In this article Nicky Gumbel looks at the role of a leader
Leadership is key. Leadership is about influence. It is key to government, businesses and the church. Everything rises or falls on leadership.
Jesus is undoubtedly the greatest leader of all time. With 2,300 billion followers today, no one has ever been more influential than Jesus.
Yet his model of leadership is radically different from the world’s (Mark 10:35–45). He says to his disciples in the context of leadership, ‘Not so with you’ (v.43).
What does Jesus’ model of leadership look like?
1. It is not about being served; it is about serving others.
Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all’ (vv.43–44). In the King James Version of the Bible the word ‘leader’ appears six times. The word ‘servant’ appears 900 times.
2. It is not about position; it is about example.
Jesus continued by saying, ‘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’ (v.45). These words of Jesus came after the disciples had been having an argument about who was going to be greatest – who would sit at his right hand, who would sit at his left hand. Jesus replied to them, ‘Not so with you’ (v.43). Don’t go after position, but lead by example.
Leadership is not about bossing people around. Eisenhower said, ‘You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.’
You do not need position to lead. Nelson Mandela led a nation from his prison cell. Martin Luther King said, ‘Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t need a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul saturated by love.’
Jesus had no position but he is the world’s greatest leader. Jesus’ act of giving his life as a ransom for many is the supreme demonstration of what it means to lead by example.
3. It is not about rivalry; it is about unity.
The disciples were competing with each other for fame, success and glory (vv.37–41). Jesus says to them, ‘Not so with you’ (v.43). The Kingdom of God is not about rivalry; it is about unity.
We are not rivals. We are in the same business. We are one body. We need to stop fighting one another. Truth matters, of course, but if we do not have unity, we do not have the whole truth because Jesus is the truth. The more united the church is, the more we will understand together the truth that is in Jesus.
4. It is not about power; it is about being visionary.
Jesus said, ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (v.45). There was nothing weak or small scale about Jesus’ vision. He came to give his life for the many. He had a very clear vision of what he wanted to achieve.
Let’s pursue a big vision – a vision to see this nation re-evangelised; to see our society transformed, to see marriage and family life re-established again as a foundation of a strong society; to see the prisons emptied; to see the nation again with Jesus Christ at its centre. That is a vision worth going for and I believe it could happen in our generation.