Leading as servants as Jesus did…
What makes a good leader? Granted, not all of us are called to lead, but at times we might take up the challenge to lead, even if it is only for a short season. For those who are in ministry, we need to be aware of what is good leadership. And also remember, we are all called to be in ministry, no matter your calling or mandate. We are called to be actively involved in fulfilling the Great Commission, as also underlined in Ephesians 4.
Let us remember from the outset that a leader remains a disciple of God. This is of incredible importance because a leader within the Christian faith is of equal standing to everyone within the Faith. Why is this so? Because God appoints and ordains leaders, not because we are so clever or great, but this is His Sovereign will. This was proven when God appointed David, a mere shepherd boy, as the king of Israel. We are all disciples build up into the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2) who follow ONE true leader – Jesus. We are not here to build our kingdoms but to build God’s Kingdom. We are here to build on the true foundation that has forever stood the test of time. Once we understand we are all but disciples, we will then grasp the importance of humility. For we never cease to be disciples, for a disciple follows, and we are called to continue following the Lord as our only true master.
So often it is said that prayer for example makes a great leader. The reality is that all disciples need to walk in true fellowship with God, be constantly praying, and be constantly led by the Spirit of God. And since a leader is nothing more than a disciple, a leader needs to keep praying, remain in fellowship, and be led in wisdom and truth to walk in truth and to uphold all truth. For any disciple, thus also a leader, we need to be always be led by the Spirit of God, for then we shall make the right decisions and be led by God’s counsel. After all, Isaiah 11:2 is clear it is the Spirit of God that leads us in all wisdom, counsel, understanding, and wisdom. God uses His Spirit to empower servants for His Glory. The Spirit of God anointed David and anyone else who ever does anything worth anything for God. Nothing apart from God will last. Only what is attached to God will have any value. 1 Samuel 16:13 says “then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.”
The reality is, we can only be good leaders in ministry if we are truly led by the Spirit of God, foremost as disciples. For then such leaders will truly lead by example, and such an example is the one set by Jesus Himself. They will lead in God’s truth, in God’s love, and God’s will. By the Spirit of God, such leaders will realize spiritual power is far more important than earthly power. Such power and authority cannot be manufactured. It can only come from the kind of relationship Jesus had with God. In true wisdom, we have the power to truly deal with conflict, manage the flock and display courageous leadership. How we truly need Spirit-filled leaders in the church of God, for such leaders only seek God’s will, His truth, His glory, and His ways. Such leaders are always Christ-centred, Christ-orientated, and Christ-focussed.
We also have to keep in mind there is a big difference between a leader within the Faith and worldly structures. It all depends on one’s motivation and intent. A leader within the context of the Bible leads to glorifying God, and his or her entire motivation, intent, and purpose are to glorify the Kingdom and God. A leader in the Kingdom of God ultimately seeks to LEAD others to Christ, and lead by Christ’s example and lead by God’s wisdom. They are not seeking to draw followers unto themselves to have a following, but they seek to draw others so that they may follow Jesus. A worldly leader will be motivated by worldly goals and desires, while a disciple of God seeks to gain only Christ. Thus, we are dealing here with motivation and intent.
To Peter, Jesus said the following in John 21 (following the Lord’s resurrection and Peter’s betrayal of Christ): 15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” So if we are truly a leader in the Kingdom of God, we act out of love primarily for God. And if we love God, we then obey, we are faithful and our intent and motivation remain to ‘feed the flock’, meaning not abusing or manipulating but caring, nurturing, and edifying to the glory of God.
There are many traits and characteristics that you can look at that identifies a good leader. Probably one of the key characteristics is that of humility, for the greatest leader within the Christian faith is ultimately a servant. This may be difficult to understand but look at the life of Jesus. Oh yes, we are called to serve Jesus, but ultimately Jesus came to serve us! As He served His disciples through ministry. He served all mankind by dying on the cross for our sins. A true leader is a servant. A leader within the Faith seeks not to exalt or glorify himself or herself, but as mentioned, to lead others to Christ. Jesus was of course the perfect leader. He is the example we should try to follow. During His earthly ministry, Jesus transformed a group of ordinary and unqualified (by human standards) people into the leaders of a movement that continues to affect the world more than 2,000 years later. Jesus is by far the most successful leader who ever lived. His effective leadership was spiritual as well as practical. He calls us to be like Him. To lead like Him. Ultimately, Jesus came to serve and glorify the Father. Why was He so effective? Because He taught that to ultimately lead, you do need to know how to ultimately serve! And to serve is the ultimate act of love, and there is no greater power than love for God is love.
It says in “Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” To be served is to have other people do things for you. Jesus did not come into the world so that you could do things for Him. He came into the world to minister to you. This may joust sound strange, but the entire life of Jesus was ultimately about serving. Read through the Gospels and you will see that Jesus lived to serve. We read in “John 4:34: Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Christ lives to do the will of the Father because He is not bent in on Himself. He ministers and serves and reaches out in a world of human need. That is the mark of a true disciple – He who serves to the glory of the Lord.
In 2 Timothy 3, it speaks of the perilous days and how men will be lovers of themselves. This is not the way of true leadership in the Christian faith. For it is written in “John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Great love produces great faith and leadership. So a true leader must be willing to love above the self, seek to love others to the glory of God, and be willing to consider the needs of others above the Self. Yes, a true leader must even be willing to lay down his life for others, just as Jesus did.