Lessons in Leadership from Jesus

Jesus displays servant leadership by washing his disciple's feet (courtesy of Turn Back To God)

Today is Good Friday, an important occasion in the Christian calendar of events. As Christians around the world commemorate this day, I thought it is timely to reflect on some of the leadership lessons from Jesus and how they apply to us in our personal, professional and social lives. Much of what I share below isn't new, but I thought its timely given the significance of this day.

What are some of these guiding principles?

Servant Leadership

Jesus always professed himself to be a servant rather than a master. This is best captured in the following Biblical verse:

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Mark 10, Verse 45

Through his life's work, He demonstrated that a true leader should always put his followers needs before him and not refrain from rolling up one's sleeves in doing the good work. This principle is most clearly demonstrated by the act of Jesus washing His disciple's feet (John 13), which demonstrated how leadership should be done.

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Jesus provides an excellent example of leading by doing. Throughout the gospels (which share the story of His life), one can read about how Jesus was always on the move, performing acts of mercy, kindness and healing as He shares lessons in life. Naturally, His miracles and other acts of mercy and love inspired many to believe in what He also shared verbally.

Sacrificial Leadership

The supreme act of His crucifixion on the cross was Jesus' example of how much He was willing to give up for what He believe in. This made Him one of the most significant of many other martyrs throughout history who chose to die for their cause. While this may be a rather extreme example, it could be interpreted in how people in leadership should stand up to "take the heat" and bear the responsibility of their subordinates' failure even when it clearly wasn't their own.

Community Building and Influence

Jesus did not work alone. Neither did He just broadcast his message or heal a faceless nameless mass audience in the thousands. Rather He worked through appointing leaders and managers, and allowing them to spread His influence to their own circles. To do so, much of His time and efforts were invested in two smaller circles of disciples and followers:

1) His group of 12 disciples (or apostles), out of which the inner circle of Peter, James and John were closest to Him.

2) A bigger group of 70 disciples who were assigned specific tasks to do good, heal and spread the word.

Obviously, the principles of community building, appointment of "senior" and "middle" management leaders, and grassroots oriented marketing has been a powerful organising force for Christianity (as it is for most major religions). As history has shown, the apostles and disciples played crucial roles in helping to disseminate the doctrines of Christ and to reach various communities. This brings us to the final and probably most well known point.

Evangelism and Word Of Mouth Marketing

Jesus is the original purveyor of the principles of evangelism, Word Of Mouth marketing, referral marketing, buzz marketing, and all other forms of word spreading marketing practices. Without the benefit of CNN, BBC, National radio, the Internet, or Mobile Apps, He still managed to get the message across to billions around the world. The way to do it is through spreading the word and encouraging one's followers to do so. This is best captured in Matthew 28:19 which says

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"

If you're interested, you can check out this book on "The Leadership Lessons of Jesus" for more valuable insights.  Meanwhile, let's all remember the significance of this day, and what it meant for Christians 2,000 years ago.

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