Submitted by: Terry March, Postulant to the Diaconate
The world’s way of leadership is about power and manipulation, achieving goals by bending others to your will, and forcing desired outcomes. As Christians, we have remarkable examples of leadership that turns the worldly system of leadership upside down. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, tells us there is a better way. Jesus personifies all the virtues and attributes of leadership and not only tells us, through scripture, how to lead, but more importantly shows us the true actions of leadership.
Jesus talked about the worldly model of leadership when the disciples were squabbling about who would be the greatest. Jesus tells them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves.” Jesus calls us to be different and tells us that godly leadership is about serving others. When we serve by coming along side others, helping them reach their goals, what we are really doing is loving them.
Jesus was not afraid to challenge those he led and out of love saw the potential of those whom he called to be leaders. If we had been there when Jesus called the apostles to follow Him, we may have only seen them as fishermen, tax collectors, zealots or thieves. Jesus looked beyond what they were and instead saw what they could become. Jesus believed in his followers, gave them important things to do and inspired them to experience the world with love to develop their souls to new achievements.
Because of His great and perfect love, Jesus was patient with others and followed the prompts of God. During the arrest of Jesus, one of His worried disciples drew a sword, struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off the slave’s right ear. Without anger, Jesus said, “No more of this!” Jesus’ admonishment of the disciple’s action was kind, yet firm. Jesus then quietly touched and healed the servant’s ear. A leader shows love to others and can give corrective feedback in a calm, loving and helpful manner when mistakes are made.
Leading like Jesus is a simple concept in principle but sometimes difficult to live out in our daily lives. We must remember that the people we meet in our churches, marketplaces, workplaces, and elsewhere in the world are all God’s people and are our brothers and sisters. We are called to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, striving for justice and peace, and respecting the dignity of every human being. God knows we are not perfect leaders like Jesus but God has given us the perfect example by which to lead. And we are called to grow into greater leadership, primarily because a leader was willing to invest love, patience, kindness, time and effort to lead us.