Christian Teaching

What Would Jesus Say to Leaders?

By: City Bible Forum

When we work in a team, they hand out duties. They hand out the first aid duty, they hand out the occupational work and health duty, and then they hand out the fire warden duty.

This is the one nobody wants because they make you wear a silly hat. It’s not like you know what to do in a fire. And no one’s going to listen to you anyway.

Well, that’s what it feels like to be a leader. And sooner or later, whether we like it or not, we end up as a leader. It could be in the playground, it could be in the family and it could be at work. But sooner or later, whether we like it or not, we end up as a leader.

What Would Jesus Say to the Leader?

In Mark 10, two people called James and John Brothers come to Jesus and they asked Jesus to make them leaders. James and John came to Jesus. “Teacher, they said, We want you to do for us whatever we ask. Jesus asked, “Well, what do you want me to do for you?” They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other your left in your glory”. “You don’t know what you’re asking” Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?

Later in the Bible, we read that James and John, the two brothers, have the nickname Sons of Thunder. If they were around today, this is what they would look like because they were hard headed, hotheaded alpha males and they come to Jesus and they say, Make us leaders and Jesus is horrified that they would even ask. Jesus says, No.

This is the part of the story I don’t get, because Hollywood tells me that these guys should be my leaders. I want these guys as my leaders, they’re strong, handsome, and powerful. I don’t understand where Jesus is coming from.

We need to hear the three things that Jesus tells James and John and the three things that He tells us today about leadership.

The first thing is this: leadership promises position, power and prestige.

We read in the story Jesus called his followers together and he said this to them. You know that those who are rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and their high officials exercised authority over them. See, this is what the world thinks leadership is. It’s all about authority and lording power over those that we rule.

I hate flies. So I say, if I was prime minister of Australia, I would make it compulsory for every Australian to kill one fly a day and think about that would mean we would get rid of 20 million flies per day. We all catch ourselves saying this, if I was Prime Minister, I would. If I was Prime Minister, I would get the trains running on time. If I was Prime Minister, I would make every Monday a compulsory holiday. If I was Prime Minister of Australia, I would get the Australian Wallabies winning again.

The least effective way of leading is leadership based on position where people follow you not because they want to, but because they have to.

We have this idea that if I am in power, I have the power to get anything done that I want. However, most leadership experts agree that this is not how leadership works. John Maxwell in his book The Five Levels of Leadership, he looks at the five levels of leadership, ranking them from the least effective to the most effective.

The least effective way of leading is leadership based on position where people follow you not because they want to, but because they have to.

Daniel Goleman in a Harvard Business Review article. Leadership that Gets Results Published 2000. Here they grabbed 20,000 executives, randomly selected 4000, and they empirically studied their styles and they broke it of leadership.

  1. The directive style. Do what I tell you.
  2. The visionary style. Come with me.
  3. The facilitative style of leadershipPeople come first.
  4. The participative style of leadership. Well, what do you think?
  5. Pace settingDo as I do now.
  6. Coaching. Hey, try this.

The execs observed that the two least effective forms of leadership were the directive. Do what I tell you. And that pace setting, do as I do now.

Leadership and Power

Experts say the “Do what I tell you” form of leadership gives you authority, but you’re not really a leader. People listen to you, but they don’t respect you. People obey you, but they’re not inspired by you. It’s what I call negative energy leadership, where we suck the energy from the room and people do the least bit necessary.

Whereas what we want is positive energy leadership, where we inspire people and we bring the best out of them. So how can I be this sort of leader? How can I be a positive energy leader? This brings us to the second thing that Jesus says:

To lead is to serve. To lead is to serve. Jesus says “not so with you, instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all for even the son of man. Jesus is talking about himself in the third person for even Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

The Essence of Leadership is to Serve

That’s what leadership is. It’s because you’re the most important person in the room, your role is to serve. The general who does not advance to seek glory or does not withdraw to avoid punishment, but cares for only the people’s security and promotes the people’s interests is a nation’s treasure, Sun Tzu.

Simon Sinek, in his book Leaders Eat Last, says the whole point of being a leader is to eat last. It’s to serve. The whole point of leadership is to sacrifice your personal good for the gain of the team. However in today’s culture, Sinek says, Now we’ve inverted. We perverted leadership. So now leaders sacrifice the good of the team for their own personal gain. We have all these negative examples of leadership.

Steve Jobs, rock star, pin up CEO of Apple. Now we know in private he was a horrible man to work with, disloyal to his family, horrible to his friends, sacrificing the good of the team for his own personal gain. But Sinek says that’s not what leadership is about. Leadership is about being the first one over the trench, taking on the most danger. It’s being the last one off the ship, making sure everyone else gets off safely.

You become a leader because we know you’re the one who can sacrifice yourself for the good of the team.Now we need to ask one question, why would I want to sacrifice myself for the good of the team?

Well, this brings us to the third thing that Jesus says.

To Lead is to Have a Vision

To lead is to have a vision. It’s not enough just to lead. It’s not enough just to serve, there has to be a vision that we’re serving. Jesus says this again for even the son of man talking about himself in the third person, for even Jesus to not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life. Yes, but why, Jesus? Why?

Because he wanted to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus didn’t just come to give us an example of servant leadership, but to ransom us from our sin. That was Jesus’ Vision as a Leader.

What’s your vision as a leader?

Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

Feature image: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash 

About the Author: Sam Chan is a theologian, preacher, author, evangelist, ethicist, cultural analyst and medical doctor.

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