Jesus gave us many great examples of leadership. Servanthood, sacrifice, prayer—all essential. But one example more than any other has affected my life and my leadership.
When we think about it, Jesus needed no one. As Paul wrote, “All things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). In fact, the One who made the world with a word could have accomplished His whole ministry alone.
This ministry would have been perfectly carried out without people. If perfection was the goal, people were clearly in the way. But seeing Jesus’ ministry that way misses the whole point of it.
If we are to be effective leaders, parents, grandparents, and Christians, we must see ministry as Jesus did.
Leadership Begins with Relationship
Jesus never sat on the couch and barked out orders behind the TV. He never cloistered Himself in His office and led by sending emails. He never claimed the ministry was “His” and others should click their heels. His leadership included 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. Then they would serve Him.
He invested time with His men. From that relationship, He communicated love, vision, correction, and direction. Once convinced of His love for them, they laid down their lives for Him.
I heard Josh McDowell once tell a group of parents: “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” That also works in the workplace and in the church.
Jesus didn’t operate that way. Neither should we.
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 little children—His servants—as His best product. Let’s make that practical for us:
- Our children and grandchildren are our goal—rather than the means of accomplishing personal fulfillment
- Our employees are our best product—rather than merely the means of producing a product
- Our volunteers at church are the goal of ministry—rather than those we use to enlarge our personal ministry agendas
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.
That’s what the good shepherd does. The bad shepherd is focused only on himself or herself. As Jesus said:
He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. —John 10:13
It’s the same in all leadership and parenting. A good leader cares for the life of his/her sheep. A bad leader fleeces the sheep and ultimately abandons them. You can’t build a successful family, business, ministry—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.
The True Mission: Your People
As the Lord 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 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 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 the ministry.
They were the mission.
It must be the same with us.
Tell me what you think: Do you see people as a means to an end or as the primary goal? To leave a comment, just click here.