Monthly Archives: October 2015

Jesus Developed People

Today it is impossible to observe organizational need and not conclude that the overwhelming lack is the presence of sufficient good leaders and the development of better leaders. Almost all of the classic and contemporary books one can read on leadership will address this felt need for developing leaders.  Here is just one such statement from a Christian statesman in the 1960s, “The overriding need of the church, if it is to discharge its obligation to the rising generation, is for a leadership that is authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.” (Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, p. 16)

As so often happens, we can invest enormous energy and cost to understand and implement leader development by learning from the best current business and Church thinkers and practitioners. We either forget or devalue that one of the greatest leaders who ever lived 2000 years ago taught, coached, and modeled leader development.  If for no other reason, he is worthy of our respect since today approximately one-third of the world’s population identifies with his life and teaching.  The study of the life of Jesus Christ should be the primary source for designing a process for developing people.

In this next series of blog articles, the focus will be on how Jesus developed people. There will be an exploration of how content was communicated, where and when development took place, and some principles that could enhance our efforts to develop people.  Beyond the essential resource of the Bible and the Gospels in particular, learning from diligent students of Jesus is instructive.  Alexander Balmin Bruce first published his classic work on The Training of the Twelve in 1877.  Robert Coleman synthesized Jesus’ developmental model into eight principles in The Master Plan of Evangelism in 1963.  From these two works along with the Scriptures, there is ample learning to address this perpetual challenge of building leaders for any need.

Parents, teachers, and supervisors/managers of every organization can be intentional and effective in developing people. In fact, it could be easily argued that people development is not just a job for the few, but it is the responsibility for the many.  The results of development can certainly vary so well intentioned people should learn how to develop well.  From the life of Jesus, we take heed of the unintended consequences when we learn to influence in unhealthy ways.

“All Christians are under obligation to make the most of their lives, to develop to the utmost their God-given powers and capacities.   But Jesus taught that any ambition that centers around and terminates on oneself is wrong.” (Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, p. 11)

Where are you at when it comes to developing people? When from your past have you been developed well?  In home, at school, at work?  What stands out in your memory about your process of learning and development?  How did the developer serve you?  What about your development or lack thereof is instructive for the way you should develop others?  We cannot impart what we do not possess.  And like it or not, we reproduce after our own kind.  What course should you take to develop into an outstanding developer of people?

Next blog: Jesus Developed by Teaching

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Leading Like Jesus Review

All Christ-centered leaders should ensure that those they serve are being led well. Jesus clearly provided a pattern to follow. In John 13:13-15, after modeling leading by His identity of a servant, Jesus summarized: “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

His example of godly leadership touched many areas. Among what He demonstrated are the crucial dimensions of setting clear direction, aligning resources strategically, inspiring and motivating for action, and managing people well. These were addressed in the previous blogs. What else comes to your mind as prominent in what Jesus modeled?

Here are a few questions to consider by way of review.

  • Setting Direction: How confident are you that the direction you have set or are going is the direction the Holy Spirit wants for you to go? Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19). What do you see that God is doing and inviting you to join Him? Once discerned, how can you best communicate this direction both humbly and confidently?
  • Aligning Resources: How well do you know your strengths and those of whom you lead so you can align everyone for maximum contribution? What resources do you have access to that if brought to bear could provide enhanced momentum? Remember, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Helping people align to their design is good stewardship.
  • Inspiring and Motivating: What motivates and inspires you? This may or may not serve others the same. Learn what stimulates and engages those you lead so you can help them become intrinsically moved to live and lead more like Jesus.
  • Managing People: Is your scope of supervision such that you can really serve each person to be successful and satisfied in their contribution? If so, empower well. If not, how and when can you share your responsibility so each person receives the attention he or she needs? You deserve to be managed well and so do those you lead.

One final thought: everywhere I read, I find reinforced that powerful life shaping experiences, those that challenge a person to be stretched beyond current capacity, are the most developmental opportunities and have enormous potential for making an impact. Accepting this as true, how did Jesus lead the disciples into such experiences? Think through the Gospel accounts. What comes to mind about how the disciples were challenged? Now think about how you lead. How are you challenging those you serve to be stretched so they can both grow and make an impact?

The next set of blog articles will address leading like Jesus in terms of developing people.

 

 

 

 

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