In the Bible, ministry and service are words that characterize leadership. Jesus set the standard when He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Many Christian leaders follow the pattern of business or political models, which emphasize the organizational component of leadership. Yet this is entirely opposite of what Christ modeled for us when He walked the earth.
Businesses that have an organizational structure create a separation from the leader and his people. Silos or cliques can create a competitive instead of collaborative culture which fosters information hoarding instead of information sharing. Because of our sinful nature, cliques will naturally try to preserve face instead of making decisions in the best interest of the company as a whole.
This results in people failing to take responsibility for their own actions, which can lead to blame, lack of communication and creates poor end results for the company, customers and investors. The further the leader gets from the front lines, the greater the likelihood of misinformation, power struggles, and problems.
Yet looking at what Christ modeled for us, we see an entirely different perspective. We see that leaders are shepherds who guide and serve the flock, caring for and developing those around them. They pick up the servant’s towel (John 13:1-17) and model the life and leadership of Christ.
Leaders Shepherd Others
Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd. He was concerned about the health of His flock. Jesus characterized his ministry in this way; “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). He was willing to lay down His life for the sake of the cause, for the love of the community, for you and I.
Leaders Work Together
Jesus called His followers into a community in order to develop them as leaders. “He appointed twelve… that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3:14). As you look at the development of the church, the leadership structure was always to include a plurality of leaders. Paul appointed elders to lead the church once it established in any city, and he often worked with at least one or more partners in his ministry efforts, including men and women in his leadership circle (Rom. 16).
Leaders Are Lovers
Can you imagine if Jesus had been cold, distant, aloof or “clique-y”? Imagine if He came and only wanted to be with the people who were socially desirable. People who did not lie, cheat, covet, get jealous, have other gods, gossip, practice idolatry, were materialistic, selfishness, prideful, have premarital sex, have affairs, talk from both sides of their mouth, fail to keep their word, basically people who did not sin.
What a stark contrast Jesus shows us! He hung around with the lowest of the low – the prostitutes (John 8:3-11) and one of the most despised of all business men – tax collectors (Luke 19:2, 5-10)! Not only did Jesus hang around them, but he ate with them and walked with the strong smelling fishermen who He embraced as His own disciples.
Have you been to the beach front lately and smelled how “ripe” it can get when the fishermen come in and offload their fresh catch and present it for the public to purchase? It can sometimes be nauseating! Yet Jesus did not demand them to change. He loved them just as they were – stench and all! He invited them to walk with Him and even washed their feet! In the end, it was his love that transformed those ‘fragrant’ fisherman into devoted disciples who spread the gospel and changed the world.
Friends, this is what love is all about. Love is in it’s highest form when we embrace those who the world deems as “unlovable.” Loving, as Christ loved, is shown when we embrace the “undesireables” in life – when we refuse to be “clique-y,” cold, aloof, and harsh.
You will never earn the right to fully lead those whom you do not love. Caring and trusting relationships form the foundation for every vibrant community. Leaders have the ability to set the pace following Christ’s example set forth in John 13:1.
People will be much more open and receptive to receiving the God’s truth when they know that you genuinely care for them. Good leaders make it a point to understand the various love languages of people. Dr. Gary Chapman breaks these down in his book The Five Love Languages. They are as follows:
- Words of Affirmation
- Appropriate Touch
- Giving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Time Spent Together
In the simplest form, a leader is a disciple who is an apprentice of Jesus. Discipleship, in a broad sense, implies a life transformation and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Jesus desires for us to become like Him.
Precious friends, remember that no matter where you are, God has given you a sphere of influence in which He has placed you for a specific purpose. Get to know people and genuinely express your love for them. Shepherd them by modeling the love that Christ modeled for us. What greater joy can their be than to submit your will to Christ and allow Him to shine through you influencing lives for the purposes of eternity?
May all who see you be irresistibly drawn to know our Saviors’ love like a moth is drawn to a flame.
Dr. Christy Demetriades