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Lecture 13: Leadership Values of Jesus
Course: Leading Healthy Church Culture
Lecture 13: Leadership Values of Jesus
A. Leading by Example and not by Position
We now approach the nexus of this course in terms of how we define Christ centered leadership and what it looks like and where the focus is. First: it is founded on relationships rather than control. There is a fundamental reality that to lead like Jesus requires the leader to enter into relationships with those they lead. There is no leadership without relationship in a Christ centered model. The idea of span of control is not a Christ centered concept, but a span of relationships is a Christ centered concept. A span of control is a management concept from the early 20th century, but a span of relationship is what Jesus was all about. So, the first fundamental premise, there must be relationship if it is going to be Christ centered leadership. Secondly, it is activated by influence rather than by position. Remember that Jesus held no earthly position; his only authority was from the Father. He was not a CEO of anything; in fact he had no place to even sleep. Those that followed him followed him because they chose to follow him. What we see in leadership today, often-times people lead out of position rather than by influence. I am sure that there are those that you have followed that didn’t have a position. You could probably think of people in your life that you would have followed regardless of their position. Then there are others that you have followed only because they had the position. You can obviously see the difference between the two. The reality is if leaders have to depend on their position to get people to follow, then they have sacrificed the ability to influence. I learned earlier if I had to exert the full extent of my positional power, I had forfeited my capacity to influence the people that I lead. There becomes a disproportionate balance if we apply the position and the power that comes with it; we lose the capacity to influence.
B. Leadership vs Management
So, this says that leadership can happen from anywhere within the structure. Leaders that lead the people that follow them can be a Sunday school teacher that leads the elder. It can be a line person that leads the CEO in many respects, as it is really about influence. It is not positional; management on the other hand is delegated authority. This is an important distinction; management is about delegated authority, you don’t manage unless you have been delegated the authority position to manage. But leadership is a different function. It is fundamentally about influence rather than position. Jesus used influence exclusively with the people he led. Thirdly, and this may be what sets it apart, the focus of a Christ centered leader is on the follower’s potential rather than productivity. This is a profound statement because this is what Jesus was about. Jesus could have chosen, based upon the people he influenced and dealt with, he could have had the largest mega-church in the history of human kind. He could have had a very successful ministry, but instead he risk it all on investing his life on a few followers who would become the agents to plant and develop the early church; that church which you and I are involved in after two thousand years. That was a huge risk to have put his energy, his priority and his focus on these twelve people, one of whom rebelled. But these twelve people and a few others; these are the people Jesus invested in and he was focused on their potential and out of that God did his work. If there is anything I can say to you, this is what distinguishes a Christ Centered leader. It is really about seeing a priority invested in those people that follow. If I do that well, God will take care of the fruit; God will take care of the productivity.
C. Christ Centered Leadership is a Difficult Model
This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about productivity? No, it doesn’t, but it takes a huge risk to focus in on the potential of how I can help this person, these people that I’m leading to reach their highest Kingdom potential. And finally, it is committed to a common purpose, rather than a leader’s agenda. That also says that it is not committed to the follower’s purpose; it is committed to a common purpose. These four are to be taken as a package. If you separate any of them out, it becomes a crippled model of leadership. But taken together, it is a beautiful model of what Christ was all about and what he calls us to as Christ centered leaders in today’s world. There is a hard love in committing to a person’s potential. This isn’t soft leadership necessarily; it is sometimes focused on hard love in order to help people move in the direction of their potential. This is not about a wishy washy kind of leadership; it takes enormous courage to lead this way. Think of the courage it took Jesus to focus on these twelve people when he could have done it himself and by the way, Jesus had no backup plan. There was no second chance; there was no, if this doesn’t work, what then? This was the plan. It was focused on these people’s potential that would carry it forward, those who would do greater works after he was gone. It is a powerful model.
