It was difficult not to choose Love for this page in the Good News Dictionary; that quality is so central in the life of Jesus. But because so many other articles speak to that central attribute I have decided on Leadership. What does the good news story tell us about Jesus as leader? Certainly he doesn’t exemplify many of the gifts and abilities that are said to be important for a leader in today’s society. For instance, a recent article cites confidence, innovation, stoicism, wonkiness, positivity, and restlessness among the “22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader,” but somehow those seem to be somewhat missing in the life of Jesus. Then how can we consider leadership an important aspect of his life and ministry? The answer lies in our definition of leadership.
I once read that a leader is simply anyone who is followed by others. While that is true it doesn’t define the attribute. Why do people follow the pied piper and where is he going? I believe that in Christian circles there are a great number of people following some “leader” who may be taking them in the wrong direction. Authentic leaders know where they are going and would continue toward that goal even though very few were following them. In an immediate sense Jesus was that kind of a leader. Should his crowd numbers drop off he would not have an executive meeting with the disciples to decide on a more effective way to get people to show up every afternoon for the teaching session that preceded the healing.
When current leaders write of leadership you will find they emphasize those communication skills that have proven themselves in the commercial market. A presentation that informs and heightens desire for the product is said to work best. Jesus offers forgiveness, satisfaction, and hope for the future but the case doesn’t depend on his skill of delivery. People follow Jesus because in him they find authenticity. The goal is not immediate crowd size, but fidelity to the essential message. At the time of his death there were 11 disciples plus a few close friends who were his followers. Today there are more than two billion Christians in the world. He was, and is, a leader not because he was a hip spokesman but an authentic guide. History argues the truthfulness of his claims by the beneficial results that accompany him throughout time. Education, hospitals plus so many other philanthropic endeavors have followed the expansion of his cause. They would have never been had it not been for the leadership skill of the humble Jesus.