For followers of Jesus who are called to be leaders, here are some observations on the topic of leadership. You may say, “Yeah, well, that was Jesus, for crying out loud! That’s not me.” And sure, we cannot know the depths of people’s hearts or cause a storm to be still at the sound of our voice. But Paul is not bashful to call us to be imitators of Christ.
I know! This title sounds almost blasphemous!
But honestly, I sometimes feel like we are getting more and more of our leadership paradigms from a business world and model than from Jesus whom we proclaim. Our reality, as missionaries, is that we are called to a ministry, not a business, and to a vocation, not a paycheck. There are no career ladders to climb, other than the way down the rungs of service.
Sometimes it’s tempting to adopt a business model in missions because it simplifies things. It’s easier to cut our losses, distance ourselves from the pain, and it is so much more politically correct.
For followers of Jesus who are called to be leaders, here are some observations on the topic of leadership. You may say, “Yeah, well, that was Jesus, for crying out loud! That’s not me.” And sure, we cannot know the depths of people’s hearts or cause a storm to be still at the sound of our voice.
But Paul is not bashful to call us to be imitators of Christ. Christ’s Spirit lives in us and therefore we will be amazed at how He is able to work in and through us. But it does presuppose leading His way, not ours, and the results will be in His hands, not ours.
So how DID Jesus lead?
1. He bore much responsibility.
There is a sense of weightiness about Jesus’ leadership. His task was the greatest any human was ever sent to do. Accepting that was a big part of Jesus’ service to us. His disciples never really understood the gravitas of his mission, even up to the very end of his life. They napped through his greatest moment of need in the Garden of Gethsemane. This can be true for us too. There is a loneliness to leadership. But, unlike Jesus, we do not have to bear the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are part of his body and can find rest and reprieve there. We need to find people with whom we can share burdens.
2. He needed time to pray and fellowship with the Father.
No comment! Well, allow me just one: If Jesus, the Son of Man, needed to spend many hours in prayer talking to the Father, how much more do we? In modern terms, he balanced being alone with God and ministry to people.
3. He invested in a few disciples.
Jesus taught the masses but invested in the leadership training of a few. He spent much time, sharing life with 12 men, going deep in his teaching and applying it to them specifically. They learned by watching him do. Jesus, the Word of God through whom all things were made, chose 12 men to fulfill his task. What? Such a small plan for influence? More is not always better, as Jesus demonstrated, but multiplication was the key.
4. He delegated.
Jesus sent out various groupings of disciples to do what he did. He did not go with them or oversee them closely but let them make their own experiences and mistakes. He empowered flawed people with his task. He was all about building his church through weaklings in order to show God’s power and glory. Can we release control, believing that the message is more powerful than the messenger? It’s not about us, but instead is about the message of the gospel.