when our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. and kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another. then we went on board the ship, and they returned home. [acts 21:5-6]


leadership requires relationship.


i have seen a lot of war movies and read a lot of historical books on war and military leaders.

i have seen a lot of documentaries and read a lot of articles and books on leadership in all walks of life.

i have spent a great majority of my life – studying God’s word as it pertains to leaders.

and, i have walked, albeit super imperfectly, as a leader in the body of Christ for some 40+ years.

i could share with you much wisdom and insight that i believe i have learned about leadership — but there is one conviction i have from the Lord’s word and from the Spirit’s voice that echoes thru my life and experience and ongoing repentance:  leadership requires relationship.


let me first define leadership with a word – influence.

biblically, this is what parents, pastors, disciplers, deacons, and every servant of the gospel is called to have through the person and work of the Spirit — infuence. hear that again — every servant of the gospel is called to lead (influence) — because the Holy Spirit lives in them.

that can look very different, come through many different personalities and gifts of the Spirit, and even result in different kinds of responses and fruit. however, in Christ, because of the Spirit living in us — we are called to have influence in other’s lives. yes, he does all the eternal work and fruit, but he calls us to be vessels, vessels of influence.


to that end …

i have seen believers with positions of leadership who have little to no influence because they are trying to direct, guide, produce, plead, plan — without relationship. that is they are leading … without relationship.                        (i have been guilty of this.)

and …

i have seen believers with positions of leadership who do relationships well but they are not directing, guiding, pleading, praying, and planning. that is, they have relationships … but they are not leading.


paul was a man of influence. there were many factors involved in his influence for the kingdom, but these two things are visible all throughout the book of acts: 1) he was a leader (he spoke, prayed, planned, directed, served, guided, pleaded, and more) and, he was relational (he invested his very heart and life into others).

being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. [1 thessalonians 2:8]


we often think we can just love people well and that is enough in our leadership. parents, loving your kids is paramount, but you also must lead them as you love them.

we often think we can just lead our team or ministry or family – “we are going here, we are not going here, let’s go!” but leadership without love is a clanging symbol (a fun but really annoying part of a band without the rest of the instruments)! (1 corinthians 13:1-2)



think and pray. where has God given you influence? where are you called to lead with relationship?

are you leading (influencing from the Spirit)?

are you giving yourself away in relationship (from the Spirit’s love)?


Jesus did both. he didn’t just come and lead or just come and love.

he came to be with us, identify with us, and live among us.
and …
he came to lead us: he died and rose again conquering death and sin.


he made you right with him (leadership),

so you could be with him (relationship).


Spirit –

lead us with direction and love.

to give ourselves away as leaders in relationship.



~ john ryan