When asking, ”what is the best way to lead other leaders?”, it is important that we look in the right places to find answers. Before drawing on business wisdom, sports analogies or our own experience we need to first look at the life of Jesus and ask “How did Jesus do it?”
I am not advocating a return to the W.W.J.D. bracelet era, replete with a full product line at the Christian bookstore to make sure we can wear and plaster the phrase everywhere we go. Rather I am encouraging that we actually look at how Jesus did things. Not just, “what would He do?”, but “what did He do?” The goal is to pay as much attention to the way we do things as to what we do. For the question at hand we must begin by asking, “How did Jesus lead leaders?”
The leaders in the life of Jesus were of course his disciples and there are some significant take-aways when it comes to how He led them.
Invite. One of the phrases that grates on me is “we need to recruit some leaders.” Is this the US army? All Gospel accounts describe Jesus creating his leadership team through personal invitation. The power of a personal invitation is exponentially greater than a generic call for people to sign up.
With. Most likely, the reasons we need leaders in the first place is because a job needs to get done. Jesus had the job of announcing and modeling His Kingdom but He never asked his disciples to do it FOR Him, instead he asked them to do it WITH Him.
Relational. Modeling and creating an “invite / with” culture is an important starting point and sets the tone for how we lead those who respond. It communicates that you are interested in relationship. The words of Jesus to his disciples when He says “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends,” (John 15:15) are very telling as to how Jesus led them. A prevalent leadership paradigm says you must keep a distance from those you lead. This is not what Jesus shows us. Over the years, some of my greatest friendships have been with those I have led.
Developmental. On a leadership scale of 1-10 I would say the disciples probably fell somewhere around a 5 when Jesus picked them. Isn’t it fascinating that none of them were rabbis or proven leaders? They all needed work. When I look for leaders I will take a person with a servant’s heart over a polished and self-confident leader any day. I know their heart is in the good place for the process of leadership development. Servanthood is the door to leadership in the Kingdom.
If people get the sense that you only want them around because of what they can do for you, the relationship will be short lived. People can quickly see when they are being used. We must build people, viewing the task as a vehicle for doing that. This means we have to be more interested in who they are as a person than in what they do. One way to help us treat people well is to refrain from refer to them as resources. When we view something as a resource we see it as something to consume and then dispose of. Money, buildings and equipment are resources; people are image bearers who are worth dying for.
In summary, the leadership model of Jesus is inviting a rag-tag bunch of guys to participate in the Kingdom vision and becoming friends while cultivating the necessary character to transform them into great Kingdom leaders. Let’s do that!