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Preferred Leadership Style

If you eventually find yourself in a position of leadership, what kind of a leader do you hope to be? If you get promoted to foreman or manager, how will your employees perceive you? If you become a Sunday School superintendent or an elder in the local church or the chairperson of a group responsible for a local cemetery – what will your style be like?

“Okay. Let’s get it straight. I’m in charge. You guys can have your input but ultimately, I call the shots. The buck stops with me. When I say ‘jump’ I expect you to respond in unison: ‘how high?’ I mean business and I won’t be taking any guff from any of you. I don’t expect any whining either – after all, I’m in charge. When it’s your turn to run the ship then you can call the shots but I’m in the captain’s chair just now. Is that clear? Everybody understand?!!”

Admittedly, that example is exaggerated somewhat, but sometimes body-language and between-the-line messages, basically communicate the same message.

When you’re in charge will people whisper: “She’s on a power trip. It’s all gone to her head?” When you get promoted, will the people you once worked with say: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?” When they ask you to head the group, will you sit at the head of the table and dominate from beginning to end? Will others say: “He’s really not listening. He’s merely going through the motions of the communication process, but he already knows what he intends to do.”  

That sounds like a very hierarchical style of leadership. The top down approach. The pyramid model with you at the top. King of the castle!

And sadly, that’s what people often think leadership is – even in the context of a local church. Who can make it to the top?

There is another style of management which Jesus advocated. When He outlined His leadership style, no doubt eyebrows lifted and jaws dropped.


But Jesus called them to Himself and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men
exercise authority over them.  "It is not this way among you,
but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:25-28 NASB


Two of the disciples were hoping for big promotions in Jesus’ kingdom. Even a mom got involved in trying to ‘pull the strings’ so her boys would come out on top. When the other disciples heard the rumours, they were furious! That’s when Jesus called them to Himself and talked to them about the inverted pyramid leadership style.

No doubt it was a shocker to all of them. But it shouldn’t have been. All they had ever seen of their leader was that style. He didn’t ride roughshod over the poor or those in need. In fact, He was most attentive and sensitive to their needs – whether it was for food or healing or forgiveness. When the people interrupted a mini-vacation He was giving His disciples, His immediate impulse was to serve the people and respond to their needs. He didn’t move into His headquarters in Capernaum and hang out a shingle stating His office hours for people to meet with Him. No – daily He went to where the people were and wearied Himself in serving others.

When it came to His self-sacrificing approach, He went further than all – He gave His life to benefit others. The ultimate sacrifice! How could we ever seek to climb the ladder of influence and power, when He so humbled Himself! How could we ever arrogantly flaunt our position when our Leader demonstrated such humility and grace!

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.
Warmly in Christ,


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