We will never lead perfectly like Christ, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to imitate him. Every day we make decisions where we choose to lead like Christ or lead like the world. That said, here are five simple leadership practices we can all implement in our daily lives that will help us be more like Jesus.
Patient to begin
The longer I am in ministry, the more I realize how important timing is. God waited to send Jesus at the right time and Jesus waited on the Father to begin his formal ministry. We know that as a boy he was gifted to teach, yet he waited until he was 30 (Luke 3:23)! Our culture tells us to push for goals and strive for dreams as soon as possible, but this puts our efforts at the forefront, not God’s calling. When we wait on God to open the door in his timing (instead of barging through), it demonstrates that God is the leader, not us.
This sounds obvious, but even our church culture can become consumed with pursuing numbers, growth and creativity more than faithfulness. These are good things, but not if they are the end goal. They are secondary to faithfulness to God’s leading. The gospel, ministry, and missions are all God’s initiatives. He will see them through; we are called to follow. We can do nothing a part from him (John 15:5). Jesus was dependent on the Father and did only what He instructed. Let’s not confuse outward results with eternal impact. If we don’t follow the Lord, our initiatives may be grandiose, but they may not bear the eternal impact God wants.
Prayed through decisions
We make hundreds of decisions every day. In an era of spreadsheets, consultants and analytics, we have many decision-making tools. However, information is not the problem. We lack divine guidance in our decision-making. Are we spending time in prayer for big and small everyday decisions? Jesus fasted and prayed before choosing his disciples (Luke 6:12-13). Today, when hiring new staff, it seems we rely more on resume’s than on prayer. Praying through a decision makes the simple statement to the world that we are not the final decision makers.
We often think humility is just how we think, but it is actually something we do. We have to make an effort to be humble. Jesus did not seek attention and he could have had much more if he wanted to flaunt his divinity. Yet he resisted earthly exaltation. Philippians 2:6-8 says that Jesus made himself low like a servant. He radically eliminated barriers between himself and those following him. He ate, slept, and lived with his disciples. There was no pay scale or moving up the power ranks with him and there shouldn’t be today either. The world knows Christ was humble. So when we fail to portray this in our leadership, our hypocrisy is obvious.
Jesus loved people. He invested in them and loved them like no one else. He elevated the worth of humanity to a new level. We know this, yet somehow the focus slowly turns to systems and programs instead of people, and the work supersedes the relationships that make it happen. Partnerships are not just a tool; they are the point! Programs may be used to facilitate relationship, but never the other way around. Our greatest witness to the world is our unity (John 17:21-23), not our creative solutions. Only people will live in eternity, so if we are going to make an eternal impact it must begin and end with people. Yes, this makes our efforts harder to quantify and measure, but it is far more Christ-like and eternal. For those who are more left-brained, investing in people is more strategic too. Programs work for a while and end. Only people can replicate.