Thursday, April 6, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 11 – How the Ls Help Me LEARN (Love)

This week, I begin my breakdown of each component of my strategy in light of the 4L’s. That is, how do each of the L’s (Learn, Live, Love, and Lead) help my affect my Strategy. This particular post may be a little confusing because my overall Strategy consists of the acrostic LEARN and the first component of the Strategy is Love. But as I hope you will see, the way each of these are used, while complimentary, are not exactly the same. (In all honesty, this may only become apparent after reviewing many of the previous posts and some that are yet to come, but I do think it makes sense overall. Rather than filling this article with many links, you can find previous posts listed at the conclusion of this article.)

Again, my Strategy consists of the acrostic LEARN. The choice was intentional as my both my masters and doctorate degrees relate to Christian education. As such, learning is important to me, and is very much a part of who am I am and what I do (I learn in large part to teach). The first letter of LEARN is the focus for this week. The letter is L and it stands for Love.

A Strategy Led by Love

Of the five letters of my Strategy, this one does have a lot of overlap with the Steps. And yet, the Step is more focused on what I do, while the L of my Strategy is more focused on the concept of love in general. For some, you may think I am splitting hairs, and perhaps I am, but love requires action. But the Step of LOVE is about the attitude of our action, while the Strategy is more about the motivation for them. That is, the LOVE Step, coming after LIVE, relates to following God not because I have to, but because I want to (attitude). The LOVE portion of my Strategy relates to my need to love God and love others because Jesus commanded it (motivation). Again, my response does not have to be due to strict adherence to a command, but if I do love Him, I will heed His commands (John 15.13).

The command in focus here is to love God and love others. Our love for God and for others can be expressed in many different ways. But the questions I must answer as it relates to my Strategy are:
  • How does loving fit into Vision and Purpose? 
  • What happens if I do? 
  • What happens if I do not?
  • How does loving fit into my Strategy?

The answer to the first of these questions is expressed in the opening sentence of my Mission statement. Furthermore, it is the outcome of my Vision statement because the man that God wants me to be will be a man who loves (see my focal verse for my Vision). Thus, the need to love is paramount to fulfilling my Mission which then can lead to achieving my Vision. But becoming a man of Love is only one aspect of becoming who God wants me to be. That is, I could become a very loving person and yet miss out on the purpose God has for my life. So, the idea of Love is just the first portion of my Strategy.

The answer to the next two questions then becomes rather obvious. If I do love then I move closer in this one area towards my goals. If I do not, then I do not move closer, and may actually find myself further from them. The statement I have for this first part of my Strategy says it this way: Love God and others, beginning with my family (Mark 12.29-31). The love must first be directed towards God, then others. I have stated this elsewhere, but if we love others, we may miss loving God. But if we love God (properly), then that love will manifest itself in loving others. Thus, the love is important, but so is the order of focus. Again, if I do love God, then others, I am succeeding – not in my eyes, but in the eyes of God because I am fulfilling the The Great Commandment as given by Jesus. If I fulfill the greatest of all commandments, then I must be moving towards becoming the man He desires me to be.

But again, LOVE is only the first part of my Strategy. Thus, it cannot stand alone, rather, it must be interdependent on the other aspects of my Strategy as well. If I Love but do not Exercise, or Act, or Read, or Nurture others, then how am I expressing the love that I say I have. Likewise, if I do the others to the best of my ability but do not love, then to paraphrase Paul, I contribute nothing to God’s cause (1 Corinthians 13.1-3).

Intersecting Strategy and Steps

I believe the necessity of Love within my Strategy is clear. Now I must briefly relate the concept to each of the L’s.

LEARN – First, I must LEARN what love is. I may know that Love is more than a feeling, but I must continually remind myself of the need to respond in love, to act in love, to live in love. That requires continual living because I can forget this often. As I shared in the post on the LOVE Step, it can be difficult for me to love. I am very practical, and becoming more focused in what I do, and how I live life. But love allows interruptions. In fact, love welcomes interruptions. Do I? Not always (ok, rarely!). And that means I have much more to LEARN about what love truly is.

LIVE – In an above paragraph, I mentioned Paul’s writing as recorded in 1 Corinthians 13. The reality is that if we do not live a life filled by love and shared with love, we are not living as God desires. We may have a great many talents for the world, but apart from love, many will only use their talents for their glory, not the benefit of others or the glory of God. This is not true of everyone, but it is of many. Thus, if we are to truly live a life filled with all it can be, it must be for God and it must be lived in love.

LOVE – Again, this category is an obvious overlap, but I point us back to the difference between attitude and motivation. The Step of LOVE (as I focus on here), is one of attitude. The Love in my Strategy deals with motivation. These two concepts are not unique, but a distinction can be made. As such, when our motivation for loving God and others matches the attitudes behind our actions, we have accomplished something far greater than we can imagine – whether the actual task being done is “successful” or not. This statement is true because the world’s success is different from God’s (Biblically, “success” = “faithfulness”).

LEAD – Many leaders throughout history have used and manipulated others. But that is a part of the reason why this Step is last not first. Because LOVE comes before LEAD, I am suggesting that a good leader will lead from LOVE. LOVE does not mean total acceptance, but in this specific case, care and nurture is a must for the best of leaders. With that thought in mind, the Step of LEAD fits very well with the Love portion of my Strategy. Loving others will move us to LEAD them and leading others includes moving others to be better individually, collectively, or both.


To the Christian, love is a non-negotiable aspect of faith. 1 John 4.19-20 reminds us that we cannot love God if we do not love others. For me, my Strategy must begin with Love (within the acrostic of LEARN) because this piece can be challenging for me. To include the idea at the beginning of my Strategy serves as a constant reminder to me that I need to Love. But, it is only the first part of my Strategy, which means I have four more parts to cover. Next week, I will review how the idea of Exercise (spiritual, physical, and financial) fits into my Strategy and how the Steps (the 4Ls) help me to stay on course.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 –
4L – Matthew 28.19 –
4L – Spiral –
4L – Vision –
4L – Mission –
4L – Strategy –
4L – Steps –
4L – Learn –
4L – Live –
4L – Love –
4L – Lead –
4L – BackUptheSpiral –

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