Janet, Andrew and I have attended the first of two days of the Leadership Summit this year. And it was terrific – so many lessons on leadership from people such as Gen. Colin Powell, best selling author Patrick Lencioni (one of my favorite business gurus) and many others who keyed their messages on various aspects of how people lead people. I find that I am already getting my leadership fix for the year and recharging my tanks.
It was interesting to me how many of the leadership lessons were taken from the Bible. Of course, I have always maintained that the Bible is the greatest leadership book in existence and Jesus was the greatest leader who ever lived. But it is incredibly fulfilling to hear others extol the same qualities about the Scriptures. Back when I was in seminary, I actually created a course on biblical leadership as part of my doctoral work. And for many years, I conducted weekly meetings for people in career transition – focusing attention each week on stories from the Bible, usually involving leadership and career change for the people of God.
Throughout the years, I have learned that there is one particularly important thing to learn before you can be a great leader – and that is how to be a great follower. From the beginning of the interaction between Man and God, God has sought good followers. Noah built the ark at the command of God, Abram left his home at the age of 80, to follow God’s directive to “go” until God told him to stop and Moses, against his will, was asked by God to lead His people to the Promised Land.
Later, Samuel, Ruth, Esther, King David and many others were all called to be followers before they became leaders. Now I know that I am leaving scores of biblical leaders without mention here, but you get the idea I’m sure. And even Jesus, as a child, was a follower before he stepped out in his ministry to do the will of His Father. By the way, even then, Jesus was a great follower while becoming a great leader in His own earthly right. The big thing about Jesus is that with Him, everything was different that it was with other leaders.
Most leaders found themselves elevated so that they didn’t have to do the “dirty work” any more. But Jesus made it quite clear that in His kingdom, in order to be first, you had to serve everyone else. In seminary we called this the “upside down kingdom.” So many things that Jesus taught are simple concepts that we, as humans, tend to forget and need to be reminded of time and time again. The verse for this evening is from Mark 9:35, “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Notice that Jesus said the “very last” – after everyone else. That’s a tough one for those of us who lead others.
My encouragement this evening is to affirm that Jesus wants you to lead the same way he lead – and that means to serve everyone you lead. My prayer is that you will continue to read the Bible and discover the leadership lessons buried within its pages. Because everyone wins when a leader leads better. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…