A good friend told me long ago, "People need leaders." I was a young pastor and he was a captain of firefighters. We were leaders in our respective fields and I was his pastor—and we mentored one another as fellow followers of Jesus.
His statement resonated in my heart as true. It reminded me of my responsibility in God's kingdom. Not just as a pastor, but as a follower of Jesus. Discipleship done the way Jesus did with the twelve apostles will naturally produce leaders.
An important characteristic of the Jesus People Movement was the importance of life example in leadership. I'm concerned this is a neglected emphasis today in all aspects of leadership, but especially in God's kingdom.
Life example is important for leadership in God's kingdom
Look at the leadership of Jesus and what He endeavored to instill in His followers.
What was the key? Jesus was intentional about who He discipled and He did this through shared life—it was personal.
People were drawn to Him in a natural way. From the first to the last, people saw Him, heard Him, and could not ignore Him. Even those who opposed Him and later plotted to kill Him couldn't ignore Him.
So what was it about Jesus that drew people to Him? His design for leadership was to build from the ground up—a grassroots leadership. He set the example with His humility.
People saw Jesus and heard Him but could not ignore Him
Jesus used no fanfare or clever strategy to draw more people. In fact, He often avoided big crowds of people and His teaching and expectations for following Him seemed to push people away from following (John 6:60-66).
This is so backward to what is popular and the prevailing mantra of more and bigger is better.
But that's not the way of Jesus. It's also not the way of great leadership, according to Jim Collins in his book, From Good to Great.
What set apart the companies that rose to greatness? One essential—humble leadership. In a business model, this means putting the company and your people above your self. This was the example of Jesus for the kingdom of God.
Humility is essential for great leadership and to lead like Jesus
Jesus the Good Shepherd
Leadership in God's kingdom involves following the example of Jesus. This is seen throughout the gospels but illustrated and explained in John 10 where Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
Just as people need leaders—sheep need a shepherd—a shepherd they can trust.
Several years ago, I was asked what the basics were to pastoring and planting a church by a young missionary pastor in Thailand whom I mentor.
I came up with three words to summarize the responsibilities of a pastor—love, feed, and lead—based on John 10:1-18.
3 words can summarize the responsibilities of a pastor—love, feed, and lead
I'd like to unpack these three words related to the leadership of Jesus and pastoral leadership in additional posts. Hopefully, you'll see how they can apply to leadership at any level for anyone who is a follower of Jesus.
As a pastor and missionary overseas, I've found myself challenged by the unending demand and task of leading people in ministry. In the process of leading, I developed a basic list of ministry priorities and values.
Feel free to download that list here—