“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds” -Proverbs 27:23
If you have just read the title of this blog and are thinking “Well, duh!” you are most likely in good company. Grab your cold brew, and let’s dissect this thought together.
Jesus lead 12 men. Yes, He had other followers, but these 12 did life with Jesus. They witnessed Him seeking the Father’s heart, doing the miraculous and unthinkable, restoring hearts, mending brokenness, and saving souls. They heard Jesus speak of the cross, and what would come as a result. Jesus said to the 12 He led, “I have given you an example to follow” (John 13:15a).
Jesus did not just show the men how to walk through this life; He taught them how to lead people well. Jesus gives this statement we see in John 13 right after He very humbly washes the feet of all 12 disciples. Did you catch that? ALL. This included Judas, who would shortly betray Him. Jesus completes His thought in John 13:15 by commanding “Do as I have done to you.”
So what does this mean for us as present day leaders? Do we start every BASIC or other ministry meeting by washing the feet of all whom we disciple? Not necessarily, though I do recall one leader’s meeting where our BASIC advisor literally washed our feet. It was a beautiful reflection of God’s heart for us through this selfless, and humbling act of our advisor. We shared tears (and some laughs) knowing we were so deeply valued and loved by the one who led us each and every week. Although this acted as wonderful declaration of our advisor’s servant heart towards us, there were many other ways she regularly demonstrated this (Check out the diagram on the bottom for practical ideas!)
I love the way Jesus interacted with Peter. Peter, much like myself, had a terrible tendency of putting his foot in his mouth; saying things he should not, and making bold claims he could not live up to. Despite Peter’s imperfections, Jesus invested in Peter and called out his giftings and strengths (Luke 5). Peter was often invited to witness Jesus’ miracles (Mark 5:37 & Luke 8:51). Jesus never stopped pursuing Peter. He never stopped loving Peter, believing in him, or calling out his destiny. Jesus never compromised the truth with Peter, rather He held him accountable (Mark 8:33). Jesus taught Peter how to lead and left him with one final command “tend to my sheep” (John 1:15-17).
I believe this is the same command Jesus gives to us. We are gifted with the wonderful opportunity to lead others as Christ led the 12 then, and leads us today. As a team, we have our different missions or goals, events to plan, meetings to host, and many other obligations. Let us not get caught up in directing task-completers, but in leading people. These are people who will go on to influence a culture desperate for a God who would humble Himself in every way. Let us lead in such a way that those who follow us would, like Jesus said, go on to do even greater works than we have (John 14:12).
Practical Ways to Lead People:
I. Know who they are, not just what they can do
- Invite those you lead out for coffee, or to play basketball. Share a meal.
- This can be done individually and as a group.
- Get to know their interests, dreams, things they struggle with, and more of what makes them individuals.
Note: When individually building relationships, it is important that male leaders meet with other males, and female leaders meet with other females. This guards each other’s hearts as deeper relationships are built.
II. Show gratitude, respect, and humility.
- Those we lead often sacrifice much of their own time and resources, as well as hard work while serving in ministry. Gratitude for this can be shown in a variety of ways including cooking a meal for your leadership team, or simply saying “thank you.”
- Respect is huge! Consider the tone of your voice and things you say when speaking to those you lead.
- Although we desire to lead as Jesus did, we are far from perfect. Show humility by owning your mistakes, and asking for forgiveness.
III. Lead with a servant’s heart.