Just Us/Kwame Salter

Kwame Salter

Biblical Lessons on Leadership

“…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”1 Corinthians 13

The great books of all religions are a record of what constitutes right living for their adherents. I am sure that a close of examination of the Quran or Bible would yield insightful wisdom that is still relevant today. For this discussion, I chose to look into the Bible to find something that might be applicable to working with each other in both a personal and business setting. I decided to reread 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Corinthians 13 is often read and quoted at weddings and in sermons. Many consider this biblical verse to be sappy and preachy. Yet, upon closer examination it provides a powerful lesson for anyone who seeks to build a strong relationship with a person or group.

The verse extols the power of love; ranks love above both faith and hope. Like Tina Turner, in her hit song, hardcore business leaders wonder, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” What exactly is this thing called love that a businessperson can get his or her head around? Typically, love is defined as a “deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.”  Yet, in the white-hot heat of business competition, can love really be an effective strategy or tactic?

For those of us in leadership positions, the question that still begs an answer is “what’s love got to do with it?” Well, part of the definition speaks to “a sense of underlying oneness.” It is this part of the definition that is operational in the following discussion. Leaders, to be effective, must create a sense of the team acting in concert — with a sense of “underlying oneness.” Therefore, in reading my explication of Corinthians 13, insert the phrase “underlying oneness” every time the word love shows up.

So, let us get on to the explication of this powerful verse section by section:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Think about the leader who is a smooth, articulate and poised speaker. The words are magic. He/she can explain or justify anything. Walking onstage or at the lectern, their words are mesmerizing, enchanting and, almost, musical. They hit all the right notes, say all the right things, and titillate the senses. For sheer entertainment value they are without peer.