How would Jesus lead?
I find it amazing that we ask so many (in my opinion) nonsensical questions about the life of Jesus but when it comes to leadership we drop the Bible and pick up the latest book from the New York Times best seller list. Somewhere down the road we decided that Kingdom leadership could be taught to us by the world. We thought that if it worked in this sinful age it must be the way of the Kingdom. Yet as I read my Bible, I cannot reconcile how we lead as Christians, whether in work, church or home, with the way that the Bible teaches.
It’s also interesting that most of the Christian books that do talk about Biblical leadership do not model their leadership model on Jesus. I’ve heard how Moses would lead, Joshua, Paul, Peter, Noah, Elijah, the Roman Centurion…but rarely ever about how Jesus would lead! As much as I love these heroes of the faith and believe we can learn from their lives, we are not called to be like Moses. We are called to be like Jesus and live and respond like He would. Let’s look at a few points of what this means.
In the corporate business world, there is a lot of talk about pushing ahead and making yourself stand out. Many leadership books give ways and formulas how to climb the corporate ladder. Jesus on the other hand states this in His “leadership book” (the Sermon on the Mount):
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5 ESV)
Jesus states that the best way to be exalted and climb the ladder of success and recognition is to be meek. Think about that. In the Kingdom, the best way to climb up the ladder is to climb down it.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate. (Luke 1:51-52 ESV)
The Bible clearly marks what the requirements are for advancement. Finally, look at this verse:
But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:34-35 ESV)
How is it that we can have Christian leadership classes and never hear that verse? In the Kingdom, the higher you are in the Kingdom the more humility, meekness and servanthood is required. Also, the greater you are in the Kingdom, the less you are allowed to defend yourself. Jesus didn’t just teach these things, He lived them. He humbled Himself to serve us. He denied any right to defend Himself. He died and then the Father exalted Him. Maybe that’s why meekness is never taught as a leadership principal — cause meekness is tied to dying.
The Bible is full of verses talking about how much Jesus prayed. Sometimes when reading the Bible, I wonder when Jesus slept! He was always praying, for Himself, for others and for His followers. I truly wish the gospels had more prayers that Jesus prayed. John 17 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. That said, it is amazing how little Christian leadership books/seminars push their hearers to pray.
In today’s culture, there is a push to create places of creativity but there is no push it seems to create places of prayer. We think if we have the right atmosphere or can generate the right collaborative spirit that there is nothing we can’t solve. Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19 ESV)
Jesus states that He only did what the Father did. He not only said that, He acted liked that. He rooted Himself in prayer to make sure He was continually connected with the Father. If Jesus did this being God, how much more should we?
Delegation of the *good/fun stuff*
This point is neat. In His ministry, Jesus toils, labors and serves His followers. He prayed and discipled them. Yet when it came to public ministry, He never hogged the “platform” (so to speak). Multiple times He sent out His disciples to do the preaching, healing and miracles. That’s not to say Jesus never did anything. Jesus preached and ministered all the time, but He involved His disciples in those things too. It’s another side of meekness. He didn’t tell His disciples to go clean the road or something mundane while He did all the exciting and impactful stuff. No, He worked with them side by side. I think part of the reason was that Jesus understood that He was only here for a few years. He knew His ministry had to be imparted into others.
Always open for questions
Many times the disciples seemed really dense. Jesus would be preaching and later they would come to Him and ask Him questions or ask for a clearer explanation. Jesus never brushed them off stating there was no time. Neither did He make them feel stupid for asking questions. In fact, some of Jesus’ most memorable statements were in response to a question someone asked Him. Think about this: the Lord’s prayer was given in response to the disciples asking “teach us how to pray.” Now that prayer is prayed by millions of Christians everyday…all because of a question.
Jesus not only told the truth, He also was transparent. Nowadays people will say that you can’t let those under you know you’re weak or sad or in trouble. They also advise not telling people of your future plans in case you shoot yourself in the foot. This is not what Jesus lived. Jesus from the onset told of His death, resurrection, ascension, glorification, second coming and final victory. At the same time He also spoke of how troubled He was, especially closer to His betrayal. Jesus had no problem showing how He really felt. Jesus laughed, cried, yelled, whispered, etc. He never said “none of your business” or “this is personal”. For our sake, He was totally open. Jesus never left us uninformed about His life or what He was like and what He felt.
In John 15, Jesus makes a humbling statement to any one that reads it:
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:14-15 ESV)
Wow! People say that you can’t be friends with the people who are under you because they’ll lose respect for you, but Jesus’ example states if you can’t make the people under you friends then you’re not leading like Him. Jesus never worried about His disciples becoming too familiar with Him. He understood that the closer He was to them, the more they would love Him. This model is seen again and again in the Bible, especially with Paul and Timothy.
I think sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously, like the ministry or calling of God is on us to fulfill. We act that if we do not live a life of a monk then that somehow dilutes the ministry of God. While personal sin and compromise will dilute and shame the calling God has for you, friendships with people of like faith will not. In truth, the effectiveness of the ministry is not on us, it’s on the Lord. Jesus understood this. That’s why he prayed hours upon hours and then went eating at people’s house, even associating with people who were of shameful reputation. His friendship didn’t bring His ministry down, His friendship brought their dignity and joy up.
In summary, I feel it’s time to start inviting God into our leadership practices. He is the best leader and anything He teaches us will not only work now, but in the age to come. If we’re faithful to lead properly now, He can trust us to lead properly then. That’s what I’m leading for.