29 March 2015 by Adeline Lum CM –
A great leader is marked not by how many people are following him or her, but how many leaders are raised and left behind.
Rev Miles Toulmin of HTBB shared about 7 leadership principles that we can exemplify from the greatest servant-leader Jesus, in a one-day worship conference held on 21st of March by the Worship Central of Malaysia at the Alpha Hub, Rooftop of Lot 10.
Principle #1: Jesus focused on developing heroic followers not great leaders
Great leaders are courageous followers who have an immovable and unshakeable sense of identity in Christ amidst trials, tribulations, and great victories.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt 4:19) He was focusing on followship, not leadership.
And when we follow Jesus, whether we are entrusted with a task – big or small – we have a heart of wanting to follow God like David.
When David won the war against the Philistines, the women of the nation gathered to the streets and sung of his great victories. They proclaimed him king over the nation to ‘shepherd’ the people. Yet, his most famous words (Psalm 23) were ‘The LORD is my shepherd.’ He was heroic in faithfully following God throughout his life from a shepherd to a soldier and finally a king. Even after his later failings, he was called “a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22)
Hence, a great leader is a follower of followers of Christ, instead of a leader of leaders. To be a good leader, one needs to first be a good follower of Christ.
Principle #2: Jesus was highly selective in choosing His followers
Before Jesus chose his disciples, He went to the mountainside and prayed overnight to God. (Luke 6:12-13) He took the selection of His disciples seriously, and He was selective of the people He wanted to develop.
In fact, He did not spread His time evenly with all the disciples. As leaders, we may feel guilty in spending our time unevenly with everyone. But due to our limited time and capacity, developing a selected number of people is more effective than trying to develop everyone within a period of time.
How did Jesus choose his disciples? He watched them, he prayed about and for them, and He chose those who were ready for immediate deployment. When Jesus approached His disciples, the disciples immediately left everything and followed Him. All of them have one thing in common: their heart is willing and they are ready for immediate deployment.
Hence, as leaders, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes and watch for characteristics of a good follower.
Principle #3: Jesus developed people in the context of a purposeful team
In building a purposeful team, Jesus had a balance of participation, observation, and reflection.
There are five coaching steps in leading people. As leaders, the first step is I do, you watch, and we talk. The second step is I do, you help, and we talk. The third step is you do, I help, and we talk. The fourth step is you do, I watch, and we talk. Many people stop on the fourth step. But the fifth step is the vital step, which takes us to the model of multiplication. In the fifth step, you do, someone else watches, and you talk with them.
Rather than completing a task, the primary role of a leader is to raise leaders. And the most effective way of raising a leader is completing a task or project together as a team. This is because working in a team can quickly reveal a person’s character, rather than a two-hour weekly coaching meeting.
Principle #4: Jesus delegated responsibility and authority, not just a task.
Interestingly, Jesus immediately delegated the responsibility and authority to His disciples when He called them together. After choosing them, He gave them the power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, proclaim the kingdom of God, and heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)
Evangelist Billy Graham said, “Yet the principle is clear: to grow and be stretched, the leaders of tomorrow must be given significant responsibilities today.”
We may be good in giving tasks to people but we can have a hard time delegating responsibility and authority, because delegation is all about reading someone’s heart – whether the person is willing to learn and be humble – and finding the right timing.
A good leader also gives space for people they want to develop to fail. In fact, failure is not an option but a necessity in developing people.
There are three caveats in failing. If you are going to fail learn to fail fast, make sure there is a feedback loop to learn from the failure, and finally, never fail below the line of irretrievable and severe consequences. In other words, do not fail so badly that you cause a hole in the ship to sink.
Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said about failure, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Principle #5: Jesus gave more attention to the issues of character and vision than structures and strategy
General Norman Schwarzkopf who commanded the Operation Desert Storm once said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”
Jesus knew character and vision form the structure and strategy, not the other way round. If His disciples were developing a heart of servitude with an understanding of the Kingdom’s vision, gospel ministry will happen.
In fact, we can see that Jesus rarely spared the blushes of His disciples when their character and vision are flawed. And when noticing the flaws, Jesus often took the opportunity to correct His disciples in a memorable way for everyone to learn from.
For example, when Peter rebuked Jesus for going to the cross, He said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” (Matt 16:23) Noticing that other disciples were nearby, Jesus knew that they had the same flawed understanding about the Kingdom like Peter. They expected Jesus to gain political power over the Romans and become their king through forceful victory. But this understanding is far from God’s intention for the Kingdom. Realizing their thoughts, Jesus took this opportunity to explain the vision of the Kingdom not only to Peter but also to all the disciples, creating a memorable teaching.
Principle #6: Jesus created a climate that was friendly, open, and enquiring.
Yes, Jesus asked 307 questions and was asked 183 questions! This shows how the Christian faith has always welcomed questions.
But developing people requires a delicate balance between the issues of candor with obedience. And questions can encourage candor and uncover significant ideas, which build trust over time.
The only dumb questions are the questions not asked. Indeed, leadership guru Patrick Lencioni shared that the key measure of a good meeting is that there are no meetings after the meeting. In other words, all doubts are cleared and all questions are answered in the meeting itself. But this is only possible if the level of trust in the team is high.
In relationship, the trust bucket fills up the slowest and unfortunately empties the fastest. Often than not, it is the little incidences that are overlooked and unaddressed over time that erode trust.
For example, say you are a referee. If you see a player kicking another, you should call a foul. Likewise, do not be afraid to rebuke and correct the people you develop to steer them into the right direction. Another way to build trust is to eat together. That is why Jesus spent a lot of time dining with His disciples.
Principle #7: Anticipate future crisis and contemplate future glory
“Why are some leaders better equipped to deal with crises than others? Even when hit by totally unpredictable events, why do some leaders do a better job of responding? The answer is because they anticipate crises,” said Warren Bennis, another notable leadership guru.
Good leaders not only prepare themselves for a crisis, but they also prepare the people they are developing for the crisis.
That is why Jesus always talked to His disciples about the challenges that lay ahead. Jesus said to them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt 10:16)
But while we prepare them for crisis, we must also outweigh this with preparing them for the future glory that is to come. Jesus spoke about the final destination of every follower, through the imagery of the great feast and the great wedding. He gave His disciples, and us, a reason to hope that far outweigh the present troubles.
And here are the 7 leadership principles taught by Jesus and shared by Rev Miles Toulmin who owes much of his wisdom to the wonderful Bishop Paul Williams, whose generous teachings, are not forgotten but perpetuated.
| Share the Good News |