The Big Picture of Leadership S2: Jesus' Number One Leadership Principle

Session 2: There are a zillion books on leadership in print today. It seems everyone has a different concept of what leadership is or should be. In an effort to bring some simplicity and clarity to the topic, I’m sharing with you the one single thing that seemed to be the greatest leadership principle Jesus ever exampled.





First of all, let’s establish a definition. In its most simple form, what in the world is “leadership?” John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence. That’s it.” James C. Georges says, “Leadership is the ability to obtain followers.” Aubrey Malphurs says, “Christian leadership is the process whereby servants use their credibility and capability to influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.” Summed up, it goes back to what John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence.”


Despite what many people may think, leadership is not a position. Just because you're a pastor, student pastor, department leader, or the holder of any other position, that does not make you an effective leader. You may be a leader in title, but effective leadership is influence. Influence is gained through consistency over the process of time. Being influential is not something anyone can just give you. Nor is it something you can randomly become. As much as I would love to give everyone influence, I can’t. I may be able to speak up for you. I may be able to show others that I believe in you. Eventually, though it always circles back around to the influence you produce, the influence you have cultivated on your own interacting with others.


Have you ever heard of a mantle of anointing? In the church world, we hear that phrase occasionally. Someone dies or steps aside from ministry in some way and reference will be made to the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha. We will say, “His mantle fell on . . .” There may well be a mantle of anointing. However, there can be no mantle of influence. Influence cannot be handed down nor can it be imparted or given to you. You may be assigned a position, yet influence must be earned by your credibility and your growth over a period of time.


Some individuals are born with a natural ability to lead. Some people have a higher leadership energy than others. That’s great if you have that! However, leadership is not just for those born with natural ability. The traits that make a good leader or a good influencer can be learned and, in actuality, can and must be developed over time with consistency and intentionality. For me, I think that’s great news!


Think about this . . . Even if a person is more gifted in leadership than someone else, the thing that makes a person rise above the rest is still the exact same thing:


A good leader, or a good influencer . . . possessing natural talent or not must still learn and develop over time.


Matthew 20:25-28 says:

“25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”


Jesus, who is our perfect example of an influencer, the greatest example of what a leader is and should be: 1) came to minister, 2) came to serve, and 3) came to give His life for many.


If you think about it, Jesus’ concept of leading and life in general is really a bit opposite of what our society says leadership and life are about. Scripture is full of opposites. It says the Kingdom of God is a place where the first are last and the last are first. It's a place where the poor are rich. It’s a place where the foolish are wise. It’s a place where the weak are strong. It’s a place that death and failure lead to victory. That’s the Kingdom of God and as we look to be leaders in the Kingdom of God . . . just think about these concepts and principles found in the Word of God.


Moses was filled with divine power and wisdom, as long as he questioned his own ability. When pride and arrogance and a sense of his own self-importance started sneaking in, that’s when he made his life’s biggest mistakes. Look at Gideon, Saul, Elijah, and Jeremiah . . . they were all in the same boat. Men who were called of God to be leaders who each one had issues and tough things to overcome within themselves. There were risks and anxieties that came their way. No doubt, there were some sleepless nights, some things to be endured, not for personal gain, but for someone else’s gain. That’s true church leadership.


A true leader realizes genuine, biblical leadership is a matter of service and self-sacrifice to gain influence. A true leader also knows that in itself is not always easy.


So, what’s the big picture here?


Here’s what I want you to understand – what you need to “get” from this blog. We cannot seek leadership, especially church leadership because you want a position, or you think it will bring you some level of power, or because it just sounds somehow exciting. If God calls you to lay down your life to serve and influence others, be ready to place yourself at His feet. Be ready to do it with an attitude of submission and sacrifice, with fear and trembling, because that is true leadership.


Church leaders gain influence by giving of themselves to others. Jesus showed us this principle, so eloquently described in Philippians 2:7-8, when Paul wrote that He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” That is the big picture of leadership, exampled by Jesus Christ. Humility . . . service . . . self-sacrifice . . . These things lead to true influence. That level of influence then leads to effective leadership . . . to making a huge impact in the Kingdom of God.


That’s the big picture of leadership.


I leave you with this challenge to ponder today. Even in the midst of service to the kingdom of God, how can you be more strategic to serve with humility . . . to increase your influence . . . to become a true leader?


Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.