There is a real void of good leadership in our nation and world at this present time. In fact, I believe that the current leadership of the United States might be the worst in our history–with some of our key national leaders being either radical, egotistical, immoral, corrupt, deceptive, patronizing, not listening to their constituents–or in a phrase–devoid of godly character.
This is one reason why there is such fear, reaction, and distrust among the people as we enter the fall of 2009. We desperately need leaders with faith, wisdom, humility, skill, and insight to guide us through these perilous times.
There is no greater example in all the world of good and effective leadership than that of Jesus Christ. Twenty years I wrote a book on servant leadership, Leadership for the 21st Century: Changing Nations Through the Power of Serving, which concluded with a section by William MacDonald that described what made Jesus the greatest leader that ever walked the earth. It contains the most succinct principles of wise leadership I have ever heard or read.
I share them with you today to apply in your own life, to look and pray for in leaders that we need in America, and to point you to the Greatest Leader of all time who also invites you to follow Him.
Jesus – The Greatest Leader of Men
By William MacDonald
1. Jesus clearly envisioned the destination to which he was leading his people–the kingdom of God. The first principle of his leadership was that he knew precisely where he would lead the faithful and how to get there. Reversals and mid-course corrections were unnecessary under his leadership (Luke 9:51, 22:15,16).
2. Jesus led without forcing his values on anyone or coercing anyone into following. That is, he never drafted anyone in violation of individual autonomy. Much prayer preceded the call of those who would be his closest colleagues in ministry (Luke 6:12,13).
3. Jesus was not obsessed with gaining the psychological power of great numbers of warm bodies. Volunteers who would not pay the price of total commitment were turned away rather than being signed up on their own terms (Luke 9:57-62).
4. Jesus won the hearts of his followers by leading through friendship rather than fear. He shared with them his secrets and his strategy as rapidly as they could benefit from and implement them (Luke 18:26-30).
5. Jesus had no reason to hide his human finitude by impressive staging. Instead of barricading himself in inaccessibility (behind walls and many subordinates), he ate and slept with the troops, leaving them only for quiet times alone with his Father. Even little children had access to him (Luke 18:15-17).
6. Jesus was unafraid as all great leaders must be. The visible faces of clay could neither intimidate nor dissuade him from his objectives. Nor could the invisible powers of darkness deter him from accomplishing his mission (Luke 13:31-35).
7. Jesus never compromised his moral integrity in order to accomplish his objectives of his revolution. He operated above demeaning dirty tricks, back-door gifts, assassinations, rash unredeemable promises, or even flattery (Luke 11:52-54).
8. Jesus was patently selfless in his motives of leadership. He sought to bring believers to the depth of experience with his Father that he already enjoyed (Luke 10:22).
9. Instead of providing distracting entertainment for people to enable them to forget momentarily their confusion, guilt,suffering, loneliness, and unmet needs, Jesus provided solutions, corrections, and resources to meet those basic needs. The result for believers was lasting foundation for joy (Luke 4:40-44, 9:37-43).
10. Jesus did not squander nature and its resources; he took control as Adam was told to do, taking “dominion” without wasting or polluting, in order to utilize nature to bless and help humanity (Luke 9:17).
11. Jesus, a forceful public speaker, could hold the attention of large gatherings without taking advantage of people. His speech was spiced with colorful, unforgettable sayings and illustrations. When facing large crowds, he did not become superheated and tyrannical. There were no harangues, but always with them there was a deepening of his compassion. He gave clear and simple directions for finding one’s way into the kingdom of God (Luke 5:1, 8:4-15, 13:22-30).
12. Jesus was appropriately tough or tender in dealing with everyone and every crisis. He gained the respect and loyalty of men and women alike. His leadership style of personal relationships fit the situation with just the right amount of pressure being exerted in every case.