From the Audience: One of the things we have been trying to do here at the church is to emphasize and grow the sense of team ministry. This is about relationships within the people on those teams. It is important that we have these models as the basis as they affect how a few teams work. Another Person: I keep thinking in regards to these four points; I work in a local law-enforcement agency that has moral issues and other challenges due to people being in positions rather than influence. Within this organization, if you do these four things, it would be very different. Then I think if we could do that in the church, this would create profound witnesses within the community. As people, we are designed for relationships and yet we tend to want to be in control and keep those same relationships at arm’s length. Another person: I wish there was some research to apply this to schooling and how to deal with students in a learning situation. It seems to me that learning is also more about relationship than just a dictatorial atmosphere. A teacher usually wants to do their best for these students as you are definitely more engaged with them. Another person: within the current system, if you have one teacher with twenty-five students, you can’t have that influence. The one rule school house had the concept of the older children would work with the younger children. So you were doing about one on three or four. But this would also be risky.
D. We have Jesus as an Example
I have shared this with CEO’s around the world and I can’t tell you how much push back that I get. I am delighted with this group, but the CEO’s that hear this say that you can’t possibly tell me that I’m not focused on productivity, but on follower potential. The reason they say that; frankly, when they show up at their board meetings, their boards are holding them responsible for production. This is also in the short term, the last quarter as such and not the potential in the next year or two years or more. So, you feel that tension, this is the tension. So, as we talk to leaders, this is a risk, a massive risk, but it is the risk that Jesus took. It is the risk to say that he would commit to put his time and energy and focus on developing the highest kingdom potential of those that he lead and through that, production will happen. The fruit will be born and this is exactly what happened. But it was a huge risk involved and there was no backup plan. From the audience: there is also a huge risk on relying on control in terms of production and leaders agenda. You can only look at cooperative America and see some of the companies that no longer exist; even recently an internet company is experiencing this having its fourth CEO in five years. So, it is not as if the left column is actually working in business; there are a lot of examples where it isn’t. Another person: we assume that if we try to go to the relationship side, there would be chaos; a fear that it would fall apart. If no one is in charge, there wouldn’t be any outcomes. This is the fear of many.
E. This is a Package of Four
So, this doesn’t take away the role of function, but it does affect how we go about our approach to leadership. From the audience: Jesus took twelve and one washed out and he supernaturally stepped in and got Paul. So, maybe there was a backup plan! That is a good point. Another person: I think the fear of people who are in business; I think it is important for everyone to have that common purpose. When Tim and I worked together, I told him that I was committed to his highest kingdom potential, but I also recognized that I was ultimately responsible to answer to the board for this organization and that is how we function. But that is the risk of this. I think that it is the right direction for what we are trying to accomplish as we reflect the life and leadership of Jesus. From the audience: is it an either-or or is it a both-and? It is both-and because at the end of the day, I am responsible but as I focus I believe with all my heart that Tim and others on our team are reaching their highest kingdom and potential and then the productive will happen. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t hold him to account on deadlines, etc. Those are realities in our ministry, but it is all about reaching the highest kingdom potential. Audience: Basically, what we are looking at is power through authoritarianism or power to influence. Some leaders have worked at those two things and they say that there is a third option which is called situational leadership. This is based on situations, the leader moves in one direction or another. Situational leadership which is also called consistency leadership and in certain contexts, there are certain appropriate approaches to this kind of leadership. In terms of the military, when you are getting shot at, there is no time for a consensus. If you don’t get your head down, you are going to die.
We will deal with this within leading teams. This has to do with leading people based upon their needs and where they are in terms of maturity. This is a Tim Blanchard concept. All these are very true and they do take into account. But know that there are people who can be just as evil because they are leading by influence rather than position. You can see some of this over the history of the world that gained their power through influence, not by position. Adopt Hitler was one of them. He was able to rally people because of his capacity to influence before he ever had the positional power. Jim Jones is also an example; so this isn’t about taking one of these and isolating it. We look at the package and recognize that it is about relationships, about influence; it’s about follower potential and common purpose. When we see this as a package, then it begins to make sense.