“Everything rises and falls on leadership” This quote from John Maxwell has a poignant ring to it today. I say that because there seems to be such a lack of leadership on display that it is astounding. Leadership has nothing to do with a position; it has everything to do with integrity of heart. Honesty cannot be separated from a true leader. Leadership is not about passing blame or deflecting criticism. Leaders know what they are doing and why. Leaders accept responsibility when they need to and never throw others under the bus to do it. I know as a ministry leader it is important to lead with grace and intention. What I mean is that when there are issues that come up, I take the heat and train my leaders in how we could do that better. It means that I, as the leader, need to know what is going on with those directly under me and stay involved in the process. We need leadership, not arrogance.
“People emulate what they see modeled.” The point being that the best way to develop leaders is to model what the developing leaders are to become. Jesus did this everywhere He went with His disciples. One of the more vivid examples comes in John 13 when Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. It says, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” (John 13:3) The next statement is incredible. It says, “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.” (John 13:4) The way that is worded states that as a result of His position and authority, the natural place for Him to be was serving. Of course, this was a vivid example for His disciples, who were perplexed by this. Jesus tells them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14) He wants them to continue His ministry by doing for others what He has done for them. Danny Thomas says, “ Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It is what you do for others.” I agree. This is what Jesus modeled in His ministry.
My concern is that those in positions of leadership today are not modeling true leadership. This is happening all over the place in government and in business. The prevailing mindset places the emphasis on the position held and not on the people they are serving. I believe this is a fatal flaw in any leadership. As soon as the leader loses sight of the people, they push people away. Pride is no friend to someone who has a position of power and it will take people down. At the same time, they are passing this mindset on to others. None of the influence on potential leaders by current leaders will have any lasting impact without the context of relational, shepherding, leadership. This was true with Jesus’ disciples as they left everything they had to follow Jesus. Of course, in the process they gained a lot of insight from that personal relationship with Him. One example of this is Luke 11, where Jesus is praying and one of the disciples ask to be taught to pray. There was a relational context here that allowed Jesus to teach them and also correct them when they were being foolish.
Christian leaders are called to a different way of life and leading. It is leadership that shepherds people rather than forces them into some standardized scale. It is leadership that values the people over the process. It is not about becoming the greatest, but becoming the least, and serving the most. This kind of leadership grows others and causes the world to stand up and notice. All glory, then, goes to God, where it belongs.