Click to download the audio version of “Holistic Education: Leadership”

Anthony Nelson - Member of the Board of the Impact A Life FoundationHello Friends,

This is Anthony.  Can I first tell you that it is such an honor to be in a group such as this, that is seeking to grow in the Lord and draw closer Him.  My prayer for this community is that we would all grow closer to Jesus and put our full trust in Him.  That as we grow in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, we would take all that we’re learning and all that Jesus is revealing to us, to go be a witness to the communities around us.

In today’s lesson we will be focusing on the topic of leadership.  Some of us are natural leaders while others are natural followers.  Regardless of what may be natural for you, each of us will have opportunities in our life to take on roles of leadership.  Some of you will take on the role of a Pastor, some may manage a business, some of you are, or will become Teachers, and many of you are parents or will become a parent someday.  In each of those roles there is either an individual or a group of individuals that need to be led or are looking for leadership.  The question then becomes, how will you choose to lead?  Today I would like to focus on 7 different leadership principles that Jesus Christ demonstrated during His ministry on earth.  I’m sure there are many more leadership principles that we can pull from Jesus’ ministry, but I think the following seven principles create a good model that we can all follow.

First, when we look at the life of Jesus, we can see that He led by example.  Jesus always led by example.  As a leader, it’s important to remember that the people you lead are looking for an example.  The further you go, the further they will go.  In John 13:15 Jesus says, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.” (ESV).  What Jesus is saying here is, follow my lead!  You have seen what I have done, now you go do the same.

Throughout the New Testament, we see this principle of leading by example being taught and demonstrated by Jesus and the Apostles.  In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul is writing to Timothy and says, “don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love and in purity.’  And in 1 Peter 5:3, Peter is reminding Pastors to lead by example.  It says, “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”  In other words, he’s reminding leaders in the church that it is their responsibility to lead by example.

The second principle we see when we look at the life of Jesus is that He helped those that followed Him find a greater purpose.  As we look at the life of Jesus, He seemed to touch people in a way that brought them to a new level of purpose for their life.  As a leader, we need to consider how we can work with those around us to help them find greater purpose.  You see, Jesus tended to stretch his followers and encouraged them to think bigger than what they even thought possible.  In Matthew 28: 19-20, Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Jesus is clearly asking His disciples to think BIG!  Bigger than their village, bigger than their nation.  He is asking them to reach ALL nations, but not by themselves.  He reminds them that He will be there to help through His Holy Spirit.  As a leader, helping those you lead find greater purpose and supporting them through their journey is so important.

The third leadership principle we see when we look at the life of Jesus is that He affirmed and encouraged people to reach their full potential.  Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”  Jesus always saw people for who God created them to be.  He spoke encouragement and affirmation to His followers and reminded them that through Him, they have potential for great things.  In John 14:12, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  Can you imagine the looks on each of the faces of the believers that heard Jesus say this?  I don’t know for certain, but I can imagine they must have thought, “How can I do greater things than Jesus?”  Jesus was telling the believers, because you believe in Me, you will have access to so much more.  This was a promise and a word of encouragement to the believers then and believers today.  In the same way Jesus encouraged and offered affirmation, as leaders we want to make sure that we are also affirming those we lead.

A fourth leadership principle we see when we look at the ministry of Jesus is that He trusted people with responsibility.  Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”  If we want see people rise to the next level of responsibility, we need to make sure that we’re providing opportunities for people to grow.  1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”  As believers have been entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have been given the responsibility to share it with those we encounter.  When you think about it, that’s a huge responsibility, but God trusts us to follow through with what He has asked of us.  So just as Jesus Christ gave us the responsibility of sharing His message with the world, as a leader we also need to trust those we lead with manageable levels of responsibility.

As we continue moving along here, the fifth leadership principle that we see through the life of Jesus is that He gave people honest feedback.  In Matthew 17:14-20 we read the story of a demon possessed boy that despite their efforts, the disciples could not heal.  When Jesus arrived at the scene, he asked the father to bring his boy to Him.  Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was instantly healed.  Verse 19 of the passage says this, “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ (referring to the demon) He (Jesus) replied, ‘Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard see, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Do you see the feedback that Jesus provided here?   Jesus provided some upfront and honest feedback about what the disciples were lacking to be able to heal the demon possessed boy – they had a lack of FAITH.  But instead of dwelling on their lack of faith, Jesus goes on to tell them that if they can have faith even as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for them.  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Remember that when you choose to give feedback to those you lead, it needs to be honest, but also helpful for building up the person.

The final two principles are very simple, but no less important.  The sixth leadership principle we see in the life of Jesus is the principle of treating others as equals.  Jesus Christ demonstrated this so clearly when He said in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  How amazing is it that Jesus calls those that know Him as friends?  As a leader, it is not our role to act superior to those we lead, but instead it becomes our role to help those we lead grow into the people that God has created them to be.  We are all different and have different giftings, but in the eyes of God, we are all sons and daughters.  It is important to lead from a stance of humility, ready to walk beside and support those you lead who are on their journey.

Finally, a leadership principle that we see in the life of Jesus, but also throughout most of the books of the New Testament is the principle that leaders should pray for those they lead.  This may be the most important thing we do as leaders!  Jesus demonstrated this in the 17th chapter of Matthew where He prayed very specifically for His disciples, but also for all believers then and now.  We also see this demonstrated in the life of Paul.  After his encounter with Jesus, the Apostle Paul spent the rest of his life in ministry leadership modeling this principle of prayer.  Throughout his writings we see prayer after prayer for leaders, for believers, for regions that Christ would be glorified through various people and people groups.  Remember, as we lead, or are being led, it is so important to lift up those we are in relationship with, in prayer.

As we finish this lesson, I thought it would be good to ask each of you to spend some time prayer and ask Jesus to reveal areas in your life where you can become a better leader?  Are there parts of your leadership approach that you would like Jesus to help you work on?

I wish you all a great week and look forward to hearing from you!

God Bless.