Stages of a Leader: Are You a Lover Who Serves?


John Eldredge always moves me. Whenever I read or listen to John he touches my emotions and causes me to change myself in so many positive ways. He has a way with words and images that communicate directly into my heart.

Recently I listened to an audio presentation by John and he was tracking the stages of a man’s life. According to Eldredge, all men have to go through these steps to become whole and holy men. It begins with “Boyhood,” where a boy learns that he is the “Beloved Son” and entirely delighted in by his Father.

Then, it moves into “Cowboy,” where the young man must experience adventure and danger (think: David’s teenage years of battling lions and bears as a shepherd). Following that, the boy becomes a “Warrior,” often leaving home to pursue a cause or a mission.

At roughly the same time (but hopefully not before) the man is learning that life is a battle, the Warrior must learn to fight for his beloved and become a “Lover,” but still remaining a warrior for the rest of his life.

While all the stages were intriguing, one particularly got my attention as I listened while wearing my “leadership” hat. He spoke about the “Lover” stage of a man’s life—a place where men begin to love and discover the things around them. The action for men (and women) who reach this stage (and some don’t unfortunately) is service. Leaders at the Lover stage serve.

Leaders who don’t successfully move into the Lover stage become Consumers. Their behavior action, contrasting the Lover, is to use.

As leaders we could claim these stages as well. We can become Consumers and use our employees, or we can become Lovers and serve our employees. We can choose to use our company’s assets or we can choose to serve those assets thus maximizing what they deliver for the company. We can simply treat customers as Consumers and use them, or we can treat customers like Lovers and serve them. It’s our choice. We can let ourselves be awakened to the joy of serving our customers, our employees and our company, or simply be Consumers and not experience the delight this stage brings to our leadership journey.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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