The Life-Giving Leader


By Tyler Reagin

Life-Giving Leaders Create Vibrant Organizations

I love The Wizard of Oz for so many reasons.

My favorite scene is when Dorothy and Toto land in Oz for the first time. I don’t care if [they] started out in a monochrome world. They were transported through the air in a house, which landed with a bang. Behind the door was a different world—a new world. Color. Vibrancy. Beauty. Abundance. Emotion. Life. Hope!

Even more, the audience experienced something for the first time in the history of film: Technicolor. What had been black and white, dull and void of color, underwent one of the most vibrant and emotional metamorphoses ever seen on film.

Life-giving leaders create this metamorphic change in bland organizations. They can bring life to dead places. The best leaders can ignite teams to flourish as never before. They can expect Technicolor moments, the moments when leaders change the climate of the room.

We live in an age in which companies, organizations, and even churches feel bland. In the midst of an epidemic of poor leadership, people are dying for someone to bring life back into their homes and workplaces. Fun activities and surprises can serve as a catalyst for productivity. Taking time out of a busy work schedule can improve the team’s performance. When you make time for normal conversation, you see that everyone is a person trying to work out her or his leadership journey.Life-giving leaders attract other great leaders because life is flowing and the leaders bring excitement to their places of work or influence. Great leaders follow the leadership of organizations that seem to be filled with color and hope. You can be selling the most uninspiring widget, but if your company learns the art of life-giving leadership, watch the profits rise. Watch staff satisfaction skyrocket. Watch the church grow. Watch the colors change.

People Count

Healthy, life-giving leaders create healthy, life-giving organizations. It’s simple to say but incredibly hard to do. That’s why so many businesses ignore this. They don’t take the time to gain the advantage. They make short-term decisions to deal with the low-hanging fruit and fail to invest deeply in building a thriving, powerful culture. People crave that kind of strong culture and they thrive in it. Leaders become the leaders God is making them to be when they are empowered to learn and equipped to lead.

Your life-giving leadership can bring color to monochrome organizations. Leaders who choose to lead well let life flow. They are “leaders worth following.” I want to be a leader who is worth following. The key word in there is worth.

Worth has been defined as “the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.”

Deserving of value. Following a leader not just because of his or her position or rank but because this is leadership that deserves value. If you seek to be that type of leader, know that it does not come without a handsome price tag. It requires your days. Your time. Your sacrifice. Your sleepless nights. Your ego. Your title. Even your success, at times.

I want to change the world while I’m changing someone else’s world. I want the lives of people around me to be changed because of me. I want to have a legacy of raising people up and helping them reach their full potential. People flourishing because they were led well. I want the leaders around me to grow closer to their heavenly Father.

” Leaders who choose to lead well let life flow. “

Red Umbrella

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, a series of posters illustrated this idea. The posters were black-and-white photographs of smiling or playing children. Uniquely, within the black-and-white photo, one child, along with whatever he or she was holding or touching, was in color. Usually a splash of red.

When you look at these photos, your eye is drawn straight to the color. The photo could include one hundred children, but only the child in color catches your attention. The rest of the picture blends into the background.

Life-giving leaders are the splash of color in a monochrome organization. Your attention goes to them. Your focus finds the leaders who are bringing life to the team. You notice life-giving leaders because they go out of their way to share an encouraging word or celebrate a great decision made by someone on the staff. When leaders get intentional about bringing life into the organization, it’s amazing the way it makes other leaders feel.

Who Cares?

All this talk about beauty and art and splashes of color . . . What does that have to do with leadership?


Life can grow and flourish only in environments where the nutrients and conditions are right. People will not stay in places where growth and abundance are absent. We have a divine directive, remember? We are called to create spaces in which life can explode, where leaders can flourish

• What are you doing in staff meetings to grow and help your team take deep root?

• Does your organization have toxic problems? What are you doing to address them?

• What areas in your business are gray right now and need color? What is your next step to bring life to one of the areas?

• Which leaders around you grab your attention because they bring color? How can you encourage them to do even more along those lines?

• How are you enhancing the culture?

I learned years ago that leadership isn’t just what you do but what you allow. Where are you allowing leaders to operate counter to the culture you are trying to create? Leaders at any level of the org chart need to be able to identify the areas and people who are toxic to the plan, who create gray and monochrome environments, who keep others from thriving. You have to pinpoint the issues and make changes. Now.

TYLER REAGIN is the president of Catalyst, a leadership development organization that exists to unify and equip church leaders with resources and experiential events. Through live events, weekly podcasts, digital resources, and a community-building app, the Catalyst team connects with over one hundred thousand leaders from around the world. Prior to Catalyst, Tyler served for seven years under the leadership of Andy Stanley as the service programming director with North Point Ministries. He received his master of divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and serves as a leadership coach for teams and organizations. Tyler and his wife, Carrie, have two boys and live in Atlanta, Georgia. When he’s not working, Tyler is hanging out with his friends and family on the golf course.

Adapted from The Life-Giving Leader: Learning to Lead from Your Truest Self. Copyright © 2018 by Tyler Reagin. To be published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, on September 18.