Jesus did things differently.
The religion of Israel during the time of Jesus was temple-centric while Jesus focused his ministry from a small fishing village.
The Pharisees and Sadducees wore robes and led in grand ceremonies, but Jesus ate with sinners and taught on mountain sides.
Church leadership often drifts toward large sanctuaries, programs, and staff. Nothing wrong with this, and needed, but Jesus’ style of leadership focused on a few disciples and was lived out in the countryside.
I was the senior pastor of a larger church for decades.
I studied the discipleship methods of Jesus early in my ministry, and as the church that I pastored grew, I tried to follow three lessons of Jesus’ leadership taught in the Gospels.
Prayer Before Associating
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer with God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles (Luke 6:12-13).
The secret of Jesus’ leadership was selecting the right leaders. He prayed before asking His disciples to follow Him.
I spent a lot of time in my early years of ministry with people whom I thought would be great leaders. They weren’t, then left, and often challenged or accused me. A church leader has limited time; understanding who you can work with in ministry is essential.
As I learned to pray for discernment, my selection of great leaders became more successful.
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-19).
Jesus called Simon and Andrew to be fishers of men.
I spent weeks discipling most of the leaders in my church with First Steps Discipleship. During our sessions, I was able to share my heart that Christianity is a relationship with God and that we should all be disciple-makers.
Throughout the Gospels there are passages like:
As they were walking along the road (Luke 9:57).
I walked with the leaders of our church – with one-on-one discipleship, attending conferences, lunches, and Bible studies. I had extensive prayer lists for them.
I consider a significant legacy of my pastoral ministry is that I spent 49 years as the pastor of one church and we never had a church split. My relationships with church leaders, and our common vision, drew us closer during difficulties.
Discipleship and leadership-building can’t be duplicated in a classroom. One of the early influences in my ministry came through reading a book by Robert Coleman entitled Masterplan of Evangelism:
By their fellowship with Jesus, the disciples were able to know the mysteries of God. Knowledge was gained by association with Jesus before they could understand by explanation.
When developing leaders, my greatest mistakes came when I promoted “my ways” and “my vision” instead of growing with my leaders as we together followed Jesus.
Listening and learning together the calling of Jesus for our lives and church.
That’s the Jesus style of leadership!