Leading through the tough stuff

Leadership equals influence! Many people have this lofty view of what it takes to be a leader.   If you influence people… You’re a leader.  It’s that simple.

That makes a mother the leader of her children. If people listen to you around the water cooler at the office, you’re a leader. If other students in the classroom follow your advice, you’re a leader.  If your neighbor comes to you for advice, you are a leader.  You don’t have to have a title on the door or your own parking spot to be considered a leader. If you are influencing people, you are a leader.

The question every leader needs to ask themselves is, “Am I influencing people for their good or for my good?”  Put another way, “Am I using my leadership for what I can give or for what I can get?”  “Is it for my benefit or for the benefit of others that God has called me to be a leader?” In other words, are you a good leader or a poor leader?

Jesus was THE leadership genius

You will find no better example of leadership then Jesus.   Jesus isn’t A model example of leadership… He is THE model leader.   If you want to learn how to lead- look to Jesus. If you want to lead better – lead like Jesus.

Jesus even gives a leadership lesson to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. When Pilate tried to remind Jesus that he had the power of life and death, Jesus gave him a leadership lesson. Jesus instructed this Roman governor that authority comes from God (John 19:11).  The leadership lesson that Jesus was teaching Pilate and us is that if all authority comes from God, all authority should be submitted to God. It is an abuse of power to use authority in a way that does not bring honor to God. The reason why Jesus is THE model leader is no one wielded God’s authority better than Jesus. No one used God’s power for God’s purposes more than Jesus!

Jesus was a servant leader

Servant leadership is the buzzword in corporate circles today. Business executives spend a lot of money trying to learn how to serve people while leading them.   Let me save you a lot of money… Jesus invented servant leadership! In fact, I would take it a step further.   Jesus wasn’t only a servant leader he was a “sacrificial leader”. He came as a ransom or a sacrifice for those whom he led (Matthew 10:28). Never before him or since, has a leader ever demonstrated the kind of sacrifice that Jesus would make for his people.

His disciples saw Jesus as God’s promised leader. So you can understand why it was hard for them to comprehend when he said that he must suffer and die as their leader (Luke 9:44-45).   Imagine that you’re one of his disciples… you are convinced that Jesus will become the future ruler of Israel.   You are certain that Jesus will become more powerful than the Roman empire or even Caesar himself.  You would also have trouble accepting Jesus’ statement that he is going to be crucified and resurrected. The disciples had no framework to help them understand this level of servant leadership.

Jesus set the example for our leadership

If Jesus is THE model leader, then you and I should lead like him.  In fact, this is exactly what Jesus says in Luke 9:57-58.    To follow Jesus means to walk in his footsteps. So, when people started to follow Jesus it’s no wonder that they were confused about his sacrificial leadership. They were looking for the perks package that goes along with leadership-  Jesus reminded them leadership is hard. If you’re looking for easy leadership, you’re not going to find it by following Jesus.

In John 15:20 he makes this principle crystal clear. If life was hard on Jesus as a leader… It’s going to be hard on us as we try to lead others. If Jesus suffered as a leader… We will suffer as leaders also.   If people murdered Jesus- the greatest leader who ever lived- how can you and I expect anything less? Think about that the next time you are applying for a leadership position.

Further reading

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