Jesus displays servant leadership by washing his disciple’s feet (courtesy of Turn Back To God)
A carpenter’s son born in a humble manger, Jesus of Nazareth could hardly be considered a superstar CEO by today’s yardstick.
However, few others have inspired or influenced as many lives as He has.
As we prepare our hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter Sunday, let us consider some of the personal and organisational leadership lessons from Jesus.
Much of what I share below may not be new. However, I felt that they are timely given the significance of the Easter period.
What are some of the leadership behaviours which Jesus demonstrated during his short but deeply impactful ministry here on Earth?
Jesus always professed himself to be a servant rather than a master. This is best captured in the following Biblical verse:
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10, Verse 45
Through his life’s work, He demonstrated that a true leader should always put his followers needs before him. He did not refrain from rolling up His sleeves in doing the good work that He was tasked to do, even when it required Him to humble Himself before others.
This principle is most clearly demonstrated by the act of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet (John 13), which demonstrated how leadership should be done. He also did not hesitate to serve those who came up to him with their requests for healing and help.
Leadership by Action
Jesus provided an excellent example of leading by doing.
Throughout the four Gospels which share the story of His ministry on Earth, we read about how Jesus was always on the move. He continually performed acts of mercy, kindness and healing as He shared lessons in life. He also cared about the welfare of his followers.
One of the greatest miraculous acts of Jesus was the feeding of five thousand with just five loaves and two fishes. He also healed the lame, the sick and the blind, raised the dead, and cast out demons from the possessed.
Collectively, His miracles and other acts of mercy and love inspired many to believe in what He also shared verbally.
The supreme act of His crucifixion on the cross was Jesus’ example of how much He was willing to give up for what He believe in. This made Him one of the most significant of many other martyrs throughout history who chose to die for their cause.
While a painful death by crucifixion may be a rather extreme example, it could be interpreted in today’s context as how leaders should “take the heat” and “watch their follower’s back” when push comes to shove. Rather than point fingers at those who are under them, true leaders should not hesitate to bear at least some responsibility for their subordinates’ failure.
One of the most interest aspect of Jesus’ leadership is seen in how He used the power of stories to draw forth powerful lessons.
The power of storytelling can be easily demonstrated through the following test:
- Ask any Christian around you if he or she can recite the Ten Commandments – the most prominent rulebook in the Bible.
- See if they can accurately recite those verses. Chances are that most would be unable to complete the task well.
- On the other hand, ask the same person if he or she can relate the Parable of the Good Samaritan or the Parable of the Prodigal Son to you.
See the difference which a great parable or other story makes?
Jesus did not work alone. Neither did He just broadcast his message or heal a faceless nameless mass audience in the thousands.
Rather He worked through appointing leaders and managers, and allowed them to spread His influence to their own circles. To do so, much of His time and efforts were invested in two smaller circles of disciples and followers:
- His group of 12 disciples (or apostles), out of which the inner circle of Peter, James and John were closest to Him.
- A bigger group of 70 disciples who were assigned specific tasks to do good, heal and spread the word.
The principles of community building, appointment of “senior” and “middle” management leaders, and grassroots oriented marketing has been a powerful organising force for Christianity (as it is for most major religions).
As history has shown, the apostles and disciples of Jesus played crucial roles in spreading the gospel.
Many of them died horrific and painful deaths at the hands of their tormentors. However, their sacrifices actually helped to further disseminate the doctrines of Christ and to reach various communities.
This brings us to the final and probably most well known point.
Evangelism and Word Of Mouth Marketing
Jesus was and is the original purveyor of the principles of evangelism, Word Of Mouth marketing, influencer marketing, buzz marketing, and all other forms of grassroots marketing practices.
Without the benefit of CNN, BBC, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, or Buzzfeed, He still managed to get the message across to billions around the world.
The way He did it was through spreading the Word and encouraging His followers to do so. This is best captured in Matthew 28:19 which says
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”
If you’re interested, you can check out this book on “The Leadership Lessons of Jesus” for more valuable insights. Meanwhile, let’s all remember the significance of this day, and what it meant for Christians 2,000 years ago and today.