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A Christian Approach to Organizational Leadership


The following blog, written by Dr. Kurt Senske, President and CEO of Upbring, first appeared on the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) website.

KS-for-web-op ed (2)Whether we serve as a pastor of a congregation or a leader of an organization there is a proven framework that we can follow that will provide us with the building blocks to create a blue print for organizational success.

Early in my career I led an organization that, due to changes in the external environment, was quickly headed in a downward spiral. Through a two year journey we were able to put the right team in place, make difficult decisions, became financially sound and doubled the number of people that we served.

The question became, was our situation unique or did our experiences fall within a framework that could be duplicated by others? After reviewing the existing empirical evidence and interviewing Christian leaders from all walks of life, what I discovered is that it is in fact our biblically based values that allow us to have organizational success without having to lose our integrity or harm our family life in the process.

Two Underlying Principles:

  1. The Organization (Congregation) must come first. In every situation we must honestly assess: What is the best decision that will contribute to the long term viability of our organization? This is sometimes difficult for Christians to understand. We have trouble holding employees or parishioners accountable. What makes this rule palatable is that once we place our organization first we must also follow the Golden Rule.
  2. Follow the Golden Rule in all aspects of leadership. “So in everything, do to others, what you would have them do to you.” Matt. 7:12 It is imperative for a leader to follow the Golden Rule in each of the following categories:

Our Personal Style of Leadership – Be a servant leader!

Create an Effective Organizational Culture – Are our organization’s core values and mission clearly defined and ingrained?

Values Based Strategic Planning – Do we have a clear end game? What is our organization’s passion, expertise, economic engine?

Develop and Mentor Others – Who can we serve today?

Balance your own and your employee’s family and professional lives – Live by example. Studies clearly show that leaders with healthy family and personal lives are more productive and successful at work.

The Golden Rule of Leadership works because it provides personal growth in employees and sustained economic growth in organizations. It incorporates the Gospel values of love, honesty, respect, and justice into our daily decision making and actions. It is other directed, not self-centered. It builds people up as opposed to using them up. It allows people to envision new possibilities rather than seeing themselves and the world as unchangeable. And, last but not least, it allows us to make decisions based on our deeply held beliefs and values.


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