How to be an unforgettable leader who makes others win through kindness

On the better side of pain and suffering

Lead others with kindness

Leadership is linked to kindness.

Kindness towards people in pain (any pain), produces immediate  influence in that person’s life.If you want to increase your leadership and influence in the lives of those you care about most, practice kindness. It’s just that simple. Not a false kindness made only of words; but something real that emanates from deep within your heart.

You know why I now understand this to be true? I’ll tell you…

It was a Wednesday morning when it first started.

I crawled out of bed as usual, ready to get started on my day’s work. With a movement as simple as putting on my pants, it felt like someone hit me in the middle of the back with a hammer. That is the only description I can offer. One of the worst pains I’d ever felt in my body had me on the floor in my previously silent and still bedroom, screaming with pain.

I woke the kids, and my wife.
Out of full disclosure, back pain was nothing new to me. I’d felt this same sort of pain many times before, just not to this level of severity. So I knew instantly what had happened.
Over the next few days, the pain gradually lessened, and I prepared to preach my Sunday morning church service (Oh, in case you didn’t know, I’m a pastor). 
My  “walking stick” (otherwise known as a cane), was something I’d grown accustomed to using around the house; but the thought of using it in public was very humbling to me. As I’ll explain in a moment, my capacity for humility and understanding of other people’s pain was about to be awakened in a hurry.
Sunday morning, I stood in front of my church with my “walking stick” and preached the sermon I had prepared. The feeling of being able to do what I love best was especially exciting that day.
After a restful afternoon, with somewhat less pain, my family again traveled back to our church for the second service of the day.

But later that Sunday night, something changed…

My wife and kids had already went to bed; and I remained in the recliner, resting for a few more minutes before taking the 30 foot walk to our bedroom. But when I got up…
A searing pain began shooting down my right leg.
It started at my hip and ran all the way down to my right foot. To get to bed, I literally had to drag my right leg behind me. Once I finally lay down in the bed, the pain began to subside a little and I thought to myself, “I really overdid things today. Tomorrow I better take it easier until my back and my leg get better.”
This was not to be the case.
On Monday morning, I couldn’t get out of bed.
Any movement produced the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.
The pain had increased by 10.
Monday was spent in the bed. I didn’t eat. I couldn’t use the restroom. I couldn’t move…I moaned in utter pain. Around 3:30 p.m. I finally told my wife, “I’ve got to get some help!”
To shorten this story of mine, let me just say…
  • I was in the emergency room twice.
  • A brand new doctor saw me because the ER refused to do anything for me.
  • Thankfully, an MRI was ordered and I was scanned in only a few hours.
  • Upon seeing the condition of my back, I was admitted to the hospital immediately.
  • The next day, I was undergoing back surgery. It was now Thursday.
From Sunday night to Thursday, I experienced the most horrible, excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. It was relentless, with nearly no avenue of relief. There are many who have experienced this sort of pain; and if you have, you’ll completely understand what I’m talking about.

By the way, I don’t write this to move your sympathy. Far from it.

There are many, many people who have dealt with pain much more severe; and worst of all, their pain is ongoing. As I write this article, I’m still in my first two weeks since my surgery. Other than wearing out a little quicker, and some pretty harsh pain in the early mornings, I’m much better. There’s still things I can’t do for myself; and there is a sense of trepidation about my future (physically speaking), but I’ll get through it.

If you would like the PRINTABLE version of this post, click HERE.

The reason for this article is to tell you one of the greatest lessons about leadership I’ve ever learned.

