Ministry Leader: Will You Take the Radical Love Test?

There was love in His eyes like no other human being on earth.

Jesus loved even those who rejected Him, like the rich man in Mark 10:17–22. The magnate had everything—money, power, and religious appearance. He sought affirmation from the Jewish teacher to add another feather of respect to his cap. Yet “Jesus looked at the rich man with eyes of love” (v. 21, emphasis added).

Then He made the rich man the offer of a lifetime: trade wealth for an infinitely more valuable possession, eternal life and treasure in heaven. I imagine the rich man may have glanced away to deflect the pure love pouring from Jesus’ grace-filled eyes. He wasn’t looking for a Savior. The man didn’t love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind as he pretended. He loved his life the way it was, so he walked away from Jesus.

The Lord not only showed us radical love but He spoke of an extravagant love that is rarely seen today. When you hear about it or witness it with your own eyes, you recognize this kind of love is only empowered by Him:

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34–35)

Then Jesus raised the flag higher: 

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them . . . But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For he is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. 
(Luke 6:32, 35)

Not the Normal Kind of Love

Gospel love is anything but ordinary. It’s not warm and fuzzy like getting licks from a puppy or holding hands while watching golden sunsets. It’s love that demands a sacrifice. Loving with the eyes of Jesus is giving yourself fully to meet someone else’s need without expecting anything in return. It’s choosing what is best for the other person even if it means creating hardship for yourself. 

Can you envision a church where stories of radical love are multiplied over and over?

  • A large family adopts three poverty-stricken siblings of a different race, who are otherwise destined for foster care. 
  • A couple cancels their lavish wedding plans to contribute the earmarked funds to treat COVID patients.
  • A devastated wife extends love and forgiveness to the drunk driver who stole her husband’s life.
  • A woman fasts and prays all night for a teen in her church who is trapped in drug abuse and gender confusion.
  • An anonymous person donates tuition to a private Christian school for three children whose parents died. 

Perhaps your church is a place where members gladly lay down their lives for each other. (You are blessed!) Lately, it seems the more frequent narrative is Christians warring over mask mandates or whining about the color of the new carpet. Wounds coming from within the church penetrate deeper than wounds inflicted by the outside world.

Think about it: the harm instigated by caustic Christians not only injures the body and destroys the church’s testimony, but Jesus said whatever we say and do to each other is the same as if doing it to Him. I believe Christ will ask of our ministries, Did you love well?Did you show them My love?

When God calls us to lead, He calls us to extraordinary love.

I’ve written this article because I’m asking hard questions of my own leadership. The problem we face isn’t someone else’s issue to resolve (although I wish it were that simple). It’s my problem. It’s our problem. By allowing God to change our hearts, we can be a part of the solution. So, will you take the radical love test with me? Let’s invite Jesus to expose our love deficiency and give us His eyes of love. 

The Radical Love Test

1. Love doesn’t seek self glory.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask you.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them. They answered him, “Allow us to sit at your right and at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:35–37)

  • Are you overly competitive for fear of losing your place in ministry?
  • Do you become jealous when others are more highly regarded?
  • Are you privately glad when another leader stumbles or do you extend her grace and commit to pray for her restoration?
  • Is your ministry making much of Christ or is it a platform to advance your name?

2. Love refrains from insult or retaliation.

When he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

  • Are you bitter toward someone who’s hurt you or not lived up to your imposed expectations?
  • When you've been maligned, do you trust God to defend your reputation or do you demand justice?
  • Are you quick to cancel a friendship that’s become difficult?

3. Love bears all things and isn’t divisive.

Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1–3)

  • Is it possible you are blinded to ways you’ve mishandled relationships by being rude, harsh, abrupt, or demanding?
  • Make a list of anyone you’ve offended in the past. Are you willing to repent before God and to ask the individual(s) for forgiveness? 
  • Are you willing to continue investing in a younger believer when you don’t see immediate results?

4. Love controls its tongue and does what is right no matter the cost.

The one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness, 
and acknowledges the truth in his heart—
who does not slander with his tongue, 
who does not harm his friend 
or discredit his neighbor. (Psalm 15:2–3)

  • Do you criticize or judge others publicly or privately in your heart?
  • Have you cast a suspicious shadow on someone’s reputation, slandered or intentionally shunned them?
  • Do you attract people or repel them by your rough edges and sharp words?

5. Love bears the burdens of others instead of heaping more.

Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.(Matt. 23:3–4)

  • Do you look down on people who aren’t as devoted and driven as you are?
  • Do you overwork to prove you deserve the role you’re in?
  • Are you consistently living out what you teach? 

6. Love does not serve for recognition and honor.

They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called “Rabbi” by people. (Matt. 23: 5–7) 

  • Are you content to receive your reward from God or do you serve for the applause of man?
  • Do you insist on receiving credit for everything you do?
  • Are you willing to serve without being in the spotlight?

7. Love isn’t authoritative.

Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave;just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 10:25–28)

  • Are you more interested in what people can do for you instead of how you can serve them?
  • Do you become impatient and irritated when people get in the way of your ministry work?
  • Are ministry projects a priority over the people implementing them?

8. Love comes from God and enables us to love others.

We love because he first loved us.If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister. (1 John 4:19–21) 

  • Have you tried to “get rid of” someone you don’t like or who poses a threat to your ministry success?
  • Do you look for the best in people or only see what they lack?
  • Are you pursuing the weak, marginalized people who are being overlooked?
  • Do you regularly avoid or ignore persons who are different from you?

9. Love resolves disagreements to preserve unity.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord.Yes, I also ask you, true partner, to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2–3) 

  • Do you have multiple strained or broken relationships with people in ministry?
  • Up until now, have you refused to seek reconciliation with any of them?
  • What differences are you willing to put aside for the sake of unity? 

Only you can truthfully answer these test questions for yourself, but as the Spirit searches my heart, I’m keenly aware of how far I have to go. We can—and should— ask Jesus to do a deep work in us so we can “love on purpose” with His heart.If we each do our part to humble ourselves and resist the enemy who schemes to sever the church into broken fragments, the promised land won’t remain a battlefield littered with wrecked relationships. With God’s help, love truly can bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things in the here and now (1 Cor. 13:7).

There’s still hope for revival in our lifetime if the church unites in love, beginning with its leaders.

About the Author

Leslie Bennett

Leslie Bennett

Leslie Bennett has led Women’s Ministry in two local churches, and serves on the Revive Our Hearts ministry team. She connects with women’s leaders around the world in the Revive Our Hearts Leader Facebook Group and as host of online … read more …

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