Jesus on Leading: Inward, not Upward-Guest Post by Gina Butz

Beginning with an earlier post about Authentic Leadership, or Taking our Cues on Leading from Jesus, I am doing a series of posts about some of the heart qualities of leadership that Jesus exhibited and exhorted us to.  Today’s post is from Gina Butz, who has several years of experience as a LEAF (Leadership Evaluation and Formation) coach. 

We cannot lead people to a place we do not know.The world tells us that, to be leaders, we must gain experience, strengthen our skills, expand our influence, perform well. Leadership is about power, success, reputation.Then I look at Jesus, and everything seems backward. The first will be last. The meek will inherit. Blessed are the poor in spirit. The king is a servant. We die to gain.

When I look at Jesus, I make this conclusion: Leadership is not a journey upward, but a journey inward.In my early years on staff, I moved easily into leadership roles. They came naturally. God made me a high energy, high capacity, high performance person and that served me well.

Until it didn’t. Until I was exhausted trying to keep up this image of someone who was doing the work, making it happen, leading by example. Outwardly, I looked like I had it together. Inwardly, I was desperate for another way to live.

God used a week of intensive leadership coaching to give me a vision for that new way. It wasn’t what I expected. Instead of showing me how to maximize my time, how to produce more and keep up my performance, He showed me how the very things I was relying on to save me were the prison that kept me from relying on Him.He called me to words like rest, freedom, authenticity, childlikeness, beloved, vulnerable, undone. It all seemed pretty backward to me. How will these things help me move up in the world.They don’t move me up. They move me closer.

To be Christ-like leaders, we must be willing to go inward with Him, to let His light shine on our depravity, to let Him free us from our idols, to lead us to see our deep need and grow in dependence on Him, to rest in the place where we are defined by His love alone.It is easy, in leadership, to believe we must become bigger, stronger, more powerful. In reality, we must become smaller, more dependent, more in touch with our humanity. This is the backward kingdom Jesus proclaimed. We must become like Him, who in coming to us set the example in becoming smaller, dependent, human.

His leadership was backward; not upward but inward. It came from a true and deep connection and dependence on the Father who loved Him. It was this kind of leadership that changed the world.

What about you? Where are you learning that it is inward, not upward?

Gina and her husband, Erik, have served with Cru for more than 15 years, 13 of which were spent overseas. They recently returned to the U.S. with their two kids, and serve now with Global Leadership. Gina enjoys writing, speaking, and coaching other women, particularly in issues surrounding transition and living wholeheartedly.  You will love her blog, The View from Here.  Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ginabrennabutz.