As a business coach and consultant with Transformational Leadership (TL), I have seen an array of leadership models in the marketplace. Simply, some work and some don’t. In this blog, we will look at how TL captures the essence of Jesus’ ministry from His role as servant leader, teacher and healer to the outworking of the Kingdom gospel through His disciples. In fact, TL identifies and explains how Jesus launched the largest movement of faith in history with a team of twelve.
TL teaches, “An organization can only rise to the level of its leaders.” In the example of Christ, the level we must rise to as Christ-followers is the highest of high! In light of this, as developing leaders ourselves, it’s imperative to look at the life of Jesus to see how the leadership started with an individual, moved on to others, through an organization, and to the ends of the earth.
Let’s take a look…
SERVANT & LEADER
Jesus gave the ultimate example of what it means to live out the gospel by serving and leading people (few and multitudes) to prepare for the Kingdom. When taking a deeper look at the example of Christ in the context of what lies beyond servant leadership, we see that the foundational identity of servant leader catalyzed a movement and pointed to something more.
Like all foundations, the identity of servant leader is meant to be built upon. Yet, when it came to leadership, Jesus didn’t even seek the support of the shepherds (religious leaders) of the day. Instead, He sought out people in the marketplace to build His ministry.
Looking at Jesus as only a servant leader can limit the scope of all He did during His years of ministry. As Christ prepared to transition from His brief time on earth, He implemented stages of transition that developed His team to succeed long after He had gone. In fact, we can see Jesus engaged in five distinctive stages of individual and team development that propelled the twelve disciples forward in their personal and organizational maturity.
LEADERSHIP BEGINS WITH ME
When Jesus was about twelve years old, He expressed an understanding of His life’s purpose.
And He said to them, “Why do you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”
As He grew, the book of Luke says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” He became the leader that would impact the world unlike any other before or after Him through transformational wisdom and a role in His Father’s business. As a result, He had favor, or good standing, with God and others. Simply, Jesus led from a place of personal transformation and identity.
FIVE STAGES OF LEADERSHIP
(1) The Safety Stage: Cast Vision
The first thing Jesus did was cast vision. He inspired others with visions and promises of heaven on earth. He also articulated the potential He saw in others. He then invited the disciples to join Him. At the invitation, they responded when their expectations were raised from being normal fishermen to becoming “fishers of men.”
In this first stage of leadership, trust began to develop between the leader casting vision and the followers deciding to join that leader in their vision. Jesus created a safe way for the disciples to discover more about the vision He was sharing and more about the man He would be to them. He simply said, “Come and see…”
(2) The Cohesive Stage: Teach & Train
Jesus modeled true leadership by teaching and training His followers. Beyond serving His disciples, Jesus taught them along with thousands of others. In Matthew 5, Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, one of His greatest teachings. In this teaching He delivered the blueprint for a blessed life with identity statements followed by destiny statements. In other words, beyond casing vision, Jesus made the vision personal and tangible to His team.
This stage involves team members understanding where they are going and what they uniquely bring to the vision that enables success. New knowledge is deposited where old paradigms are discarded; individual skills are developed; relationship skills are refined; and there is plenty of practice to make permanent.
(3) The Functional Responsibility Stage: Delegate & Empower
Once the vision was in place and the team was engaged, Jesus delegated and empowered His followers. In Mark 6 the disciples were sent out two by two. They were given specific instructions to execute. When they did, they returned with stories of successes and failures.
In the third phase, a leader delegates and empowers individuals and teams to take on full responsibility and mutual functionality. At this point in leadership development, individuals and teams should have the foundation necessary to move forward. What’s more, working in tandem with others on the same journey encourages and raises the level of success all around. As responsibility is exercised, the initiating vision becomes more and more clear as individuals and teams learn to work through conflict.
(4) The Relactional Stage: Empower & Let Go
It is significant to note that Jesus intentionally empowered His team at every level. He also let go. When we look at John 13-17, Jesus’ final meeting the disciples before His death, we see Him empowering them for the next phase of the journey. He promised the Holy Spirit would come to continue to carry out the vision and work through His people.
In this stage, individual relationships are so strong that real concerns can be addressed without threat. The leader trusts the team and the team trusts one another while working toward the same goals. Each person is fully committed to his or her own development and growth as well as selflessly caring for and building up the team.
(5) The Continuous Improvement Stage: Let Go & Evaluate
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus instructed “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In this final vision casting and commissioning, Jesus promises His eternal empowerment. In the same vein, He let’s go. Finally, He incites the disciples to evaluate through teaching and observing.
In the fifth stage, the Continuous Improvement Stage, the individual and organization pursues better thoughts and courses of action routinely. All members have been trained, equipped and given opportunities to practice and improve. In this final stage of leadership development, individuals and teams are secure in who they are, what they offer and confidently move forward believing there is always more.
LEADING INTO THE FUTURE
Jesus modeled these 5 stages in His brief time on earth and He set up a succession plan that insured continued success.
The early development of the church, as told in the book of Acts through the end of the New Testament, shows how the world was forever changed as a result of Jesus’ time here on earth.
The example of Christ offers us an opportunity to transform the way we lead. Starting with servant leadership and moving toward continuous improvement takes intentionality and teamwork. To evaluate where you are in the stage of your own development, ponder the following questions.
- Do you understand Jesus’ vision for humanity and what He did for us on the cross? Have you said yes to it?
- Are you open to knowing who you are in light of who Jesus says you are?
- Do you know your unique purpose on this earth? Have you been taught, trained and equipped for this good work?
- Are you comfortable with your successes and failures?
- Do you allow Jesus to give you course corrections?
- Are you experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised?
Julie Sies works with FSH Consulting and is a Certified Transformational Leadership Trainer, Consultant and Coach who lives in the Pacific Northwest. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concepts outlined in this article are from Transformational Leadership developed by Ford Taylor of FSH Consulting, LLC. 2016 All Rights Reserved.
Contributing writer, Lindsay Fleming.