As we consider our highest calling as Christian leaders -- imitating Jesus Christ -- it is a challenging question to ask how can we be like Jesus. Was he not fully God? Yes, he was (and is), but he was (and is) also fully human. So we can focus on some human traits, filled with divinity, and gain a clearer picture of mature leadership.
1. Jesus had an unwavering purpose that could not be diluted by enemies or friends.
2. Jesus had a spirit of service that minimized power-differentials.
3. Jesus was attentive to those who interrupted him, so he could assure ministry availability.
4. Jesus lived at a depth of grace and forgiveness that doesn’t make sense to our selfish emotions.
5. Jesus understood the proper use of his gifts, worked in community, and most often taught through mentoring.
6. Jesus made prayer a priority, so he could have the inner strength to live genuinely.
7. Jesus operated with a schedule that was based on eternity rather than on a to-do list.
8. Jesus was grounded in the bedrock of unchanging Godly truth that equipped him to engage the culture with boldness.
9. Jesus was a student of the scripture because He knew it really was the word of God.
10. Jesus was eternally focused. For him, the unseen spiritual world was as absolutely assured as the visible human world.
In summary, Jesus spent time building inner strength so that outwardly he could reveal the nature of God through what He did.
Everything Jesus did reflected the nature of God -- from the work He did alongside Joseph as a carpenter’s apprentice to preaching the Sermon on the Mount. From conversation over a meal, to struggling with fatigue from the business of a day, to the way he developed relationships -- it was all about showing others who God is.
Jesus was so grounded in his purpose and calling that he could be confident facing an attack, preaching before thousands, or mentoring one Samaritan woman while stopping for a drink. The confidence of Christ wasn’t found in the launching of a multistep master plan to accomplish predetermined objectives. Instead, he lived with the single goal to reveal the nature of God to others, and because he did so, most of the significant ministry moments of Jesus came to him.
He was available when the sick came . . . or the critics . . . or the intellectuals . . . or the rich . . . or the poor . . . or the church leaders … or the worst sinners. His confidence of calling assured availability. Studying the daily life of Jesus, we see that most of the people he reached came first as interruptions. But his confidence of calling was the trigger to know that interruptions were not to be dismissed; rather, they would be his most important moments of ministry.
Jesus lived in this world just as we do, but his focus was toward another place. He had a perspective that allowed him to understand what the new heaven and new earth would be, and so his focus was eternal, not earthly. He had been there and would return there, so he had assurance of something that takes lots more trust on our part to grasp. Jesus worked on this earth completely focused toward heaven because he knew it was as genuine as the ground he walked in Galilee. He prayed to his Father like we would call a loved one to talk about coming home soon from a long trip. To Jesus, heaven and earth were so linked there was no question about heaven’s reality.
This leadership pattern Jesus models that every outward action must grow from an inward spiritual strength. We can’t hope to be leaders who reach out, revealing the nature of God, without reaching equally deep, assuring the indwelling of God in our heart, soul, and mind.
Roger Parrott is President of Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders (David C. Cook).