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Surprising Lessons on Leadership From Jesus

A few years ago I (Bill) read a leadership book by a Christian author and publisher that made no mention of Jesus. Not one. Yet most people in the world respect Jesus and are open to learning from him.

In our Soul Shepherding Institute in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, we teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the very best leader. He knows how to help you excel in your work and ministry! (We’d love to have you join us in our Institute. You can earn a certificate in the ministry of Spiritual Direction.)

Here are just a few of the Lord Jesus Christ’s surprising lessons on leadership:

1.  Jesus did not push himself on people.

In Jesus’ “advertising campaigns” he didn’t push himself or his services on people; he simply offered compelling invitations that would bless them (Luke 14:15-24).

2.  Jesus did not focus on numbers, but a number of names.

If Jesus was a typical leader his final report to his boss might have been, “God, I shared the Gospel in 38 cities, multiplied fishes and loaves to feed 20,000 hungry people, healed 250 sick, completed the initial phase of leadership training for 120 disciples, and raised two people from the dead.” Instead, he said, “Father, I loved those that you gave me and now I give them back to you better and stronger. Here are Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha, Mary Magdalene, and…” (John 17:6-8).

3.  Jesus trained Type A and Type B leaders.

The “pillars” Peter, James, and John were Type A. So was Paul. So am I! But Jesus also trained more laid back, gentle, soft-spoken, and compassionate leaders like Andrew (John 1:40-42, 6:8, 12:20-22). More than half of the twelve were so much in the background that they are barely mentioned in the Gospels. Kristi is a Type B leader and you may be also.

4.  Jesus did “ministry business” in a relaxed, personal, and fun way.

The Lord turned water into wine to bless people at a wedding party (John 2:1-11). He laughed and played with little children (Mark 10:13). He ate meals in homes (Matthew 9:10; Luke 7:36). He told stories (Mark 4:34) and jokes too (Mark 9:43-47). He took his staff on walks in grain fields (Mark 2:23) and vineyards (John 15:1-8). He also took his staff on boat rides (Luke 8:22) and picnics at the beach (John 21:9-10).

5.  Jesus was not in a hurry to get things done.

Our Master waited on God’s timing to launch his public ministry, working as an obscure “tekton” (stonecutter or carpenter) in a small town for 18 years. It was “sweat work” and probably he was mistreated. He practiced his teachings, like persevering in prayer, giving freely to those who ask, and blessing those that curse you (Luke 2:51-52; Mark 6:3).

6. Jesus relied on God’s affirmation—not people’s.

Jesus did not need to please people to be secure and confident, he depended on God’s validation (Mark 1:11; John 5:44). He sought to please his Father, submitted to him in all things, and acted in partnership with him to bless people (John 5:19, 44, 8:28-29, 12:49-50).

7.  Jesus did not expect to always have clarity on what to do next—he trusted God for that.

The carpenter and Christ waited and prayed. He watched to see what was happening around him and trusted God as he took his next step (Mark 1:32-39; Luke 6:12-13; John 7:1-10).

The Soul Shepherding Institute is a two-year journey in an authentic community of apprentices to Christ Jesus. Over 100 pastors and other women and men who are serving God in diverse roles around the world have joined us. Now it’s your turn! Watch our three-minute video to learn more!



Listen to Soul Talks “Jesus as CEO of Your Life and Leadership.” In this episode, listen in on one of Bill’s sessions during the Soul Shepherding Institute entitled Jesus as CEO. Leadership can be discouraging when we do it in our own strength. But Kingdom leadership is an invitation to Jesus’ easy yoke.

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