Jesus on the Heart of a Leader


Recently I participated in the Christian Leadership Alliance conference on The Authentic Leader.

Some great leaders/teachers/speakers called us to lead out of authentic walks with God, in the reality of who we are and where we succeed and struggle.

I read a lot of blogs and occasional books talking about leadership.  One thing is clear:  Leadership culture and expectations have changed in recent decades.  Mostly, I think, in good ways.“Team,” “Collaborative” and “Shared” partner with “Leadership” now, as in Team Leadership. This growing synergic approach is a worthy goal, desired by many, but challenging for many as well.  Historical hierarchical approaches to leadership don’t change easily.  The concepts of “authority” and “boss” frequently continue to prevail, even in surprising places.  It’s difficult to change culture—whether in a nation, a company or an individual.Jesus has given us some real help though.

In my ongoing—over several years—study on what it means to be a true follower of Jesus, He has spoken directly and indirectly to what it means to lead like He would lead.  Consider these strong words from our Lord:

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Clearly, Jesus has his own standards for how a leader lives and leads.  As I have thought about these verses, and other qualities Jesus lived out and called us to follow him in, the Lord has impressed on me a number of characteristics that should be true of a Christ-like leader.  This is not an exhaustive list, but these seem to have high priority:









Of course there are skills needed to lead people and to guide an organization or ministry.  But these are “heart of a leader” kinds of qualities that reflect the one who is leading us to a world that needs and wants to see such leadership.

Over the next few months I hope to take each one of the qualities and describe them and relate them to real leadership life.  I am trusting that I will learn much more about how to follow Jesus in leading as He would lead.

What about you?  Which of these qualities do you think Jesus might want to see more of in your life? What others would you suggest?

C2013 Judy Douglass

Here are some posts on leadership to stimulate your thinking:

Nine Characteristics of Healthy Leaders/TJ Addington

Leadership Qualities of Nehemiah/ Brad Lomenick

Curiosity: Asking the Right Questions to Motivate, Manage, Lead/Claire Laughlin

The 8 Best/Worst Ideas for Leadership Growth Ever/Margaret Feinberg

Last to Know/Brian Virtue