Lead like Jesus (part 1)
A true leader seeks the growth of everyone around them. They are able to see a person. Managers, micromanagers, supervisors, most of them don’t even see the person they are over. All they can see is the work ahead of them. A leader should be in the business of developing people. A leader calls people to come up higher. A leader understands impact and influence. A leader understands the importance of each interaction. A leader will use each moment to pour into the individuals they are called to. A lot of people who call themselves leaders are just task masters who like to order people around as servants. But they have not become servants themselves. Plenty of bosses out there have never even worked in the field that they order people around in. When I worked in patient transport in the hospital, my boss at the time had never stepped foot on the floors. She had no understanding of what the job entailed from first hand experience. She just got the job because she knew someone who could put her in position. With that being said, she would chastise us out of ridiculous accusations and assumptions which never made sense. No one who worked for her actually respected her. Because of the way she led people (which was full of accusation and assumption). Everyone was divided. No one was trustworthy. And those that caught on to how toxic it was were talked about just because they didn’t want to be a part of the “high school style drama.”
It doesn’t take long before people catch on to bad leaders. Sometimes it’s hard to spot and other times it's far too easy. A person will likely never remember every word that was exchanged in a conversation, but they will however remember how the person made them feel. This is why it’s important to understand how crucial each present moment is and every interaction you have with others. There’s a person I know that people ask me about all the time. In fact, just about everyone I know who happens to meet them say that they give off a bad impression and something is off about them. It is a pretty impressive feat to rub everyone the wrong way immediately. Sadly, as a leader myself (understanding that I have potential to impact everyone within my sphere of influence). I have to somehow find the balance of respecting, honoring and being humble yet bold and direct to this person. What I’ve had to do so far is serve with love. I’ve had to try to show the love of God even during the most testing times. Romans 12:20 says to “feed your enemy when they are hungry, give them drink when they are thirsty and in doing so heaping hot coals upon their heads.” And to not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good! (Romans 12:21)
I’ve come to understand that it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. And if someone won’t listen, we must be the example. We must exemplify the love of Christ, especially when our words will be rejected. Recently, there was a gathering and people were getting up to say kind words about this person. My wife and I both said, “we don’t even know what to say.” Thankfully, probably only by God’s Spirit I actually thought of some kind things to say. And I really meant what I said. This person and I haven’t even been on speaking terms for years. Whenever I would say Hi or Hello, they would literally look away somewhere else. But as I left that meeting, this person shook my hand and said “thank you.” This was a huge deal because I realized, they had never shaken my hand before. Ever since then, every once in a while, they will actually acknowledge my existence. That is a big win.
I’ve encountered many different leaders over the years. I have never encountered anyone like Jesus. His skills as a leader far surpasses anyone else's. I can tell by keeping close watch on the details provided in the gospels. The way he developed his disciples was by doing life with them. He didn’t just say, “show up once a week and be on time.” They got to watch first hand how he handled different situations. The other thing I love about Christ was how well he discerned those that he engaged with. When it came to his disciples, he would take his time with his teachings. When it came to others, he would often use parables. When it came to the religious leaders of the day, he would often correct them. But another thing he did with them was, he discerned their motives. This is something I’m just now learning.
One of my friends has been in a long distance relationship. There have been many red flags. One of them being the fact that she mis-led him for months. When they first started talking, he came up with a great idea to write down their prayers for each other in a notebook and at the end of three months they would share them. After sharing them, they would see how closely their prayers were in alignment. I thought this was a very creative idea. Well, for three months she acted like she was on the same page with him. Once it was time to share the prayers with each other, he found that she wrote down a total of zero prayers. So for three months she had the audacity to mis-lead him. So I felt like she wasted his time when she could have just told him upfront that she didn’t want to do it. It appeared she wasn’t ready for commitment. Many red flags later, she got into an argument with him because he said that Christmas was not literally the day Jesus was born. She started calling him stupid over and over and broke up with him. To top it all off, we found out that the name he knows her by isn’t even her real name. So I got straight with him and said, “block her number and stop talking to her, she’s a counterfeit.” He quickly agreed and said, “I think God is making it very obvious by now.”
A little while later, I got on a three-way call with him and my other brother in the Lord (who was recently converted). And this topic comes up. Except my new brother in the Lord tells him advice that would be good for a married couple, but not for his particular circumstance. He tells him that he needs to go the next twenty days giving her words of affirmation. I was mind blown. Sadly, because of work, I had to get off the phone. When I got back on the call, my friend was praising the new brother in the Lord’s advice. I was perplexed. So I called my friend separately to talk to him individually. I told him it was not good advice and not to talk to that girl anymore. I referred to her as a counterfeit and he goes “so you still think she's a counterfeit?” I was baffled, because both of us had agreed many times over that this was the case. What I came to realize after talking to wise counsel was that before I go on to give people wisdom, I need to discern their hearts' intentions. Because no matter how much you care about someone and want to see them succeed, you may still be casting pearls to swine.
This wise counsel went on to say, the reason he was so quick to talk to the girl again was because he got permission by the newly converted brother in the Lord. He said, when he asked for advice, what he really wanted was permission and you didn’t give it, so he got it elsewhere. So a part of being a good leader, is knowing your audience, using discernment and using wisdom when sharing wisdom.
Another thing to keep in mind is that in order to be a good leader, we must be willing to be a good follower. Proverbs says with wise counsel our plans are established.
Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance. (Proverbs 20:18)
We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all been there. But a part of being a good leader means becoming a mature person. We cannot mature spiritually if we haven’t matured emotionally. Because we must not be led by our emotions. This means I must not be frustrated when people don’t listen. Ultimately, God will do the work in people as he perfects them in the coming days. I can plant seeds and water but only God can give real increase. And my prayer as a leader is to provide healthy soil (environment) for people to grow.
I hope to grow in the LORD as His Spirit teaches me more and more as a leader. But what I never want to lose is the reality that I am His student and His disciple first. Because I cannot afford to make anything about myself. If I truly care for God’s kingdom, then I will take care of His sheep with compassion, the way Jesus did.