If we view the best in Christian leadership as a one-size-fits-all shoe, what type and size shoe would it be?
I was once in need of shoes to hike up a mountain in southern Asia. The hike would be long, steep, rainy, muddy, and slippery. All I had were dress shoes. In the “village” of a few hundred thousand people near the base of a mountain, I found a shoe store. Pair after pair proved too small. Each was the same size no matter what the label on the box said. Finally, a helpful shopkeeper found a solution. He said, “Here, this one is small on the outside but very big on the inside.” It was a nice try.
I scaled the mountain in my dress shoes.
So, what about the best shoe size for Christian leadership? Can it be a one size fits all? What style of leadership did Jesus use?
Let’s take a quick look. Here are some examples of how Jesus led his closest followers:
He picked his team — and yet said: “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.”
At times Jesus taught the disciples gently — at other times, he was not gentle.
Jesus had an inner circle — he also had an outer one.
He went first — at other times he sent his disciples on ahead.
He let his disciples succeed — but sometimes fail.
Jesus taught them not to worry about troubles of tomorrow — but said it’s OK to worry about today.
He could speak harshly with his disciples — but with children, he was always tender.
He was patient with his team — but sometimes he was indignant.
Jesus inspired confidence and immediate action — yet sometimes he commanded them to wait.
Led by group prayer — but sometimes led by the example that prayer was also private
Jesus cursed a plant — but he taught to bless one’s enemies
He wept over the city that did not recognize his coming — but then tore apart a marketplace attached to the temple and rebuked those same people over whom he had wept.
What can we make of the leadership style shoe that Jesus wore? Well, that depends. Sometimes the shoe he displayed was determinedby the situation and the people he was intent on leading.
So, not every style of leadership fits every occasion. And yetJesus wore predictable shoes we should aspire to try on and wear for our everyday shoes.
So let’s take a quick look at the everyday shoes of leadership that Jesus wore.
Jesus led by:
Being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Choosing his team carefully.
Casting a vision for them his Father gave.
Working closely with his team.
Mentoring his closest followers.
Challenging his disciples to do more than they could on their own.
Pushing his team out of their comfort zone.
Inspiring trust, confidence, and enthusiasm.
Motivating his people with the things of God.
Giving his team enough time to get it right.
Giving his team room to fail.
Showing personal actions in sync with his words.
Being tender with the non-religious.
Being hard on those who worked to be religious.
Showing tenderness to little children.
Motivating by warnings.
Motivating by promises.
Leading with an inner circle
Living with his team — day and night.
Explaining deep things in plain language to his closest followers.
Providing for his followers.
Being faithful to pay his taxes.
Leading with groupprayer.
Leading with private prayer, alone with God.
Relating the eternal consequences of today’s action to eternity.
Casting a long-range vision.
Challenging his disciples to use their gifts.
Purity in speech, heart, and deed.
Forgiving those who persecuted him.
Welcoming the lowest and highest classes of people with no discrimination.
Not focusing on the politics of this world.
How he approached mealtime.
Speaking the truth in love to friends and strangers.
Being bold in speaking to power.
Being sorrowfulat hearing difficult news.
Calling people to love as he loved.
Understanding the times.
Teaching to work hard knowing the brevity of life.
Understanding who his real followers were.
Knowing who his traitors would be.
Putting faith in the message given by the Father.
Demanding that his disciples give all they had to follow Jesus’ unrivaled leadership.
Not being afraid to make enemies over speaking the truth.
Never breaking the Bible’s moral precepts.
Being a priest, prophet, and king.
Escaping trouble when needed.
Protecting his followers.
By warning his followers of the consequences of walking against the tide of this world.
Training and commissioning his team to proceed without him.
Alwaysstrong and compassionate.
Jesus helps his finest leaders today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to wear the shoes of leadership he wore. They do not fit tight. The shoes of leadership that Jesus gives us affords plenty of room to move.
Now that’s something to celebrate!