The hardest part about leading like Jesus is getting one’s heart right. Indeed, it’s a daily and lifelong struggle.

We teach that to master Servant Leadership, the first part of S3 Leadership, we have to work on our heart, head, hands and habits. All are important:

  • The head is important  because one has to both understand how Jesus led and to comprehend the skills of effective leadership.
  • The hands are important because knowing by itself is not enough – one has to actually behave in a way that reflects a properly disposed heart and a properly informed head.
  • The habits are important because unless we adopt regular and routine behaviors that keep us focused on leading like Jesus, we will stumble, our enthusiasm will wane, and we will gradually drift away from pursuing our goal.

However, the heart is most important factor in leading like Jesus because, as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, “If a (person’s) heart is not good, then nothing else can turn out good either.”

All that Jesus knew, all that he said and all that he did was animated by his complete and total commitment to do the will of his Father. His own personal desires were never more than secondary to him, as is made evident in his agony in the garden, when anticipating his own suffering and death, he prays: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Lk 22:42)

I doubt that anyone is consistently able to put God’s will ahead of his or her own will, as Jesus did.

Yes, we all have our selfless, God-centered moments. And we have the examples of many saints who accepted death rather than disown their relationship to God. But putting God’s will for us first and foremost -- ahead of our own wants, needs and willfulness -- in every moment, in every decision, is just too much to expect of ourselves.

Fortunately, God doesn’t expect it. That’s why He’s so forgiving. As Pope Francis has said, “God never tires of forgiving us.”

Fortunately, trying counts with God.

So growing as a Jesus-like S3 Leader is a matter of trying again and again, day in and day out, to do as Jesus said and did: to above all things “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mk 12:30).

It’s a heart challenge.

You won’t get it right every time. No one does. But if you keep trying, God will notice – and He will help you grow as a Jesus-like Leader.

Keep trying.