My reading list on leadership goes up and down with the seasons. I’m currently reading An Unhurried Leader by Alan Fadling. Hopefully my next post will have gleanings from his wonderful book! This post is a continuation of my leadership series (see post 1 and post 2) and I felt it was most appropriate to reflect on the greatest leader of all, Jesus.
Jesus did not come to earth as the type of leader everyone expected and hoped for. He did not come as a proud and triumphant warrior but as a meek, gentle baby. He didn’t preach in beautiful and extravagant venues wooing people with emotion and wit but instead in homes, boats, and hillsides preaching and teaching about relationships and sharing the truth about sin and forgiveness, God’s grace and mercy. And he did not die gallantly destroying his enemies but loving them instead and making a way for new life in him. Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and the life of Jesus can teach us many lessons about leadership.
Jesus came not to be served but to serve others. We witnessed examples of his servant heart when he provided for a wedding, fed thousands, visited sick and dying people, and washed his disciples’ feet. Service was central to Jesus’ ministry. He didn’t put his own agenda ahead of God’s. After all, in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “Not as I will, but as you will,” Matthew 26:39 (NIV). He led by example through service and invites us to do the same.
We saw Jesus do crazy scandalous things when he spoke to the woman at the well, healed people on the Sabbath, and allowed himself to be mocked, spit on, and crucified. He loved his disciples and friends deeply, and we see him moved to tears in scripture. These cues encourage me to love deeply, to love the unlovable, love those I don’t like, and love deeply even when it may mean I get hurt. Jesus had human feelings, he loved tenaciously, and I believe he calls us to do the same.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” Luke 6:32-26 (NIV).
One of the greatest lessons I glean from Jesus is that he was always connected to God the Father through prayer. “Father, thank you for hearing me,” John 11:41 (NIV).
In addition to praying to his father, Jesus went away to be filled and then comes back. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed,” Luke 5:16 (NIV). Don’t let the word “often” escape you. If Jesus chose to withdraw to pray and be filled, how much more important is it that we connect with God? Plugging into God through worship, prayer, solitude, or music*—however you best connect— is crucial to leadership. We ought to lead from this place of abundance rather than selfishness, emptiness, or any other place.
As we prepare to lead in our home, small group, community, school, or at work, we have an opportunity to set our minds on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things,” Philippians 4:8 (NIV). Jesus took time to listen to God the Father before making decisions, and I believe he desires for us to do the same.
Reflect the Son
As leaders, we have an opportunity to reflect God’s heart with our lives. To do this, we get to live out our most authentic lives in all we do, learning to trust God more and give all the glory to him. My prayer is that we would learn from Jesus’ example and allow his life to influence everything we say and do, so that we may be leaders after Jesus’ own heart.
Thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus! Thank you that he took away the sin of the world and that he takes my sin too. Thank you that you call each one of us to yourself. I love you, Father God. Amen. Alleluia!
Be blessed abundantly!
*I encourage you to read Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas for more information on discovering how you best connect with God
Part of this blog was first posted on the Living Wellness Blog