"To be a good leader,
you have to study the patterns of the most effective leaders who have
ever lived," says Mary Ruth Swope, author of eight management books. "In my opinion, the most
effective leader was Jesus. He spearheaded the concept of servant leadership--Jesus
knew who he was and showed that being a servant is the best way to behave
The management concept that has been shaking the corporate world is
the idea that hierarchies in corporate management are dead. The leader's
authority does not result from her position or degree but from the shared
vision she carries and her acceptance as a leader by members of the
organization. This concept is called "post-heroic" leadership (or "servant"
leadership) because the focus is off the single magnetic leader at the
top of a hierarchy (the "hero") who authoritatively sets policy. Above
all, post-heroic leaders are willing, as Time magazine says, to "walk
the talk", to "live by the values they espouse."
This concept of leadership may be the new mode of leadership for the
corporate world for the 21st Century, but many will recognize it as
a First Century idea. It's the "management program" set forth by Jesus.
Jesus taught that you did not have to be a hero to be a leader. He taught
just the opposite; that to be leader you must be a servant. He taught
that there is no need to pull rank on each other, and that "the greatest
among you will be your servant." (Matthew 23:8ff)
Jesus had twelve disciples whom he led and mentored, and they, in turn,
were sent out to further the work he was doing. Jesus was willing to
"walk the talk" when he demonstrated his commitment to this principle
by washing his disciples feet. (John 13:5)
(See also Personal Character of Jesus.)
Perhaps the most relevant example of what Jesus thought about heroic
corporate leadership versus servant leadership is recorded in Matthew
20. The mother of James and John came to Jesus and asked that her sons
be permitted to sit at the right and left of Jesus in the Kingdom. Obviously,
the mother of these two men had a very corporate view of the kingdom.
She wanted her sons to be at high points on the executive ladder, Executive
Vice-Presidents of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus did not agree with this management style.
He pointed to the Gentiles as a bad example of those who "lord it over"
people, and wanted no part of this plan. Instead he pronounced a dictum
he repeated on many occasions: "Whoever wants to be great among you
must be your servant."
And the model of this management style of Jesus himself? As he said,"The
Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his
life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:21ff) Servant leadership may
be a style of management to corporations, but to Jesus it was an attitude
Adapted from Donald L. Hughes, "The Leadership
Model of Jesus," JesusJournal.com.
Elise Darbro, "Increasing Productivity: One Brick at a Time," Child
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