Rev Karla's Blog


Lead With Love

Ten Ways to Lead and Live a Life Guided by Love

“I just want to lead with love.”

When he made that comment, I knew that someday his words would become a blog. I had the honor of recently being interviewed by Jalon Johnson for his podcast “Not Your Ordinary Parts.” 


A little backstory. 


Full disclosure—I have help with my social media management. It isn’t an uncommon practice for creators with large accounts to have assistance with managing posting content, comments, and specifically in my case, the direct messages.


At first, it was manageable. When I only had a few thousand followers, I enjoyed spending time each morning answering the questions and engaging with followers. As the accounts began to grow, however, I often found myself spending hours trying to answer questions and follow up with followers in my direct messages.


This soon became unsustainable, as I had little time for content creation. Even more importantly, the toll it was taking on me to hold the space to read about the struggles of thousands of people became overwhelming. As difficult a decision as it was, we decided the best way to manage followers’ questions is to manage how much time I am required to be in my direct messages. Now items that need my attention are given to me in a structured way that allows me to create boundaries on what I can and can’t do.


That means that I rarely go directly into direct messages, except for that one day when I did. I had seen a message from Jalon asking if I would read something he had written. Whatever compelled me to accept that invitation and read his writing I’ll never know. I call those moments spiritual nudges, and I’m glad I paid enough attention on this early morning to honor it. 


Jalon’s writing was lovely, and we soon developed a virtual friendship inside direct messages that led to him inviting me to be on his podcast. I could tell he had given much thought to the type of guests he would have on his podcast. Even more impressive was the list of questions he had prepared prior to our interview session. Never before had someone prepared so thoughtfully what our time together would be, and I was committed to showing up with presence and love to honor what Jalon was creating.


It was a beautiful experience, and the interview remains one of my favorites. It was during our time together that I commended Jalon for the work he was doing that he said he simply was trying to “lead with love,” and I felt his words deeply. What follows are not Jalon’s words, but my own as I pondered our discussion and what leading with love means to me. I hope this is meaningful to you as well:

Ten Ways to Lead and Live a Life Guided by Love:

1. Embrace forgiveness: Forgiveness can be a triggering word, especially for those of us who were taught that unconditional forgiveness meant that we forgive our abusers regardless of the offenses and the relationship is fully restored. Forgiveness in this context is about releasing the need to be bound by the harm done to you. Healing from our past is the most powerful tool to be free from the harm others have done to you.


2. Cultivate gratitude. Another tricky concept. We may have been taught that gratitude prioritizes happiness, meaning we are to be grateful for what others have done for us, even if their actions are harmful or abusive. Gratitude that is inward facing is smoother around the edges. It reminds us to pause and breathe and for just a moment be thankful that you are here, and you matter. It’s a practice that takes time, but you’re worth it.


3. Radiate compassion. Compassion is not a segue to living a boundaryless life. Compassion merely means that we step out of our own lived experiences to understand where another is in their lived experience. It is how we bend the knee to offer kindness to the downtrodden, yet also move out of the way to make room for those equally or even more qualified yet who have been oppressed. Compassion is a sister to empathy (see #5 below).


4. Choose kindness. Kindness, compassion and empathy go hand in hand, but kindness in this context is about developing your responses through the lens of respect and integrity. This does not mean that we are doormats—hardly. We stand firm and have the courage of our convictions, but we do not spiral into disparaging and insulting language to make a point or allow others to do that on our behalf. When kindness is cultivated as a response, you learn that you can stand firm against bigotry and say “no” with a smile and “yes” with a smile all in the same breath.


5. Practice empathy. When we begin to understand that every human being has a right to their story, then we release the need to mandate how people are responding to their lived experiences. A man experiencing homelessness begging on the street corner may well be healthy enough to work, but do you really know that? It’s your choice not to give them money but judging him on his physical appearance is playing into a dangerous narrative that says, “I know all I need to know about someone based on the way they look.” This lack of empathy permeates into other areas of our lives. When we develop a practice by simply saying, “I’m going to listen to better understand this person’s experiences,” we open ourselves up to a new level of empathy.


6. Nurture self-love and self-care. Probably the hardest and most challenging of everything on this list! It’s this simple: Ask yourself “what do I need?” Then begin to move toward that thing or things. It’s okay if you can’t incorporate all into your life at once—many of us cannot. But keep asking the question and keep moving toward that which comforts, sustains and uplifts you.


7. Let go of judgment and embrace acceptance. See #5. Everything comes back to empathy. For many of us, our religious indoctrination taught us to turn off our empathic natures (because we are all empaths—it’s just a matter of if we are in tune with it). If our eyes were on the pain in the world, then we were at risk of doing work in the world instead of work in the church. If we are also taught that our ways are God’s only ways, then we feel entitled in our stance to judge the world. That indoctrination then filters into other areas of our lives, and pretty soon we’re placing judging on everyone like it’s our job—because we were taught it was. Let…it…go.


8. Foster meaningful relationships. This goes back to boundaries as well. For many of us, our inner circle was one where many people who were in it simply didn’t belong. They were abusive, using gaslighting and manipulation to control our actions. To be in a relationship with them was exhausting, yet our indoctrination taught us that we were to submit to them because of familial or religious or even societal patriarchal structures. This is nonsense. But clearing out our layers of relationships can be difficult. It’s also challenging to re-imagine what “meaningful relationships” mean. For me, it means that I have people in my virtual communities closer to me than in physical proximity. Re-imagining means I get to decide what my inner circle looks like and who I allow in there. This may take time, but it is worth it.


9. Spread joy through acts of kindness and service. Our compassion, kindness and empathy are actionable. Find helpful and meaningful ways to contribute to causes that you find drawn to. It’s rewarding, and it is also sacred, because our spirituality is intricately connected to our humanity.


10. Surrender to love's guidance. This means that our inner knowing, or this mysterious indwelling presence is available to us at all times. When we open our hearts to “live with love” and desire to “lead with love,” then we are seeking a heart/mind/soul connection. This requires an intention to allow each one to be present in our decisions and our actions.

Embracing the Essence of Love

To live a life led by love is to embody its essence in every aspect of our being. It is to extend kindness and compassion not only to others but also to ourselves. Love calls us to cultivate self-love, acknowledging our worthiness and nurturing our own well-being.


Love also beckons us to extend our kindness to the world around us, recognizing the interconnectedness of all beings. It inspires us to perform acts of service and cultivate empathy, fostering a sense of unity and shared humanity.


Living a life guided by love requires constant practice and conscious choices. It is a daily commitment to embody love in our thoughts, words, and actions. 


Choosing to live a life guided by love is a courageous and transformative choice. 


It’s hard work, but it is worth it. 

Jalon epitomizes it. 

I aspire to it. 

Join me on this commitment to lead with love.

Looking to further your healing journey? Rev Karla understands that everyone’s spiritual journey is unique and deeply personal, that is why we offer communities for those desiring a safe and supportive environment. Engage with like-minded souls, and embark on a sacred journey of deconstruction, spiritual growth, and healing. Visit us online to join a community or Live event that speaks to you. 


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