There are people who touch our lives and make a difference. We know it at the time. We value the relationship and know they’ve had an impact. But maybe we weren’t able to see exactly what they were doing at the time that was making such a difference. That was my experience with Pastor Joe.

Pastor Joe was a loving, kind, caring person. Expected qualities for a pastor. But there was something more. Something deeper. As I sat at his memorial service, surrounded by hundreds of others who were equally moved by the life of this wonderful man, one of the speakers simply and clearly stated what connected Pastor Joe to each of us.

  1. He listened. He looked in your eyes and truly listened. He listened eye to eye.
  2. He asked questions. Sincerely. With curiosity.
  3. He didn’t judge. He met you where you were. No matter what, it was OK.

As these 3 qualities of Pastor Joe were described, I thought, this is exactly what we try and teach leaders. And yet, these simple actions are so rare, and so striking, that they are notable as distinguishing features at the end of someone’s life. This confirmed for me that these are 3 essential leadership qualities.

With these 3 actions: listening, asking questions and not judging, a person can impact hundreds of people’s lives. They can build connections, move lives forward, create teams, build community, motivate and celebrate. In short, lead.

We often think leadership is hard. But in reality it’s quite simple. It’s about the other person, not about ourselves.

Pastor Joe’s life was about others, not about himself. And yet he will be remembered as remarkable. His impact will live on as those who knew him continue to carry him in our hearts. And my hope is that his spirit will ripple through to you as you read this and think about how you can increase your impact as you listen, ask questions, and not judge.


  • What will you be remembered for today?
  • Do you listen “eye to eye?”
  • Are your questions sincere?
  • What judgements are you making that you should put aside?