The greatest leadership lesson from the life of Jesus Christ
Jesus is the quintessential leader. Putting religious and spiritual beliefs aside, no one in history has been discussed more, worshipped more, had more songs and books written about and inspired more artwork. During His life on earth, he turned three years of ministry into a worldwide movement that changed history. Today, more people follow Him than any other leader in the world.
As a model leader, Jesus practiced the most vital principles of leadership—and he provides an example for leaders to imitate. Easter time is a good moment for reflecting on what I consider the greatest characteristic that made Jesus Christ an incomparable leader.
Jesus gave many great examples of leadership. Servanthood, sacrifice, willing to do the work, compassionate, integrity, authenticity, strong values and convictions, and many more,—all essential. But one characteristic more than any other is exemplified over and over again, and has affected my life and my leadership the most. I hope it can be the one trait you can value above any other:
LEADERSHIP BEGINS AND ENDS WITH RELATIONSHIP
If we are to be effective leaders, couples, parents, and grandparents, we must see leadership as Jesus did.
He never cloistered Himself in His office and led by sending emails. He never sat on the couch and barked out orders behind the TV. He never claimed the ministry was “His” and others should click their heels. His leadership included first and foremost relationship.
He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach. —Mark 3:14
Notice the order. First they would be with Him. Once they developed a connection with him, and learned from his teaching and example, then they would be ready to do the work.
He invested time with His men. From that relationship, He provided love, vision, correction, and direction. Once convinced of His love for them, his disciples were willing to laid down their lives for Him, as He did for them.
Josh McDowell once told a group of parents:
“Rules without relationship equals rebellion.”
That also applies to marriage and to the workplace.
Jesus operated with true sacrificial love and interest for people’s lives. So should you and me.
LEADERSHIP VALUES PEOPLE BY INCLUDING THEM
Jesus included people in the work rather than merely using them for the work.
This is huge!
Jesus saw His disciples—His servants—as His best product. Let’s see what that means in practical terms for us:
Your love partner is your best friend and companion—rather than someone to enlarge your image and fulfill your whims.
Your children and grandchildren are your goal—rather than the means of accomplishing personal agendas and fulfillment.
Your employees are your best product—rather than merely the means of producing a product
Jesus trained His men in the context of relationship and then entrusted them to do the work of the ministry. When they failed, He never jerked it all back and rebuked them. He saw failure as a means of growth. He answered their questions, help them reflect, and continued to coach them for success.
It’s the same in all leadership and parenting. A good leader cares for the life of his followers. You can’t build a successful family, business—anything—if those who work “under” you feel like chopped liver. They need to know you love them.
Love them, and they will give their lives for you. Jesus proved that.
“If we’re running over people to accomplish the goal, we’re chasing the wrong goal.” -Wayne Stiles
THE TRUE MISSION: YOUR PEOPLE
As Jesus Christ began His ministry, He could have snapped His fingers and healed everyone, fed everyone, and met every need in a moment.
Instead, He included imperfect people to participate in the process:
The feeding of 5000 included the disciples (Matt. 14:19).
He sent the apostles out two by two (Mark 6:7ff).
Peter, James, and John witnessed special miracles (Mark 5:37; 14:33; Luke 18:51).
In distress in Gethsemane, Jesus requested others to stay with Him (Matt. 26:36).
Including people in the process gave them value and understanding. Jesus worked to guarantee that each worker apostle understood his job. Including them also allowed them to contribute their unique gifts.
The point? Jesus never saw people as merely a tool to use to accomplish His ministry.
They were His ministry.
They were the mission.
It must be the same with you.
People follow leaders they can connect with, they can have a relationship with. Whether it be your partner, your children, or your employees, they will contribute to your mission in the extent that you value and love them. That’s the lesson of Easter!