Here is my one foundational belief when I think about leadership.

As Christians, we don’t have the luxury to lead however we like. We must lead by following Jesus’ example of servant-leadership.

Whenever I feel inadequate or fail as a leader, what brings me comfort is that I have a perfect example to work towards. I don’t get stuck feeling bad about myself — I look heavenward towards the ultimate servant-leader.

What is your idea of leadership? How does it compare to Jesus’ way of servant-leadership?

Power and prestige are attractive.

Because humans are fallen, we take pleasure when people look up to us. And not in a good way: Many seek leadership merely for the lofty position it provides.

Power and prestige are not inherently bad. But we need to examine our hearts when we start to want these things. A prideful sense of superiority over subordinates isn’t beneficial — it’s why the number one reason for employees quitting their jobs is an unhealthy relationship with the boss.

The Bible rejects the idea of power and prestige as the prize of the position.

“But Jesus called them [the disciples] to Him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.'” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Ask God to reveal the heart behind your desire for leadership. To lead is to serve.

We aren’t inclined to humility.

In fact, if there was a spectrum of leadership styles, the Biblical example lies on the opposite end of the world’s. Christ’s model of servant-leadership is unpopular because it clashes with humanity’s prideful and self-serving nature.

But the Lord didn’t lord it over us. Since God has shown us that leadership is servanthood, we need to lay aside our notions of leadership to adopt His.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient tot he point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8)

Leadership is a journey of learning humility. Would you be willing to follow the way Christ leads?

Because to lead is to follow.

One of my lecturers once said, “Every failure in leadership is a failure in following the example of Jesus.” There’s so much truth to that statement. There are many times where incompetent leadership is not so much a leadership issue as it is a discipleship one.

A Christlike leader acknowledges who the true Leader is. Successful leadership isn’t about having everyone following him, but that everyone is led by God.

So, before we ask ourselves how we can lead our people better, I’d like to suggest that there’s a better question to ask first.

How can I follow Jesus better?

About the author

Roy Tay

Roy has a peculiar appreciation for subtle wordplay, an inexplorable passion for competitive sports, and an insatiable hunger for delicious food.