What kind of leaders are we? Do we lead by demanding or by demonstrating? Do we lead with an attitude of pride or one of humility? Do we motivate with sternness or with grace?
Jesus led out of grace, demonstrating what He wanted His followers to do, and serving them in humility. If we are going to lead like Jesus, we need to consider how to lead by example with humility and grace.
Matthew 11:28-29 reveals Jesus’ gentle leadership. He admonished His followers, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jesus encouraged His disciples with the truth that He would help them carry their burdens. He reminded them that He is gentle and humble. As leaders, Jesus is our example, so we must be communicating these same kinds of encouraging sentiments to those we lead.
Do we offer words of grace and encouragement to those we are discipling or mentoring? Do we offer to help them with new tasks or pray for them in their ministry endeavors? Do we come along side people we are mentoring and memorize Scripture along with them, rather than just telling them to memorize it? Do we offer ideas for how to accomplish goals or share helpful resources?
Effective leaders graciously walk alongside those they lead, encouraging and equipping them as they journey together.
We need to remember that we are all sinners saved by grace, and since the ground at the foot of the cross is level, we need to lead out of an abundance of humility and grace. There is no place for pride in leadership.
Jesus is the ultimate example of humble leadership. He did not berate His disciples when they did not understand. He did not “lord it over them” by boasting about His divinity. In fact, He often referred to Himself as the Son of Man, rather than as the Son of God, to humbly emphasize His connection with humanity.
Paul also reminds us of Christ’s humility in Philippians 2:5-8 when he gives this challenge to Christ-followers. “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 to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
The incarnation, in which Jesus came to earth and took on human form, is probably the greatest act of humility in human history. And Jesus’ leadership of his disciples demonstrated that same characteristic of humility as He served and taught them.
He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the disciples’ feet to show them how to serve. He welcomed children to come to Him in order to demonstrate caring for the most vulnerable. He gently corrected the disciples when they didn’t understand His teaching or instructions.
If we are seeking to be Christ-like leaders, we must be humble. We must interact with grace. We must be willing to give of ourselves to serve and lead others. We must follow the example of Jesus, who humbled Himself and led with grace.