13. Jesus never “plead poverty” for the kingdom of God, “took” offerings by psychological jerks, or extracted monies legalistically from the reluctant. But likewise he never did refuse people the privilege of giving who offered their gifts prompted by love (Luke 8:1-3).
14. Jesus’ genuine wholesomeness was that of a man who was sure of himself. This made it possible for people to confidently put their faith in him and to gladly follow him. His winsomeness consisted of a perfect balance between self assurance and affability (Luke 6:20-49).
15. Jesus was the concrete expression of what he taught (Luke 6:20-49). If one could not clearly understand where he was leading by what he was saying, he could find the same truths expressed and reinforced in Jesus’ whole demeanor and activities. Those who were not abstract thinkers (four out of ten) could see the truth unfurled in his unforgettable actions and lifestyle (Luke 23:47).
16. Jesus was able to lead effectively and with full respect without the advantages of special identifying clothing and insignia that are universally recognized as symbols of authority. Royalty, the priesthood (Exodus 28:2), and the military must all step down to this leader dressed in ordinary clothes (and a special anointing) whose presence commanded respect wherever he was (Luke 4:18-22).
17. In decision-making, Jesus was neither indecisive nor rash. Prayerfulness was the fulcrum of his administration. Hence,the kingdom of God was never held back for want of resolute action, nor did it lurch forward on opportunistic whims and crash programs (Luke 6:12-16).
18. The power that Jesus tapped was not that whose source was in individuals; rather it was the power given him by God. This made it possible for him always to have something valuable to give freely to the people who followed him. Most worldly leaders aggrandize power by first taking it from people, abrogating some of their rights and confiscating certain of their resources; and later in a display of paternalism they return some of what was previously taken. Jesus did not need to do that for he depended heavily on divine resources to found the kingdom of God (Luke 3:22; cf. Acts 10:38).
19. Jesus was consistently resolute in that he followed through to the end with his goals for the kingdom. He would not surrender his aims for lesser ones when the going become difficult and his leadership was misunderstood. Thus he never backed off from the full-time responsibility of leadership (Luke 2:45-51).
20. Jesus knew well his followers and dealt with each one appropriately–not using the same patterns of assignment and expectation with such diverse men as Peter and John. He cultivated the development of the two talent man and one twice as talented by giving each the proper resources and relationship in which to develop (John 21:17-22).
21. Jesus knew how to pace both himself and the revolution, sensing when to advance and when to withdraw from the crowds of people, when to refuel, and when to face up to his most trying hours. In the words of the Old Testament, he knew when and how “to go in and out among the people,” and as a result his timing was never off (Luke 9:18-27, 19:28).
22. Jesus’ settled concept of his own identity and of the one who sent him made his leadership rise above popularity. Therefore, he was psychologically impervious to popular praise of himself–it did not inflate him–and to negative criticism of himself–it did not deflate him. Knowing at all times what the Father thought of him gave great evenness and steadiness to his leadership (Luke. 4:22,28,29 19:37-41).
23. Jesus had a uniquely positive revolutionary methodology (John 18:36):
- not arms, but faith, hope and love.
- not explosives, but mountain-moving faith.
- not sabotage of the enemy, but doing good to those hating you.
- not fear, but the love that crowds out all fear.
- not crowd-pleasing propaganda, but the truth.
- not firing squads, but raising the dead.
- not deceit and intrigue, but parables, proverbs and enigmas.
24. Jesus accomplished his revolution without dependence on the power structures of the world. He operated without any of the following standard foundations for kingdoms (Luke 29:1-8, 19-26):
- institutional backing
- political machines and party affiliation
- government support or anti-government patriotism
- class struggle exploitation–playing on desires for upward mobility.
25. Jesus met all of mankind’s deepest needs–those that only the Creator and Savior of man can supply. Consequently, he is the only leader of all time that when the deepest gratitude of followers wells up, and admiration calls for praise and exultation, it is not wrong to actually worship this leader as LORD AND GOD (Luke 24:52).