The best leaders lead from the front. They don’t delegate, abdicate, or relegate the heavy lifting to “subordinates.” They dive headfirst into the hard work.
This is true of the best military leaders throughout history. Battlefield generals like Leonidas of Sparta, Alexander the Great of Greece, and George S. Patton of California fought side-by-side with their soldiers so that wars would be won. They didn’t direct and expect from the back of the battle. Instead, they chose to dive and drive into the heat of it.
These warrior/leaders weren’t afraid to get mud and blood on their uniforms. They knew that these condiments of battle were the real medals of honor in the sight of the troops who followed them.
But it’s not just military leaders who knew this principle. Effective political and spiritual leaders throughout history have understood this as well.
Lincoln, the gangly 16th President of the United States, led the Union from the front by being a hands-on Commander in Chief. As a leader, he was immensely practical and accessible, so practical that he won the war, so accessible that he was assassinated at close range.
Ghandi, the bold liberator of India, led an entire nation from the front. He marched 240 miles of dirt roads over 24 days to protest the unjust English taxes on and rulership over his beloved country. His dust-encrusted act of courage eventually helped to emancipate an entire country.
The best leader of all time, Jesus Christ himself, led from the front. He boldly took on the religious establishment of his day without flinching. He stood up for the poor and oppressed when nobody else would. He challenged the stone-throwing hypocrites by protecting a scarlet-lettered woman, putting himself in harm’s way so that she could be saved. He wrapped himself in a towel and washed the dirty feet of his disciples to show them how to lead from the front. He got mud on his “uniform,” and then he got blood on it.
He led the charge for the transformation of the human race by picking up his cross and dragging it to his death. In the heat of battle, he lost his life and won the war. He taught us how to win by losing and how to live by dying. He showed us how to lead from the front.
Leading from the front is the most effective way to lead a family, a ministry, or a company. Let’s not be afraid of heavy lifting. Let’s not delegate the calluses or splinters. Instead, let us, like Jesus, fill our hands with both as we pick up our crosses and die to ourselves so that others can be victorious.