The Leader: 2.5 Be a People Person
What leadership qualities does God consider most important?
Notice this proverb about godly leadership: “Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne” (Proverbs 20:28; nkjv). The word lovingkindness can mean good deeds or kindnesses. Truth refers to trustworthiness. The Living Bible renders this verse, “If a king is kind, honest, and fair, his kingdom stands secure.”
If you asked 100 world leaders the most important qualities contributing to the longevity of a kingdom, how many would answer honesty and lovingkindness?
The fact is, God is training people for a different type of government—a perfect government. To build His Kingdom, God isn’t calling today’s governors and presidents and kings, who, for all their expertise and experience, cannot solve this world’s problems. He will build a new civilization altogether. To do that, He is raising up a new type of world leader.
What qualities are tomorrow’s leaders expected to develop? Just look at the scriptural qualifications for ministers (Titus 1; 1 Timothy 3). Notice how different this list of qualifications is from what the world would consider most important.
The leadership qualities God emphasizes revolve around people. Titus 1:8 says a leader must be “a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men ….” The job of a godly leader revolves around people. So he must love hospitality. He must love having people around and extending kindnesses to people. He must love good men.
How much do you love people? True godly leaders must be “people people.” We must love people. We must love to be around people—love to fellowship with people—love to help people and serve people and get to know people.
We must develop our people skills. A leader for God cannot be a recluse. He must enjoy people—because people are what God’s plan is all about! God is creating a Family out of people!
What God’s Love Is
When Jesus Christ was asked which commandment was the greatest, He summed up God’s way of life with two simple statements: essentially, love God and love people (Matthew 22:35-40).
Herbert W. Armstrong defined love as “an unselfish, outgoing concern for the good and welfare of the one loved. Love is primarily on the giving, serving, sharing side of the fence …. True love combines the rational aspect of outgoing concern—desire to help, serve, give or share—along with sincere concerned affectionate feeling” (The Missing Dimension in Sex). Godly love means having an outgoing concern and an unselfish, genuine interest in people.
The Bible says about godly love, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1; nkjv). In other words, if I am the greatest speaker in the world but don’t have an unselfish, outgoing concern for people, my speaking skills are worthless. Without love, big talk is just noise.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (verses 2-3; nkjv). If I do all these “loving” things but don’t have, from deep within, a God-inspired, unselfish, outgoing concern for people, I am nothing!
If you don’t like dealing with people, you will never be a leader for God. You will never make a real contribution in God’s Kingdom.
Christ Was a People Person
Jesus Christ traveled all over Galilee and was very much around people. Throughout His ministry, He gave and gave and gave. He spent time with people almost constantly—people who were asking things of Him.
Mark 6 shows one occasion when Christ and His disciples were so busy that they hadn’t had time to eat! Yet when Christ began to lead the disciples to a private place to rest, a mob followed.
Christ could have said, Enough! We just need some space! Instead, He was moved with compassion because they were “as sheep not having a shepherd” (verse 34).
So what did He do? “[H]e began to teach them many things.” What an attitude! Christ was a genuine people person.
Then something else happened. After spending all day with the people, Christ’s disciples suggested He send them away to get something to eat because they were getting hungry—seemingly a reasonable idea. But what did Christ do? He told His disciples—surely to their exasperation—“You give them something to eat” (verse 37; nkjv). Christ then miraculously fed that great multitude with a few loaves and fishes.
What a powerful lesson for them—and us.
Qualities of People People
Read the entirety of 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter gives a wonderfully detailed picture of what true godly love looks like. It describes how an unselfish, outgoing concern for people actually manifests itself in our lives.
A man with this kind of love will be patient with people. If you are putting yourself out there and spending time with people, you will come in contact with their faults. “People people” love sinners. Of course, they also hate sin, but we have to cultivate God’s love in our lives to be able to overlook each other’s imperfections.
A man with this love is kind; he acts upon his outgoing concern for others. He isn’t selfishly possessive, inwardly focused or exclusive. Instead, he shares love and warmth so others can enjoy it, especially the disadvantaged. This is a measure of the maturity of his love. He is not jealous of another person’s abilities and blessings; he rejoices that God can use those abilities to benefit others. People people love diversity in personality and talents.
With this love, a man is not boastful and arrogant, parading his accomplishments. In conversation, a people person demonstrates humility and puts the focus on the other. He is never rude. He is modest and uses wisdom, handling situations the way God would, always looking out for the other person. He doesn’t insist on his own way. A people person always sees to it that others’ needs are met.
With this love, a man is not easily provoked or irritable, even when tired or stressed. He finds a way to control himself even under difficulty. He is not touchy or oversensitive. Even if someone does wrong him in some way, he lets it go.
People people always give others the benefit of the doubt. They don’t keep track of sins and wrongs. They never hold a grudge. They don’t gossip, or rejoice in others’ downfalls. People people desire more than anything to see others make a success of their lives. They keep sensitive information confidential. They don’t make someone look bad by airing their sins. People people forgive and forget!
A man with this kind of love is “always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient” (verse 7; Moffatt). We live in a poisonous world, steeped in negativity. But if we are thinking like God, we will have a positive, hopeful outlook. We will always set our minds on the positive. See people not for their weaknesses and their failures, but for their strengths and their potential.
Deep in his heart, every man longs for admiration. When he doesn’t get it, it can create big problems in his life. This is a key to really endearing yourself to people: Look for what to admire in them. When you do so, not only will you find it, but the person will often grow in stature as a result of the confidence you place in him or her. As one poet put it, “If you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become that bigger and better man.” This is especially true of children. Look at the young people in your life. Look for their strengths. To the young men, express admiration for the masculine qualities you see. Build their confidence; encourage their potential.
Look at the person who just doesn’t seem to fit in. Everyone has feelings. How much do you really know about that person? If there is someone who doesn’t quite rub you the right way, seek that person out and get to know him. People people are not partial in their respect of persons.
The bottom line is, people people give of themselves. They live the way of give.
A People God
God created people as a means of expanding His Family. Our physical families are only a type—an analogy—of His ultimate goal. The reality is God’s Family. And God wants to invite every member of the human race into that Family (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).
In Galatians 6:9-10, Paul gives us an idea of what that transcendent truth means for us: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
That is a tall order! God wants us to do good unto all men—all people—all potential members of His future Family! It truly takes a people person to follow this instruction.
Barnes’ commentary states about this verse, “This is the true rule about doing good. ‘The opportunity to do good,’ says Cotton Mather, ‘imposes the obligation to do it.’ The simple rule is, that we are favored with the opportunity, and that we have the power. It is not that we are to do it when it is convenient; or when it will advance the interest of a party; or when it may contribute to our fame; the rule is, that we are to do it when we have the opportunity. No matter how often that occurs; no matter how many objects of benevolence are presented—the more the better; no matter how much self-denial it may cost us; no matter how little fame we may get by it; still, if we have the opportunity to do good, we are to do it, and should be thankful for the privilege.”
You have to develop genuine selflessness. You have to love being around people. There are times you may not want to—you may want a break—but you must discipline your emotions and direct your energies away from self and toward them.
That is, after all, how God thinks about the whole world! Are there times God gets disappointed, even angry, because of people’s failings? Of course there are. But He remains positive because He is committed. He is committed to His Family.
God is a “people God”! His plan is a people plan—turning people into God. God loves people! And to be leaders in God’s future world-ruling government, we must love people. We are going to be working with them intensively for as long as we can imagine.