7 min
By: Kaye Olivar

Ask the Campus Directors: What do we mean by “Leadership is Relationship”?

We may be familiar with the phrase “Leadership is Relationship.” But have you ever thought about what this actually looks like? In this article, we ask regional director for North Luzon, Pastor Jenson Naceno, about this.

For the past weeks, I had the privilege of talking with leaders in our movement who have been pursuing their call for many years. I entered the School of Campus Ministry thinking that I will learn a lot about strategies and the step-by-step instructions of how to lead. But the more I converse with these seasoned leaders, the more I realize that leadership isn’t solely about being good at growing an organization. Growing our leadership skills is also essential. However, we are called to make disciples of all nations, so God’s way of starting and enriching that journey remains the same—through relationships

I had the privilege of talking with Pastor Jenson Naceno and no matter what question I had, every answer led to this principle: Leadership is relationship

First, relationship with God.

The weight of our leadership responsibility could easily crush us if we don’t understand that the mission is not about us. We are commissioned, sent to take part in the mission. But the initiator and the one who wills and causes all things to succeed from time past until now is God. Like everyone else, we all have the temptation to fall into two things: sin and self-sufficiency

I strongly believe that our calling is one of the most powerful revealers of character and refining tools God will use to chisel us to be the masterpiece He meant us to be. We’re not in a leadership position because we have proven ourselves to have achieved perfection. But like the apostle Paul we are still in the process of straining toward the goal of becoming like Christ. We still feel tensions from within, the push and pull in our hearts, and the fight to choose obedience at all times.

Pastor Jenson reminded us that we are no longer just responsible for ourselves, but our actions and choices will also affect others. This is why as leaders, it’s important that we watch our personal walk with God with all diligence so that we avoid compromise or falling into sin. Our first responsibility is our personal response to God about matters of our hearts. 

When we fail to look at God, we resolve to look at ourselves. We look to ourselves for answers and strategies. Without God as Lord over our plans, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are in charge and the success of our ministries depends on us. What a false and dangerous self-assurance.

Second, relationship with others. 

We will all at some point be tempted to prove ourselves and to look at our position. Could it be that the pressure you’re feeling today is actually rooted in the desire to prove something? Pastor Jenson reminded us of the importance of having relationships with people who will not be afraid to be honest with us and who we can be vulnerable with. We need to ask and give people the permission to speak into our lives—to build us up; comfort, refresh, and affirm us; and also, point out anything that has the potential to destroy us. We’ve heard it before, we need to be accountable to someone. But we were also reminded that Accountability is not demanded; it is sought.”

Pressure can also blind us at some degree. When we let it take over our hearts, we start to become numb and eventually we lose sight of what truly matters. We start to look at people as numbers, checklists, phases, and eventually we lose touch with God’s compassion. But people are people. They are valuable because Christ died for them. 

When asked about how to effectively raise leaders, Pastor Jenson didn’t talk about strategies. Through him, we were reminded that in order to raise leaders, we must be able to speak into their lives. To build leaders, we must first have relationships with them, be a shepherd to them, invest time and effort, and journey with them. Hear from God about what He is doing in their lives, and make sure that we’re walking in step with Him. Know where they are in life, sit down, pause, pay attention, and listen to their stories. Love them well. 

When was the last time we enjoyed the privilege of having them in our lives and sat with them to enjoy the moment without any “leadership agenda”? 

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

Let’s be faithful to God and be diligent with what’s been entrusted to us. Let’s be a shepherd to a flock we’re called to lead and seek His will at all times. Let’s be willing to learn, be humble, and watch the way of our Shepherd who has great compassion for us all.

About the author
Kaye Olivar

Kaye is an incoming Campus Missionary from Every Nation Campus Bataan. She’s an ENFP who loves to do random things, write, call her dog just to tease him, or read a good book. When she’s not serving the students in the campus, she’s by her window, painting book covers, just for fun.

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