When evaluating what a leader is, it is important to look at the life of the greatest leader of all time. His name is Jesus! It is also important, when evaluating a leader, to consider what it means to follow. So putting these two thoughts together - how does a leader exemplify strong and authentic leadership as a follower of Jesus Christ?
First, let’s recognize Jesus as a follower. I know it sounds strange to refer to Jesus as a follower, but it is true. Jesus followed His Father’s instructions by obediently and humbly laying down His life as a ransom for many. He followed the lead of the Holy Spirit in everything that He did here on earth, for example, like being led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God. Jesus said that He only speaks what His Father speaks and He only does what His Father does. These are all indicators that Jesus was not only a great leader but also a great follower.
Second, Jesus leads us by following the will of His Father and so should we lead others by following Jesus. Paul made a comment about this when he encouraged people to follow him as he followed the Lord. Jesus leads us in humility, submission, faithfulness, character, integrity, service and in so many other ways.
So just exactly how should we as Christians (and therefore leaders) live as followers of Jesus? Here are a few ways that we can follow faithfully and fruitfully:
- Wake every morning and immediately acknowledge that Christ Jesus is Lord and without Him this new day would not be possible! Acknowledge Him, praise Him and show gratitude for another day of life surrendered to Him as your King.
- Acknowledge that you can do nothing this day without Him and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Declare your trust in God and your devotion to His word in your life for this day and all others. It is not by your might or by your power but by the Spirit of the living God!
- Decide to put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Determine that you will resist the devil so that he flees from you and humble yourself before God.
- Throughout your day, listen for the voice of God through His Word by the Spirit and do as God instructs. As Jesus modeled for us, do as God does and speak as God speaks. Find your satisfaction in moment by moment obedience to the will of God.
- Let God deal with the obstacles, difficulties, crises and challenges that you face. Do not take matters into your own hands but trust the Lord in all things whether it is in your family, in the workplace, church or community.
- Stop at different times throughout the day and reevaluate your commitment to God. Take inventory and refresh yourself in the Lord as you move further into your day. Live in repentance and be ready to to deal with wrongdoing in your own life as it happens. Like Jesus, come out of the wilderness (your day in the world) in the power of the Spirit.
- Conclude your day with praise, gratitude, and thanksgiving to God for how He worked His power, glory, lovingkindness and faithfulness in your life during the day.
These are just some of the practical things we can do to follow Jesus. There may be other things that could be added to this list. But I have found that when (at a minimum) these things are practiced, God gives us everything we need to not only follow Christ but to lead others effectively.
May God grant us the grace we need to display His marvelous glory in everything we do! May we operate in the strength of His Spirit rather than our own strength so that we may lead others into the richness of the good life that only our Creator can give.