Jesus Leadership

By Charmaine Hibberd

I’ll be honest with you. There was a time when the idea of being a leader in the church seemed pretty glamorous to me. You get to stand on the stage and have reserved seating at the front and make key decisions in the life of the church you lead.

But the more I observed the leaders in my church, and in the worldwide church, the more I saw the weight of it. I mean, you have to stand on the stage (even on the days when you feel like hiding) and sit at the front (when all you want to do is sit at the back) and make key decisions in the life of the church (when you have no idea which way to turn and are struggling to discern God’s guidance).

Being a leader in God’s church carries great responsibility and deserves great consideration before it is entered into.

In Matthew 20:20-28, we read of a mother who is keen that her two sons sit at the left and right hand of Jesus when he enters his kingdom. Jesus informs the mother that this decision is not his to make and that only the Father can judge who is worthy to sit in these positions in the kingdom to come.

Jesus’ disciples are indignant when they learn of this mother’s request and Jesus has to call them together to explain the state of affairs.

Jesus says this to His disciples:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Servanthood and sacrifice. These are the two leadership qualities that I hear when I read these verses.

“In order to truly serve someone, you cannot have an attitude about them. You have to sincerely care.”

Servanthood

Philippians 2:3 says this: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.’

This is a tall order. In order to truly serve someone, you cannot have an

attitude about them. You can’t think of them negatively or even with casual indifference if you want to do the best you can for them. You have to sincerely care. Jesus addresses how we are to view others in the above verse. We are to value others above ourselves. It’s tricky and pulls against all of our natural human tendencies to put ourselves first.

But Jesus states – and models – that valuing others above yourself is the best way to view and serve them.

Sacrifice

John 15:13 says this: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’

Jesus did not just serve humanity during His time on earth, He died for us. He thought so little of His life compared with the great love He has for us that he willingly and freely gave it up.

In its most literal interpretation, this verse means facing death for others. Giving up your privilege of living for the sake of another.

Another interpretation of this verse is not literal death, but ‘dying to self.’

Dying to self means to surrender your own preference or need in order to serve another. Surrender is not a fickle word. Does it describe how you lead others? Are you quick to surrender your preferences for another? Or do you cling to your own prerogative?

None of this is easy. Leadership is not easy. As with all great callings in life, leadership should not be entered into lightly. However, the privilege of seeing a young person come through an extremely tough season with a faith on fire because you took the time to lead them through, is beyond anything you could experience otherwise.

If you got into leadership to satiate some desire that you have to feel or be powerful, or to ‘lord it over’ others, as the Bible puts it, then you are in the wrong business.

‘Jesus leadership’ requires you to serve and sacrifice yourself for those you are leading. It requires you to love others with a genuine love. No one has a problem following this kind of leader.

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