that a leader delivers. The book is about why he believes the values Christian leaders embrace – he writes about seventeen of them – are more important than the success they achieve. He tells us that these Christian values are under assault in our culture, and the book is about reclaiming those values.
He writes that we are to work with excellence and diligence wherever we serve, not because success is our goal but because faithfulness is our goal. He tells us that when we focus first on being faithful to God in our lives, and when our work is driven by the values of God’s kingdom, he may very well bless us with successful outcomes. But qualities like integrity, humility, excellence, perseverance, generosity, courage, and forgiveness matter more to God than the most impressive résumé of accomplishments.
Each of the chapters of the book begins with a scripture passage and a corresponding leadership principle. Throughout the book, the author illustrates each of the values with stories from his life.
A key scripture verse for the author, and one that he had stenciled on his office wall for most of his time at World Vision is 2 Corinthians 5:20:
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
That verse, more than any other, seemed to capture his role as a Christian leader. He tells us that wherever you work or volunteer—in a school, a business, a church, a ministry, a nonprofit, in government, or in your home—you too are called first to be Christ’s ambassador.
I really appreciated this book about values driven leadership, which should be required reading for Christian leaders.
Here are 25 of my favorite quotes from the book:
- When we truly take God with us to work, He will use us for His purposes.
- We reward success, but God’s bottom line is faithfulness.
- Your life is your witness whether you are at work or at home.
- Values-driven leadership is more about character than capabilities, more about being than doing, more about pleasing God than people.
- Work is inherently valuable as we use our unique talents and abilities in ways that reflect God’s own creativity to produce products and services that benefit the broader community.
- Our workplaces matter because they are human institutions filled with people whom God cares about. God wants all people to flourish and to be drawn into relationship with him.
- Good and godly leadership contributes to human flourishing when it creates cultures and environments that are fair, just, and caring.
- Your career is just the setting in which you live out your calling to serve as Christ’s ambassador.
- A surrendered leader is called to a higher purpose: to know, love, and serve God in this life.
- Only by learning to trust God for their careers can leaders truly rise above the daily stresses and pressures of life and bear fruit for the Lord.
- Outcomes do matter. But it is how those results are best achieved that matters more in the long run.
- Excellence means that we will always strive to use the gifts and abilities that God has given us to the fullest extent possible.
- As a Christian leader, your coworkers should be among the main objects of your love of neighbor.
- When you show the people around you that you care, you earn the right to be their leader.
- Rank and title should not determine how you treat people in the workplace—or anywhere else. An attitude of superiority toward others will kill your witness for Christ at work.
- When you, as a leader, make the effort to get to know the people around you at a deeper level, they feel valued and affirmed, and you gain a new appreciation for their unique gifts and abilities.
- The best leaders help people achieve the things that are important to them through coaching, encouragement, and practical direction.
- A leader’s first responsibility is the well-being of the people he or she is entrusted to lead.
- Integrity may be the single most important quality a leader can possess.
- Sometimes there is a price to pay when we try to live out our faith at work. But Jesus never promised us a faith that costs us nothing.
- One of the chief tasks of a leader is to create a vision for a different and better future, and a belief that it can be achieved.
- The place you work is your place of Christian ministry, and you have also been placed there to serve God.
- The best leaders make efforts to become aware of their own weaknesses and shortcomings and learn to understand the magnified impact their words and actions can have on others.
- The people you work with were placed in your life for a reason. You have been entrusted with them for a season. God wants you to be his ambassador in their lives, showing them his love and care.
- A Christian leader can be an island in the storm for people who are hurting in a difficult work environment.