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An Underrated Quality of Leadership

Written by Chuck Olson

Jesus Saves

He was waiting at the top of the stairs. Every Sunday. For me. At least it seemed that way.

The setting was downtown Los Angeles—Church of the Open Door. The intersection of Sixth and Hope to be exact.

And the intersection of my life and my faith.

As a kid, I grew up in a church surrounded by people who marked my life in countless and undeniable ways. People who loved God and followed Him unreservedly. People who taught me. Invested in me. Loved me. And cared about me.

One of those people was Harry Nackos.

Every Sunday I would climb the north stairs to the first balcony of the historic COD auditorium. And every Sunday I would be greeted by Harry Nackos (who insisted that I call him Harry). He was one of the ushers. And greeting him weekly was one of the many highlights of my youthful church experience.

I loved his easy smile. I loved his handshake (which felt like a well-worn catcher’s mitt). I loved his corny jokes that he told with a childlike gleam in his eye.

But most of all, I loved how he made me feel. Welcomed. Wanted. Seen. Needed.

When I got old enough, Harry deputized me. Oh, I don’t think there was any official church vote, but he told me he needed help to hand out the bulletins to incoming worshipers. As far as I could tell, I was the man! Harry’s man. There was no question in my young boy’s heart that Harry cared about me.

You know it like I know it: There’s nothing quite like realizing you are wanted. Needed. And cared about.

There’s nothing quite like realizing you are wanted. Needed. And cared about.

One of the realities of life and leadership is that people are much more inclined to follow a leader who cares about them. In a book busting out with insights, author Steve Saccone in Relational Intelligence states “when we love people well, we become the proof of God.”  How true.

One of the realities of life and leadership is that people are much more inclined to follow leaders who care about them.

Looking back, who are the people in your world who were the “proof of God” to you?  Who were the mentors uploading the message that you were wanted, needed, and cared about?

As I thumb through the file cabinet of my life, here are some of the ways my mentors communicated that they cared about me:

• They believed in me.
• They gave me their full attention—their eyes and body language made a clear and convincing statement that they were completely present.
• They took time to know my “story”—the defining moments of my life.
• They trusted me with new challenges.
• They prayed for me.
• They introduced me to people who would widen my exposure to new thinking and new experiences.
• They helped me see my failures not as an endgame, but as a classroom for growth.
• They put their arm around me and told me that I was their colleague, not a hired hand.
• They knew my dreams. And they looked for ways to see them become reality.
• They created space for me—to learn, to lead, to experiment, to stretch.
• They cheered me on—they wanted my best.

From your life experiences, what would be on your list?

So here’s two takeaways. First, who has been that mentor in your life who has come alongside you, believed in you, and cared about you? Make a call or drop a note to that person. Let them know what their investment has meant in your life.

And second, who sits right now in your circle of influence ready and waiting for you to tell them and show them that they are cared about? Take a step. Make a move.

…and become the hands and heart of Christ Himself in the life of one of His followers.

Chuck Olson
Founder | Lead With Your Life

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  • Jenny (Witt) Steane says:

    Loved Harry and Margaret. Something about our COD years makes me realize how very blessed we all were to grow up surrounded by such wonderful, Godly people. And I love that the legacy lives on in so many of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of those God loving people. Our roots run deep.

  • Karen says:

    So blessed to have had Sunday School and church mentors like you did Chuck. I am praying the same for my kids.

  • Linda says:

    My life has had many mentors and so many of them have to do with my growing up years at COD as well. Thank you for the reminders Chuck of how important it is to mentor and to have mentors.

  • Bill says:

    What a truth teller you are Chuck. I recall two in particular who believed in me and motivated me to step into leadership in high school. God bless them!

  • Ginni says:

    This story really resonated with me.
    You had exactly the same type of upbringing I did.
    First, the picture of COD next to the old BIOLA, where my parents met during the Depression. Neither had any money or parents close by. My mom ran the Biola elevator, and my dad worked at a nearby hotel. Soon, they both worked there, and were able to get their meals free. The owner became their dear friend, and later helped them be able to pay tuition at Dallas Theological Seminary. When they moved back to Los Angeles in 1956, to begin Calvary Church in Pacific Palisades, J Vernon McGee would sometimes visit the pulpit, became a mentor to my dad, and a frequent guest at our table. Over the years, Dallas Professors, missionaries, Young Life leaders, BIOLA professors, Multnomah Bible School leaders, Billy Graham filling the Coliseum, these were the things of my childhood, and what an impact they made on my heart. We really only need 1 who made a difference, but I had many. Bet you did too.

  • Greg Creighton says:

    I thank God for Harry who also enlisted me. I am also thankful for your mentoring Chuck, and the reminder that we need to continue the pattern set before us in mentoring those God has placed in our lives. May our tribe increase!

  • Ron says:

    Such good words Chuck!
    “They believed in me.
    They cheered me on. and wanted my best.
    The trust me with new challenges.”
    These are the ones that are stand outs for me.

  • Megan says:

    I think about all the youth people who invested in my life in junior high and high school They just showed up week after week, for no pay, and they cared about me. Will never forget how much that encouragement was to me as a teen.

  • Dave says:

    All too often, leaders believe that to be an effective commander, they need to be heartless. My style has always been that of a Coach. Teach the Xs and Os, cheer them on, teaching them well and believe in them. When people know they are valued, they make an extra effort to be better than themselves. #leadership #teamwork #inspiration #team #coaching

  • Janna Howe says:

    Rich words Chuck of the impact those that shined in our eyes last forever. Mine was a Youth Pastor Al Johnson. Downey First Baptist Church. Thanks Chuck for reminding us to reach back and relive those moments that may have changed our lives for His Kingdom. Al Johnson Youth Pastor Alpine Winter Camp Blue Jay Arrowhead

  • jon mooney says:

    Hi Chuck, i sure enjoyed reading your article. I sat in the first balcony at C.O.D. from about 1952 until 1958 next to my parents and grandparents every Sunday. Looking back (way back) I am so grateful for all those Sundays—listening to Dr. McGee and understanding as much as I could at 10 years of age. He was the best.

  • Tsega says:

    Chuck, you have been that leader in my life who communicated clearly that you care. Thanks for living out what you teach/preach.

  • Greg says:

    So important to have mentors in life. They lead by example. They lead in so many unseen ways, so many little ways, that somehow get indelibly etched into our hearts. So grateful for you Chuck.

  • Pattie says:

    God bless all the “Harry’s” who have invested in the next generation, likely without even being aware of the impact.

  • Bob Wade says:

    This just captures what it is to lead with your life. It’s a great roadmap for leaving an eternal legacy for children, grandchildren. employees and others!

  • Derek says:

    So good, Chuck!

  • Kathi says:

    This is a great story/lesson! Right on target about Harry.
    We all need reminders like this to appreciate and thank those who impacted our lives and as a continual reminder that we impact lives everyday in how we conduct ourselves and treat others.

  • Matthew says:

    Powerful article!

  • Raymond Thompson says:

    Chuck, thanks for sharing this timely message. POWERFUL!!!!

  • Steve says:

    Following a leader that believes in me and for me has made all the difference in my career. Great advice Chuck.

  • John says:

    Blessed to count you as one of my life mentors Chuck.

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for sharing Chuck about the influence we can have on a younger leader. So true!

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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