22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Epistle to the Galatians is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians of Galatia.
In Galatians 5:22, the first fruit mentioned is “love.” And no wonder as love is above all other commandments. In this passage, this kind of love is "agape" or unconditional love. Some people think that being a leader means that you are “the BOSS” and have the power and control. Love is not about power and control. It’s about putting the well-being of others ahead of your personal desires.
Leadership is a relationship between those who lead and those who follow. Effective leaders encourage the hearts of their employees to carry on through genuine acts of caring to draw people forward.
Love is an important component of leadership that begins in the person. It can have biblical roots, but manifests in attitudes and behaviors that provide for leadership effectiveness.
The second fruit is Joy. How can you lead with joy? Joy is not the same as happiness; happiness depends on circumstances, joy comes from a relationship with God. Your relationship with God allows you to overcome the feelings of the circumstances. You cannot lead effectively from a position of anxiety and distress. These things cloud the heart and mind. Your thoughts become fuzzy and fear takes over.
Where is the joy in that? Like the words of the song I learned in Sunday School says, "this JOY that I have, the world didn’t give it to me and the world can’t take it away."
Peace is the third fruit of leadership. PEACE is more than a notion. The Bible tells us that the Peace of God passes all understanding. Peace is an inner quality that is evident, but unexplained in great leaders – it is quiet confidence, courage, composure and single mindedness. It’s also the ability to usher in peace in times of turmoil.
The fourth is a doozy – Longsuffering. How many of you have endured the annoyances of people on your job, in your home and at your house of worship? This is the fruit that I personally struggle with the most. This fruit requires a leader to exercise patience and mercy in difficult situations.
Instead of telling someone off, you offer to pray with them. Instead of walking out and slamming the door behind you, you quietly ask them, how can I best help you. When you practice this fruit, you are not short-tempered.
Next is Kindness – it is truly the activity of love with an emphasis on the gentleness of character that produces pure motives. Kindness is a gracious attitude toward others - even toward the unwilling and resistant. People in organizations want to be treated kindly. Showing kindness to others is akin to what is called The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you."
The sixth fruit of leadership is Goodness. Goodness is a quality of moral excellence or of uprightness. It is to be righteous and of good character. Character can be found at the core of the person. It is demonstrated in the leader’s decisions and actions.
The seventh fruit is Faithfulness. A leader walking in this fruit is loyal and dependable; they can be counted to fulfill their responsibilities. They show up physically, spiritually and mentally to their calling. In other words, they are fully present and ready to lead.
Gentleness is the eighth fruit of leadership. Gentleness is a quality of being meek, not weak. Meekness is a strength that allows a leader to accommodate another’s weakness. A leader actively seeks ways to build the strengths of others, so that they are not governed by their weaknesses.
The last fruit is perhaps the most challenging for many people. It is Self-Control. Leading with the fruit of Self Control keeps you in check. Fits of anger will not be your calling card. This fruit will not allow you to have a romantic relationship with someone who reports to you. It will also help you to hold your tongue and refrain from spouting off your title whenever you are challenged.
This passage of scripture ends with “Against such things there is no law.” Why? I suspect that it is a reminder that these characteristics are not against the law of man of which there were hundreds when this passage was written. Leaders abide by the law of man and of God, so as not to bring shame on the business, the organization, themselves or God.
If you want a recipe for leadership – use Galatians 5:22-23 as your guide. We are all leaders in some capacity. It may be on our jobs, in our homes, in the church or in the community. If you have children, you lead them intentionally and unintentionally by your words and actions. Everyone leads in one capacity or another – what Epistle will your walk and your words say about you?