Leadership is linked to kindness.
Through my ordeal, and in the time following it…people have shown me so much kindness that it overwhelmed me.
For starters…my family was there for me. My wife hasn’t left my side. She has taken care of me with such great affection, much more than I deserve. All of my family has lifted me up (sometimes literally), and helped me in ways that humbled me for sure; but created a sense of gratitude in my heart that I really can’t explain.
My church family and friends have prayed for me, called me, visited me, and provided for me. To say that I’m blessed is an understatement.
But beyond these, I’ve had perfect strangers show me great kindness. Nurses and doctors that took the time to actually listen, see, and believe me. These people made an impression on me.
They showed leadership.
How? Through their kindness, they influenced me. They changed my thinking about compassion, and kindness towards others.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Influence in someone’s life is nothing to be scoffed at. ” quote=”Influence in someone’s life is nothing to be scoffed at. “]
Influence in someone’s life is nothing to be scoffed at. 
As a Christian (and pastor), I believe that God gives us influence in someone’s life to help them, better them, love them, or to show kindness and compassion to them.
People need kindness. People want kindness. It’s just that simple.
Everyday you are bombarded with negativity from nearly every possible angle. It seems there is always a negative voice telling you why you “can’t”. Rarely do we experience actual, undeserved kindness; but when we do, we naturally gravitate towards those who show it.
When you sense genuine kindness being shown to you, you trust the one who shows it.
People who are kind to us in our pain have an instant ability to speak into our life. They’ve cared for us, so we in return listen to them. They have influence in our life. They have leadership.
People Need Kindness
Here’s the deal…
Everyone is experiencing pain.
Sure, for some it is the physical pain associated with something that happened to them; but for others, it’s relational pain, emotional hurt, rejection, or just the need for something to fill a void that has become apparent in their life.
If you want to lead people, you need a place of influence in their life. Kindness opens the door to influence.
Let me clearly state as well, that real leadership isn’t about the leader gaining something from those they lead. Real servant leadership is about serving. It is getting into people’s heart and life with the intent of loving them and serving them.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Leaders aren’t self-serving. ” quote=”Leaders aren’t self-serving. “]
Leaders aren’t self-serving.
Dictators are those who use people.
But true leadership always desires influence for the purpose of healing hurts, helping out, and holding up those who need a hand.
If only leaders would be truly kind to people, I believe they would see their leadership blossom.
If you would have asked me a few weeks ago about my leadership, it would have been mostly about the “mission” that I’m on. I needed to lead people to action.
While this is still true, I’ve learned that there is another degree of leadership. It’s kindness.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Kindness opens the door to influence. ” quote=”Kindness opens the door to influence. “]
Kindness is about people. Leadership is about people. If you aren’t kind to those you lead, you won’t have the opportunity to lead them for long. As much as I want to believe I was kind before my incident, I’m sure I wasn’t as kind as I should be.
So…I’m changing.
With every word, my new struggle is to be kind. It is to show the same kindness and compassion to others that was shown to me. The reason is simple: I want to influence their life for the better. I want to be a leader to others that points the way towards healing, purpose, calling, and the love of God.
In any new experience, there is a learning curve. I’ve found a few things I needed to learn if I’m to succeed at leading others through kindness.
These are actions that will benefit you too, if your aim is to be a leader worth following:

Be humble.  Not false humility either; but a realization that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Be willing to get down where people are. In their hurt. Empathize with their pain. See through their eyes.  

Break down your personal walls.  Sadly, through many rough experiences in my life, I’ve built a lot of personal walls for myself. These have been a source of protection for me through difficult times, when my source of protection should have been my faith in God.   Breaking down your walls is NOT easy. But to lead others, especially with kindness, there cannot be a wall between you and those you desire to lead. It’s just that simple. A leader with walls is a leader who cannot touch or be touched. As far as I can see, Jesus, the One I consider to be the greatest leader of all time, was both touched with the feelings of others; and reached out to touch the hurts of people. I want to be like Jesus.  

Become kind in your communication with others. Use words that uplift. There is always the choice to tear down, put down, degrade, and devalue those around us. Truly, we can nitpick every action, choice, and belief that other people have; but if you’re going to be a leader worth following…DON’T DO IT.   Let kind words flow through your broken down walls. It won’t be easy at first. You’ll feel vulnerable, even weak. But as many have experienced, strength is often found when we expose our weakness. Tell others what they mean to you; and really mean it.

There are many, many other steps, or actions involved in leading with kindness; but these are a good place to start.
Lead with kindness and you’ll find your influence growing greater than you ever imagined; plus the ability to help people through your leadership.


Other relevant, inspiring, and interesting reading…

The Dilemma Of The Servant Leader – by Lolly Daskal

10 Ways To Show Kindness To Others – by Laura Beth Cowan

The book, “Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles For Effective Leaders” – by Joel Manby

If you would like the PRINTABLE version of this post, click HERE.

Larry Shankle is a pastor, author, and blogger. He helps people get clarity and direction in their calling, purpose, dreams, and leadership.

Larry and his wife (Amanda) live in the Arkansas river valley with their two boys (Braxton and Dawson). He has spent almost two decades in active local church ministry serving in multiple leadership roles. Larry has spent the last six and a half years serving as Lead Pastor of GrandviewChurch in Natural Dam, AR.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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