I recently read an article entitled “The Top 28 Greatest Leaders of All Time.” The list included excellent candidates such as Napoleon, Nelson Mandela, George Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr. Without a doubt, every one of these individuals is well deserving of being considered one of the greatest leaders of all time.
Surprisingly, the list did not include Jesus. How many other people have been able to turn the world on its head in the span of only three years and also manage to take 12 of the least underwhelming individuals and train them up to lead His cause once He was gone? One would think Jesus should have been able to fit somewhere in the list of 28.
In the familiar story of Jesus feeding the five thousand in Matthew 14:13-21, we see a great picture of the way Jesus led and the way we ought to lead, too. Here are 4 leadership lessons from Jesus.
4 Leadership Lessons from Jesus
1. Jesus Was Willing To Be Interrupted
The story starts off by noting Jesus was desiring to be alone. He wanted to be in a desolate place by Himself after hearing the news about the tragic death of John the Baptist. This seems like a fair request. His cousin had been brutally killed and all He wanted was to be alone and not bothered for a few minutes. However, the crowds followed Him, and rather than becoming angry or frustrated, He looked on them with compassion and healed all their sick.
Leaders emulating Jesus need to do the same. There will always be people who are in need and we will have already made our own plans. However, this interruption provides Jesus with a great opportunity for ministry. Often the interruptions in life are God sent movements to be a part of His work.
2. Jesus Was Willing To Do The Work
After healing their sick and teaching them throughout the day, it became late in the evening and the crowds became hungry. The disciples encouraged Jesus to send them away to find food before they had a hungry mob on their hands. However, Jesus says to His disciples, “You give them something to eat.” This almost seems like a cop-out. It appears as though Jesus is too good to wait on tables so He pawns the task off on the lowly disciples. Yet, we’ve already seen Jesus is willing to roll up His sleeves and work. He will touch their sick. He will spend hours teaching them. He spends the day with them even when He needed some time for himself. He is not above the task.
Leading like Jesus means the mundane tasks are not above us. Leaders don’t pawn off work merely because they don’t want to do it, or they feel they are too good for the task. Leaders lead by example and lead through service just as Jesus did. True leaders are willing to be in the trenches and do the work with their followers.
3. Jesus Was Willing To Bring Others Along
Despite His willingness to do the work, Jesus did not attempt to do everything on His own. He trained and developed those around them. When the only solution the disciples could find was to send the crowds away, Jesus challenged them to do something greater. He is willing to stretch and strengthen those around Him.
As leaders, are we developing those around us? Do we take the time to empower others to take part in the ministry we are already doing? Are we willing to be patient with those God has placed under our leadership in order to help them dream and see that God may be up to something bigger than they can imagine? Unlike Jesus, we are not able to do everything even if it were our desire. If Jesus was willing and ready to build up leaders around Him, we should be doing the same.
4. Jesus Was Willing To Do What Others Could Not
Jesus gives leaders a pattern to follow. He was willing to do the work, He was willing to bring others along, and when they couldn’t quite come through He was willing to do what they could not. When all the disciples could manage to scrounge up was a meager 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, Jesus did the impossible and multiplied the food. Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for not finding enough food or coming up with a better plan. He honored their genuine effort.
Just like Jesus, leaders are willing to graciously pick up the slack where plans have fallen short. There is no need for harsh rebukes or stern lectures making people feel less than valuable. When those around the leader have made honest and deliberate efforts, the leader is willing to accomplish what others could not.
While individuals like Napoleon and George Washington likely have numerous leadership traits we can learn from, there is no greater leader than Jesus. Emulating Jesus makes a leader worth following. It may take time and effort and some extra energy we would rather not exert, but when we lead like Jesus and allow ourselves to be led by Jesus, we see more accomplished than we ever thought possible.
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Andrew Stucker is the Senior Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Americus, Georgia.