The life of Jesus is an example to all of us of how to effectively lead people. However, Jesus’ approach is often rejected. Jesus’ methodology and results are plain to see for anyone who desires to learn. In a relatively short period of time, Jesus assembled a core group of people who would start a transformational movement that would continue till this day. How would you have assembled such a group? Would you make it easier or harder for people to follow you? Think about it for a minute. If I wanted to build a team of people who would go on to make such an impact, how would I recruit such a team?
Many prominent leaders today use rhetoric to draw followers. Such leaders spend hours learning persuasive language and jokes that would get any crowd laughing. Such an approach seems extremely effective short-term. You can grow a very large group of followers using this approach. However, such leaders leave their followers defenceless as they don’t have the knowledge needed to live fruitful and productive lives.
So, what can we learn from Jesus about leadership?
Firstly, true leaders always start with the end in mind. This is vital because if you are short-sighted, you will be more concerned about pleasing people than challenging them. Jesus said to his disciples as recorded in John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” – (John 15:16 NLT). Jesus’s ultimate goal for His disciples was for them to remain as disciples and go out and make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20 and John 8:31-32). This was reflected in the way He recruited as He allowed people to walk away. He allowed the numbers to fall because He knew quality was more important than quantity (Matthew 19:22 and John 6:60-71). It is vital as a leader in whatever capacity that you do not try to take everyone on board. You will have to be quite manipulative to try to please everyone.
It is okay for people to walk away; dwindling down in the numbers is a good thing as the people that remain will be there because they want to be as opposed to because of your magnetic personality.
Secondly, Jesus replaced Himself. This is especially hard for charismatic leaders because they see their success by their ability to do everything. If you are a business owner and desire your business to grow, you will need to be replaceable. Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:7 (ESV), “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” Jesus knew that if His disciples continued to physically depend on Him then they wouldn’t grow. The Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Helper” that would continue the work that Jesus started. Leaders that thrive off people’s complete dependence on them suppress the growth of their team. The solution to this in business looks like promoting people that you have trained to take over the company whilst you as a leader take more of a consultancy role. Why is this important? As your business grows the demands on your time and energy will increase and you will not be able to keep up with this. Something will have to give – either your health or the productivity of your business or ultimately both.
Moses’ father-in-law wisely advised him to raise up leaders so the load on him would be distributed (Exodus 8:1-27). This advice may have just increased the years of his ministry and life.
Thirdly, leaders should create a culture where people are treated equally but differences are celebrated. If an environment in which people are treated equally is present, naturally there will be a diverse group of people. If women’s views are valued then naturally they will want to be part of the team. If people are loved regardless of cultural differences then you will have people from diverse cultures come. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – (John 13:35 ESV). John in the book of Revelations gives us a glimpse into the diversity that will be in heaven,
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 7:9 ESV).
Lastly and most importantly, there must be a clear vision of the impact that you want to leave. This is more than a simple mission statement but also a system or plan of how to get there. What was Jesus’s mission statement? In the great commission Jesus told His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” – (Mark 16:15 NLT). The blueprint for doing this was also given, “…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – (Matthew 28: 19-20 ESV). Which demographic of people were they called to reach? All nations! How were they to produce disciples? By teaching the people what Jesus had taught them. This is why when Peter got off track and started to show partiality to the Jews, Paul reminded Him of the mission (Galatians 2:11-18). If there is no clear vision then how do you get people back on track? It’s vital that leaders don’t assume that the people they are leading know this automatically. They must take time to go over it and break down the practical steps that need to be taken in order to see the mission accomplished.
Leadership is a hard but rewarding position to have.
In order to lead effectively, you must be trained and have a team which you are accountable to. It’s about influencing people, not controlling them. Jesus learnt how to lead by following His Father’s example (John 5:19). Ultimately, our effectiveness in leading will be down to who actually trained us as opposed to any natural ability that we may have. The skills needed to lead can be learnt. However, we must seek to imitate the right people.
“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” – Jesus
By guest writer Praise Anyanegbu
God Loves You, Always & Forever!