We looked like a train just leaving the depot. We raced in a single-file line through the all too familiar woods behind Granny’s house. We had run through the woods numerous times in our childhood, but this particular day was one we’ve never forgotten. If memory serves me correctly, we were lined up starting with the oldest: my cousin Jacob, to the youngest, my brother Kris. Myself, my brother Kyle, and my cousin Aaron all sandwiched somewhere in between. My memory won’t allow me to tell you how old we were, but it was many years ago, back when scratchy wind pants and side spikes were the trends.
I can still see our fearless leader running full speed ahead; he was giving it all he had to stay in the lead. I imagine the scent of fall leaves and the sound of swishy pants and crushing leaves beneath our feet. But more than anything, I wish I had been on the other side of the fence when Jacob’s eyes grew four sizes at the sight of the new barbwire fence that came out of nowhere. I imagine the sheer terror on his face as he tried slowing down on the slippery leaves, while four more people domino into him, eventually landing him on the barbwire.
While I was preparing for the thought of Lead Well, this childhood story popped into my head. The idea of where are we leading people? Are we leading others well? Oh, and Jacob survived by the way. I’m sure he was sore for a few days, but he survived, no thanks to the rest of us.
When I ask this question of are we leading others well, I want you to understand I am not talking about church ministry work only. We are all called to lead others, whether you want to be a leader or not. We were all created to do two things: follow Jesus and lead others to Him. You are a leader, I am a leader; we were born to lead people. So how are you doing? That’s the question I had to ask myself. So I began studying and finding out how Jesus led people. And I’d love to share some things I’ve learned, so as we lead, we lead like Jesus. Again, it’s not just about working within the church; it’s about people everywhere. Maybe at work, or school, or the market, perhaps in your own home. It doesn’t matter where you are; you can lead where you are.
I could probably write a book about the character of Jesus and His leadership, but I’ll refrain and point out just a few things. And you may be thinking it’s hard to compare our leadership to that of Jesus, after all, he was perfect and without sin. And while that’s true, the people he led were not. Jesus dealt with the same things you and I deal with on a daily basis concerning leading people. So yes, we will never be perfect on this side of heaven, but we can follow His perfect example.
Jesus is compassionate and loving. When Jesus encountered broken people, He didn’t count them out and run the other direction. He ran toward them and their situation, always having compassion for them, loving them despite their shortcomings, poor choices, and sin. Jesus saw them through the lens of love, seeing what God created them to be, not what they had become. He desired to see them whole, living the life God created for them. Am I viewing those around me through the lens of love? Is my heart to lead them to the full life Christ came to give us? Or am I backing down and running away when people and situations get too complicated?
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm, He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. Isaiah 40:11
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Jesus is forgiving. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people can be hurtful. Sometimes in unintentional ways, and sadly, other times it’s very intentional. But Jesus knew all too well what it was like to have people hating on you. He knew the hurt of being lied to, and the pain of being stabbed in the back by those closest to Him, but yet He always offered a spirit of forgiveness. When He hung broken and bleeding on the cross, He asked one thing, that those who put Him there would be forgiven by the Father. To lead well, it takes forgiving well. We can not lead others toward the relentless love of God if we aren’t extending love and forgiveness toward those who hurt us.
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing ” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Luke 22:34
Jesus is faithful and obedient. The cross of Calvary is a beautiful picture of Christ’s faithfulness and His obedience. He didn’t have to hang there and give up His life in exchange for yours; He did it because He loved you and He loved the Father who sent Him. He was faithful and obedient to the call God had placed on Him. And we get to choose the same. God will never force us to be faithful or obedient; it’s our choice. But if we want to lead well, it’s a must. The people you lead need to know you’re faithful to them and Him, and I know I’ve said it a million times over, but blessing hinges on our obedience to God. If you want to live in the fullness God has for you, be obedient to His ways and His will.
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. John 4:34
Leading well isn’t always as easily said as done; however, it is possible. When we focus on the example of Jesus, we find the character needed to lead like Him. I pray as you go about your day, whatever a day looks like for you, that you will be intentional to lead others, and to lead them well.