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My aim is to take your thoughts about leadership and expand them by making a case that every Christian is a leader regardless of where they stand within any hierarchical structure. For example, a husband is a leader, as you already know, but so is his wife. “Are you a leader” is one of those questions you don’t need to ask a Christian. If you’re a believer, you are a Christian leader. Though no leader has perfected their leadership skills, all responsible Christian leaders progressively change into the best kind of leaders they can be. A parent, child, church member, employee, and friend are all leaders who want to become better ones.
Of course, there are different kinds of leaders, which is why you want to understand what it means to be a leader within a stratification structure. A wife may be subordinate in some ways to her husband, but her role does not mean she is not a leader. A wife can walk in humble submission to her husband and be an astonishing leader within her calling to be a wife to him and a friend to others. A son or daughter can function exceptionally well in their dual roles as “subordinate children and leaders” within their spheres of influence, including how they help their parents to be better people. All church members have similar opportunities for submission to their leadership while leading them appropriately (Hebrews 13:17, 10:25).
Jesus functioned this way when He lived among us. He was a humble and confident leader of multitudes while humbly submitting to the authority of His Father (John 6:38). Following and leading should not be self-negating roles. The real question points to the quality of your leadership style rather than if you are a leader, which brings us back to the traits that make a competent leader. If you want to see what a perfected leadership model looks like, Jesus is an excellent example for us to observe. Specifically, I want to zero on the events just before His crucifixion. You can read it in Matthew 21:1-17.
And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee (Matthew 21:10-11).
One of the characteristics of an excellent leader is that he breaks down poor stereotypes and horrible preconceived notions about leadership. He can wipe away any bad experiences you may have had with an ineffective leader. The people of Jesus’ day knew what leadership looked like—via the Pharisees—and it was not how Jesus led. To be with Jesus, you must think other-worldly, which is how we experience Him. (Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
God’s ways and our ways oppose each other (Isaiah 55:8-9), which is why humility is the first and most essential characteristic of a Christian leader. Without a humbled heart before the Lord (and others), everything else that pours out of a leader will eventually collapse. Jesus came to Jerusalem on a donkey, not a warhorse.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons (Matthew 21:12).
After stepping off His donkey, He went into the temple to give it a cleanse. That was an unusual “next move” on His part because it seemed to fly in the face of humility. It was His way of staking claim to His Kingship. Humility and authority should not be antagonistic because they need each other. A humility that resembles a doormat is not humility at all. That’s fear. Humility unhooks the soul from fearful self-awareness while releasing it to do God’s will—whatever that may be (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Authority without humility creates a devil whose two main interests are selfish ambition and a glorified reputation. Jesus was free from both of these sins because the condition of His heart was humility. Humility does not negate speaking the truth, exhibiting courage, or being authoritative. Be who God wants you to be, but be so with humility.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them (Matthew 21:14).
Jesus entered the temple humbly, did not hold back from being authoritarian, and He was an approachable servant. (Also see Mark 10:45) The self-exalted, self-pronounced, self-appointed vital people in the temple that day were angry at what Jesus was doing. The blind and lame people were not interested in the religious leader’s reputation or self-importance. They recognized Jesus for who He was and wanted to be with Him. Humility receives humble leadership. And vice versa. The humble folks received Christ, but the proud ones resisted His humble leadership.
Pride and humility are like oil and water. If the leader is humble and the followers are too, there will be sweet communal harmony between them. The blind and lame were not afraid of His authoritative leadership style because they experienced it in the context of His humility. Though Jesus (and all excellent leaders) had more characteristics than humility, courage, and approachability, these three stood out just before He was put to death, which is another unusual characteristic of a competent leader: He will die for you.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:13-14).
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).