In our last discussion on the Leadership Qualities of a Disciple Maker, we recognized the special mission entrusted by Christ to every believer: to go and make disciples. We also established that a key contributing factor to the Lord’s success in spreading the gospel was the way he applied his leadership style in making disciples. A style that, as we will see, clearly surpasses conventional leadership.
Whereas conventional leadership is manifested in such traits as dominance, boldness, confidence, and charisma, Godly leadership finds its roots in servanthood, humility, submission, compassion, faith and love.
Godly leadership goes much beyond the basic attributes of conventional leadership.
As we observe Christ, our perfect example, we immediately recognize this fundamental distinction.
To fully understand Christ’s perfection in everything He did would require a lifetime. However, by looking at a few examples of how He applied His leadership in the development of His disciples we can get insights in His method of discipleship.
1. He led by example.
First and foremost, everything the Lord asked his disciples to do he did Himself (and more). By His example, Jesus led with integrity. Good followers imitate their leaders; as we work with others to help them grow, we ought to be good examples by being imitators of Christ.
For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
- John 13:15 KJV
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
- Hebrews 13:7 ESV
2. He had a simple plan.
Jesus cast a vision, with clarity, simplicity, and directness. Straightaway, He began his ministry in Galilee preaching a simple message, saying,
…the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
- Mark 1:15 NKJV
One of the most powerful components of Jesus’ ministry was his ability to be simple, clear and direct. This was shown in his preaching and teaching. His ability to tell a truth through a simple life example was the foundation of all he did. His plan is laid before us – there is no need to change it. God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen every one of his sons for a given purpose knowing that, in all simplicity, we too can teach truths through unique life examples.
3. He had a servant spirit.
Jesus practiced servant leadership better than anyone. He taught his disciples that whoever wants to be a leader shall be the servant of all. When a man truly sees himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, he will take up the towel and basin as Jesus did (John 13:1-17), and serve others out of love. If the King of kings was willing to wash the feet of His followers, so should we.
“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”
- Mark 10:44 KJV
4. He had a humble spirit.
Jesus described Himself as gentle and humble in heart. In humility, He met people where they were. He met their immediate needs. A humble person is continually aware that all that he is stems from God’s grace. His confidence is not in himself, but in the Lord, so that he is quick to give the glory to God in every situation. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). There is a big difference between placing our confidence in Christ rather than in ourselves. A godly leader depends on Christ and is quick to share his own weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:5-10). In disciple making the only way to make a real difference is to do so humbly, without regard for recognition, ego, pride, even self-preservation. Again, Christ is our ultimate example of this kind of humility.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
- Matthew 11:29 KJV
5. He had a submissive spirit.
The Kingdom of God is built on a submissive attitude towards the throne of God. So even in Jesus’ kingship, the powerful element was that, in his submissive attitude, he had an authority that had been given him from above. As we look at Him, we clearly see a submissive person (Hebrews 10:5-7). The submissive spirit that characterizes the true sons of the Kingdom will be seen in a desire to be honoring and to respond willingly to the authority that God has instituted.
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
- John 5:19 NKJV
“Then I said, Behold, I have come…To do Your will, O God.”
- Hebrews 10:7
These five traits are but a few that barely begin to describe our Lord’s leadership attributes.
What could be said of his love for his Father and for the brethren, his prayer life, his forgiving heart, his self-discipline, and other such qualities that we ought to also cultivate. Truly, if we could master just one or two, our disciple-making ability would increase manifold.
In Leadership Qualities of a Disciple Maker (Part 3), we will look at two special characteristics that were indispensable in our Lord’s disciple-making plan – Being Intentional and Relational.