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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Fourteenth (Leadership)

Have you ever worked for someone and it was clearly evident he or she was a terrible leader? Maybe you were a leader, or are one, and have had situations where you looked back and realized you should have handled something differently? There are a lot of different aspects of leadership, and a lot of different styles that you can read in all sorts of books. While you can't necessarily look at a scenario and say there is definitely one best way to handle it, it's very clear to all involved when that scenario is handled with poor leadership.

This week we're going to look at the leadership traits of the greatest leader that ever lived. Is it Abraham Lincoln? George Washington? Alexander the Great? Napolean? No, it's our Yeshua, of course!

It's easy to put Jesus on a different level than us, and for sure He deserves to be thought about with respect and honor. But don't forget He was, and is, a leader to people, just like you and me. When He ministered on earth, those that He led were not special. They were not exceptional. They were not all the most successful, or even the most educated.

In fact, when you look at the disciples, who stuck with Him to the end, they were normal, every day people. And with a tax collector in their midst, you can bet there were likely many leadership opportunities that occurred based on tensions among them. Surprisingly, there's not a lot written about situations like that in scripture. There are some examples, though.

Let's look at one of those to start off. While at the Passover (Pesach) meal, the disciples argued about who would be called the greatest (Luke 22:24). Did He berate them for arguing about something so worldly? Did He put them down for being focused on the wrong thing, on what their status would be? Or did He just ignore them and call them foolish in His head?

Obviously, He didn't do any of those things. Instead, He instructs them again. He already told them that those that exalt themselves will be humbled (Luke 18:14), and that He Himself came to serve (Mark 10:45) not that He was trying to gain some sort of status. Here is one aspect of Jesus' leadership style: patience. In this particular situation, He even went further and provided an object lesson by washing the disciples' feet (John 13:1-17), emphasizing that if it's not about status for Him, it shouldn't be about status for them, either. It also showed humility, another important leadership trait.

Rather than getting frustrated with them continuing not to understand and going to find some other disciples, Yeshua just continued to instruct. He asked them a couple times about their lack of understanding (Matthew 15:16, Mark 8:21), but just continued to teach them, telling them more parables, and even explaining those parables.

Another key aspect of Jesus' leadership is His compassion. There are many instances in scripture where His compassion is specifically called out, but I'll just point out one. He came to the shore at one point in His ministry and saw the crowd of people, who were literally running to Him because of what He was teaching and doing. He taught them because of His compassion for them, being lost and without a true leader, a person with truth to guide them (Mark 6:34). His heart ached because they had not had such leadership and truth and were craving it (at least at that point in His ministry)

This is a great segue into the next aspect of His leadership: instruction. It is extremely poor leadership to set someone one a task with no expectations or parameters for them to perform that task. It only leads to frustration on both sides as effort is expended fruitlessly and the task is not completed to the "leader's" liking. It's even worse to ignore the need to assist in a person's personal growth. Leadership is not about just getting someone to do something for you, it's about care and concern for them as a person and helping them grow both personally and professionally. And that's not just words, that's providing the tools and means for that growth to occur.

We know, and have talked about before, the end all and be all for the gift of eternal life is belief in Yeshua Ha'Maschiach (John 3:16). However, did Jesus stop at that? Was that His only message? No. He instructed the disciples and others to open their eyes to things like the oral tradition being meaningless and man-made, and to teach them of the true standard regarding the Law, like even lustful thoughts being adultery (Matthew 5:28).

This provided everyone the opportunity to grow spiritually, and leads us to the next aspect of Jesus' leadership: clear expectations. He started His ministry with one requirement: repent (Matthew 4:17). He approached the disciples with one requirement: follow Him (Matthew 4:19). He was very clear with these requirements, and others: Believe in Him to have eternal life (John 6:47), Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24-25). Clear expectations alleviate any anxiety that occurs with ambiguous, or worse, non-existent, expectations. Not only are anxious individuals less capable of performing at their best, a lack of, or unclear, set of expectations almost guarantees that your goals as a leader will not be met.

Another aspect of Yeshua's leadership is obviously His sacrifice for His followers. I think the purpose of His sacrifice is pretty self explanatory, but it's closely tied with another key aspect of His leadership: doing what you expect, or ask, your people to do. Not only did He tell them that if you are so focused on keeping your life you'll lose your eternal life (Matthew 16:25), He demonstrated that He was willing to lose His life as well. Sacrificing for your people, and doing, or being willing to do, what you expect them to do shows them that it's not about control or domination over them, it's about working towards a common goal, about a higher purpose of working together to achieve something. In the case of Jesus, that purpose was overcoming death and the world.

Have you ever had a leader that cut you down every time you made a mistake? Being gentle in correction is another characteristic of Jesus' leadership. When Peter cut off one of the ears of an apprehender of Jesus, He simply told him to put away his sword and pointed out that this was what God had planned (John 18:11). When the disciples rebuked people for bringing children, while He was displeased, He just said to let them come to Him (Mark 10:13-16). Gently correcting helps realign someone to expectations and prevents their paralysis, or poor performance, due to fear of the repercussions of failure.

To close, the final characteristic of Yeshua's leadership to note is about avoiding confrontation...Don't! Taking the commandment of first going to your brother with an issue to a whole other level, He knew thoughts and confronted people on them. He called out people on evil thoughts they were having (Matthew 9:4), and also confronted the money changers and sellers at the temple, in righteous anger overthrowing their tables (Matthew 21:12). Confrontation to resolve issues or address poor performance is necessary to prevent the festering of resentment. Inevitably, these issues or poor performance will manifest in a relationship in other ways, for example by snide or sarcastic comments towards the individual, or a change in behavior to the person. This creates a toxic environment in which no one enjoys working.

On confronting at the temple, as a side note, Jesus cleansed the temple twice (John 2:13-21, Matthew 21:12-13), and this has a very interesting connection to Levitical Law. Namely, Yehovah commanded that if a house was unclean, it should be shut up and then the unclean parts removed if the uncleanness had spread days later. If the uncleanness returned, the house was to be destroyed, one stone not left upon another, and all taken to an unclean place outside the city (Leviticus 14:33-45).

What happened after the second time Jesus cleansed the temple? Well, if they didn't get the hint after the first time, I'm sure they didn't get it the second time and returned to their money changing and selling in the temple. So what ultimately ended up happening to the temple? Just what Jesus prophesied (Matthew 24:2), and just what was ordered according to Levitical Law: the uncleanness returned so the temple was destroyed, not one stone left upon another. Amazing, right?

So, perhaps you're in a position of leadership right now, or maybe you will be in one in the future. Regardless, you should embody the characteristics of Jesus' leadership! We should all be leaders in Christ! Patience, humility, compassion, instruction, setting clear expectations, sacrifice and being willing or doing what you expect others to do, being gentle in correction, and not avoiding confrontation, are all aspects of true leadership, as shown by our Lord and Savior.

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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