The Leadership Lessons of Jesus Christ
When we talk about Jesus as a leader, we may imply two different forms: Jesus as the only Son of God, God of the universe, or the risen Christ as being one with God; or Jesus as the 1 st century flesh and blood human being, the historical figure. Since the purpose of studying leadership is to improve one's own leadership skills, it makes sense to analyze Jesus' applicable traits, actions, and accomplishments as a good leader—in his historical role—so his leadership skills can be feasibly related to ourselves as human beings. I will attempt to analyze, using modern leadership criteria, how Jesus of Nazareth, the Jew and carpenter's son, was an effective spiritual leader of his time.
Let us first examine the leadership attitude Jesus showed in his ministry. According to the address Thomas Cronin delivered at the Western Academy of Management in 1982, part of what makes leaders appealing is their confidence and faith:
Leaders have those indispensable qualities of contagious self-confidence, unwarranted optimism, and incurable idealism that allow them to attract and mobilize others to undertake tasks these people never dreamed they could undertake. (To Lead or Not to Lead, Unit One 36)
Jesus had infectious self-confidence that attracted all types of people to his cause. A teacher of the law said to Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow your wherever you go” (Matt. 8:19). He was also an optimist: Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). He was an idealist; his mission commanded his followers to be spiritually perfect (Matt. 5:48). Although Jesus' ethical standard was incredibly high, his faith in God was appealing and comforting to others.
Jesus' prophetic proclamations and faith put many followers at ease; he knew his mission and where he was leading his followers: “Jesus answered [the Pharisees], ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going” (John 8:14). Jesus gave a frank opinion about his purpose when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). Cronin adds, “Leaders are people who know who they are and know where they are going. . . . [They] must be self-reliant individuals with great tenacity and stamina” (36). So aside from the common interpretations that Jesus was the Son of God or the Messiah (sent to earth to be king and deliverer of the Jews), Jesus was an intelligent man, who usually knew what to say and when to say it. N.T. Wright writes, “Jesus spoke of himself as a prophet, he behaved as a prophet, and when others referred to him in this way he did not correct them” (33).
Before we can explain how Jesus articulated his vision, we must first examine what his vision was. Wright writes, “Jesus was a first-century Jewish prophet announcing...