By Regi Campbell

Years ago, I heard a motivational speech by Lou Holtz, the famous football coach. He said there are three questions everyone should ask about their leaders:

Can I trust him?

Does he know what he’s talking about?

Does he care about me?

If you’re an alliteration guy or you want extra credit, you can call it “Character, Competency, and Compassion.”

If you don’t trust your leader, life’s going to be hard. You’re parsing everything they say. Looking for discrepancies. Questioning their motives. Thinking “just how many lies does this guy think he can tell me without me seeing through him?” There are few leaders we trust entirely, but it’s incredible to be a part of it when we do. If you can’t trust your leader, start looking for other options.

But even trustworthy leaders have to be able to perform. To hold up their end of the bargain. I may trust my neighbor’s son who just finished medical school, but I’m nervous if he’s my brain surgeon and I’m his first patient. Competency is the easiest of these three “C’s” to change. Training and experience will likely make this one better over time.

And no matter how trustworthy or competent, we have to know our leader cares about us. If they don’t care, and if we don’t know they care, we’ll second guess their competency or character when something goes wrong. My friend is wrestling with choosing a surgeon for a precise and important procedure. He’s asking “Do I want a surgeon who’s done 5,000 of these, but doesn’t know me from Adam? Or do I want one who’s done 500 and I know cares about me?”

If you’re struggling with your leader, ask these three questions. They may point you to the reason it’s not working and help you know what you need to talk through with that leader. Yeah, I know ... some things just can’t be fixed, and you’d probably better have your resume ready before you go. But at least you’ll know why you’re uneasy, and you both can be alert for chances to make it better.

If you want to play in the bonus round, turn the question on yourself. “When others look at me, do they see someone who can be trusted? Who knows what he’s talking about? Who cares about them?” Maybe ask a few people who know you, follow you, and whom you respect. But only ask these questions if you’re ready to hear the answers and if you’re serious about acting on what they tell you.

Think and Pray

Leaders worth following are trustworthy, competent and compassionate. If your leader isn’t leading well, consider which of these is missing and pray for the timing and approach to discuss it with them. Your respectful feedback, motivated by a desire to see them succeed, might be a turning point for them … and for you.

Lord, I pray for my leader(s) and ask that You give them wisdom, compassion and humility to lead well. Let me be an encouragement to them, and help me also to display Your character to those whom I lead. Amen.


Regi Campbell was an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion was mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written four books: About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, What Radical Husbands Do, and Radical Wisdom. Regi passed away in January 2020 but his legacy lives on through Radical Mentoring.