We live in troubling times.
Recently the news media has been filled with fires, floods, Coronavirus, flu epidemics, tornadoes, and more. Then there are the human troubles: financial collapse, economic disasters, poverty, corruption in governments, and so on.
If we are to find a path through these things to survive and grow, then the key is leadership. And more importantly, leadership done right.
There have been many great leaders across history, men and women who have shone a light for others to lead them to victory against overwhelming odds.
Consider Joan of Arc who fought valiantly and won victories to try and free France from tyranny during the 100 years war. And then there was Winston Churchill whose bulldog spirit lifted the morale of the whole English people, enabling them to win a war where they were out-manned, outgunned and outmanoeuvred by a better trained, better armed and better equipped force.
Then there were the early disciples and Apostles in the Church who spread the gospel of Salvation throughout the world. Their work has continued down to this day where about one-third of the world’s population now call themselves Christians. This was great leadership done right by any measure.
The Greatest Leader
And this of course brings me to the greatest leader of all: Jesus Christ.
There has never been anyone like Jesus before or since who has embodied the truest form of leadership known to mankind. His leadership capabilities are what have enabled His work to continue unabated to this day.
If we want to understand true leadership, then we can do no better than to study the words and ways of Jesus Christ. In fact, a great deal of the Bible could be a treatise on leadership done right.
What is the purpose of leadership?
Leaders have a task to do that is unlike any other.
A leaders work is to convince those around him or her to follow. Their goal is to have others understand what they are seeking, what the goal is, and to align the thinking of people around them to follow the same path.
This is the essence of leadership: to make disciples. That is, to encourage others to follow.
This is true of any venture where leadership is necessary. It doesn’t matter whether it is in business, politics, religion, sports, or anything else. Leaders make disciples.
So the question arises: how do they make disciples? The answer to that comes down to the attributes of a great leader. And given that Jesus Christ was the greatest of all leaders, a study of His life should give us the answers. After all, He has several billion followers today and who knows how many others there were in years gone by?
What makes a great leader?
If Jesus was the greatest leader, which He certainly was as measured by the number of disciples He has had, then what made Him such a great leader?
The answer is that He came to serve. He was the epitome of the true servant leader.
Consider these words He spoke to His disciples.
"But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve." (Matthew chapter 20, verses 25-28)
Jesus contrasts how the leaders in the world behave with how He behaved.
The Gentile leaders seek to be served by others. They come to take for themselves and desire that people do their bidding. They operate on the basis of “what’s in it for me.”
But Jesus taught His disciples both by word and by deed, that true leadership is about service and serving others.
The servant leader
Jesus came to serve. Look at His life. He travelled from town to town teaching and preaching a better way. He healed, helped and encouraged the people He met along the way, and He served even to the point of giving up His life so that we could have eternal life.
Service must be at the heart of a true leader, and when we serve, people listen and they follow. They follow because the heart of the servant leader is not “what can I get out of this,” but instead it is, “how may I help.” The focus of the servant leader is others, not themselves.
To be a servant leader means to be selfless, humble and compassionate. But they are also strong, reliable, and dependable. They do not use the power of leadership for personal gain but to serve others.
So if your heart is to be a leader in whatever field you pursue, seek to serve and not be served. That is leadership done right.
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375