Download Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view .pdf files.
Skip Navigation

Man Standing with his arms wide open

Reflections on Leadership, Faith and Love

As I prepared my keynote remarks for the recent Congressional Prayer Breakfast, I thought long and hard about the connection between love and leadership. I thought about my own journey. Over the course of my career, I have often been characterized as having a great deal of initiative and drive. That has generally meant that I move fast…I lean in. I have often been considered a loner who was both intense and intentional.

The conclusion of all that thinking is simply this: Let’s not live life at such a pace and in such social isolation that we fail to see the beauty in the world and the beauty in relationships with people in the world who are different from us. Let’s lead with love.

When I talk about love, I am not talking about romantic love or the love we feel for our children. As many of us know, the Greek word for love, agape, means a benevolent and charitable love that seeks the best for others always. This is the kind of love I strive for in my personal and professional life, and it is what guides me as a servant leader.

To love someone in my view is active and not passive. If I love you, again in the spirit of agape love, I care if you are hungry, I care if you have shelter, I care if you have clothing, I care if you have justice and the means to provide for your family. In this spirit, I am active in the world to help with any gifts I may have.

My faith has shaped the kind of leader that I am today. It has led me to embrace a servant leader model that places the needs of others above my own. It has taught me to listen with compassion, to empathize with the struggles of those around me, and to use my platform to make a positive impact in the workplace and world. And don’t take this statement as some sort of economic or social martyrdom – far from it. I have done well by doing good by people. I have done well by pulling the best out of people and helping teams find common ground. I have done well by using my platform to help people think and connect.

As a servant leader, I believe that my role is not to be the hero of the story, but rather to empower those around me to be the best that they can be. I believe in cultivating an environment of trust, where everyone feels valued and appreciated for their unique talents and contributions. I believe in setting high standards for excellence, while also being patient and supportive in the face of mistakes, setbacks, and miscommunication.

Ultimately, the mark of excellent love is treating others as we would like to be treated. If we want to raise our children in a safe environment, we should be advocating for the same for other children. If we want economic security, social mobility, clean air, and safe drinking water, we should be advocating for these things for our neighbors. This is what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is how we create the beloved community.

This is what the work I and my colleagues at Midwest BankCentre do. We come together with a common purpose of helping more people and more communities and giving more people a shot at winning. We do this through access to reasonably priced capital. We focus our efforts and our intentions on helping those who have been historically left behind, Main Street businesses and multicultural markets.

It’s not easy work. None of us have easy work in our personal or professional lives. But for it to be meaningful, and impactful, it has to be purposeful. By stewarding our time, our talents and our resources, by sharing our treasures and advocating for others, we can make a real difference.

It Matters Where You Bank.

Originally published in the St. Louis Business Journals Ask The Expert Column on 8/11/2023 by Orv Kimbrough, Chairman and CEO.