If you missed the first part of this blog series, you can check it out here. In Part 1 we talked about a different kind of company. Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE) and how they use a business policy of leading with love. President and CEO of the company, Joel Manby, spoke of how his experience at HFE has revolutionized how he sees leadership and how their way of doing business has turned the business world upside down.
That is a great Segway into the topic we will be covering today, agape love.
Just so you can keep up with were we are in this series, here is the outline of the 4 parts of this blog series:
Part 1: A Different Kind of Company
Part 2: Agape Love
Part 3: The Handbook of Love: A Playbook for Life
Part 4: Putting Love into Play at Work
Joel Manby stated that when he came to work for HFE that he could accept the fact that HFE employees loved working for the Herschends, and even that the Herschends loved them back. What Joel did struggle with was the word love and how to define it in a way the employees of the company would understand and accept.
Joel said that at that time he thought back to his wedding day and remembered a talk on that day so many years ago. Joel said that pastor Terry told his wife, Marki, and him, “You can’t imagine this today, but there will come a day when you are frustrated with each other; you may not feel like you love each other. You may not even feel like you like each other in the moment. Joel and Marki, that’s when you need to behave like you love each other.”
Treating someone with love regardless of how you feel about that person is a very powerful principle. This type of love is the basis for all healthy relationships, bringing out the best in ourselves and others. It can make us great spouses, great parents, great friends, great employees, and great leaders too.
In the bible, there is a verse in which the golden rule is based on. I would like to share that verse with you.
Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
All too often, however, when we read the word love, we automatically think about romantic love. The emotional kind of love. What I am talking about here though is love the verb, not the emotion. It is pronounced agape in Greek. I am talking about actions, not feelings.
Jesus speaks of an agape kind of love in the following passage from the bible:
Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
John MacArthur, a well-known pastor says the following, “Selfless love serves for the sake of the one being served, and serves in the way it likes being served-whether it receives such service or not.”
One quick question for you before we dig deeper into the idea of agape love.
How do your actions demonstrate love for those you lead?
Agape love is unconditional. It is a decision, a matter of will. the key principle is to think of agape love as a verb, not an emotion. Agape love is the foundation for the best and noblest relationships that humans are capable of. It is a deliberate and unconditional love that is the result of choices and behaviors rather than feelings and emotions.
In that regard, agape love is about the values we embrace as a way of life. It is a determination to behave is a certain way that stems from our regard for other human beings, regardless of how we may feel about them. For leaders, demonstrating agape love is about behavior, not emotion. This is a critical distinction that explains why agape love can be the motivating force of a succesful organization.
With this in mind, I want to look at two bible passages that really bring this idea home.
1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)
4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Sounds good when you read it doesn’t it? It is another whole matter to actually practice it. I understand that we will not always succeed in following this, but if we make showing this type of love our goal and work hard each day to improve in this area, the end result will be quite noticeable. Showing this kind of love towards people will pay off big time in your life.
Agape love can exist in the most hostile environments, even work. Agape love can stand the test of time. With agape love, you can dislike someone or be frustrated with them and still treat them with love. Agape love will promote healthy relationships among employees and their leaders, allowing people to perform at their very best, all the while withstanding the pressure and tension that can exist in a high-performance organization.
Jay E. Adams, an author, says it this way. “To love we must give of ourselves, of our time, of whatever it takes to show love; for giving is fundamental to the biblical idea of love.”
As we end this blog segment and this discussion of agape love, I want to leave you with a question to ponder over.
How can I cultivate agape love in all my relationships?
The answer may seem pretty obvious, but take some time to really think about this. Jot down some real ways you can show agape love and make it your goal to either start doing them or improve in the way or frequency you do them. You may find the results to be wildly successful.