Leadership: Being Imitators of Christ

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Good leaders study successful leaders; either by reading what they’ve written or reading what was written about them. It’s very useful to see how those who have lead well did in their role as leaders.

As Ministry Leaders, we must study how to lead God’s people. Jesus Christ is the role model in which we should pattern our leadership style from.

We are encouraged in scripture to be imitators of Christ.

C.S. Lewis writes, “What is near Him by likeness is never, by that fact alone, going to be any nearer. But nearness of approach is, by definition, increasing nearness. And whereas the likeness is given to us — and can be received with or without thanks, can be used or abused — the approach, however initiated and supported by Grace, is something we must do. Creatures are made in their varying ways images of God without their own collaboration or even consent. It is not so that they become sons of God. And the likeness they receive by sonship is not that of images or portraits. It is in one way more than likeness, for it is union or unity with God in will… Our imitation of God in this life-that is, our willed imitation as distinct from any of the likenesses which He has impressed upon our natures or states-must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we can attribute to the Divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the Divine life operating under human conditions.”

Paul writes in two of his letters that as Christians, we should be imitating Christ.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

1 Corinthians 4:15-16 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.

In both passages, Paul is encouraging his readers to be imitators of Christ. In the second passage, Paul is saying to imitate him as he is in imitating Christ. He is pointing his reading to Christ who is our model.

In my 20’s, I wanted to be the best leader I could be and I still hold to that same desire. I’ve read books about presidents of the United States, biographies of Christian leaders, and business leadership books; mainly written by John Maxwell.

It was during this stage of my life that I started to read all four gospels every year. Some of the gospels I read more than once because in order for me to lead God’s people the way He wants me to lead them, I need to see how Christ led those who followed Him.

Our calling as Ministry Leaders is from God so our leadership styles should reflect the One who calls us.

The corporate and military leadership styles are affective but we are called to a higher standard; and since we are called to a higher standard, our style should be His style. Jesus spoke about this in the Upper Room discourse in the book of John.

Jesus Christ in the ultimate role model in the life in every believer and leadership is no exception.

There are four principles that Jesus used to establish a pattern for leadership that we should imitate.

Matthew 9:35-38 “And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’”

  1. Modeling – Jesus modeled what He wanted the disciples to do. As a leader, it never works to say: “do as I say, not as I do.” If you are a leader, then you must model what you want those following you to do.

As God’s man, I must point others to Him. This is what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 (For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.) Remember, Godly men are simply that, flaunted finite men serving an infinite and perfect God.

  1. Motivation – Jesus knew the need of the people and what God wanted to do in their lives. As leaders, we should also. A leader:

■ is never self-serving (that will disqualify him/her)

■ doesn’t speak of self but of God, the mission, and the people

■ is motivated not by self but by God’s purpose fulfilled in the lives of those he/she leads

  1. Mission – Jesus had a clear picture of His mission. As leaders, we also should have a clear picture of our mission. A leader should:

■ know where the group is going

■ be able to clearly communicate that direction to the group

* Leadership is defined as the ability to influence a group to accomplish a purpose or project.

  1. Means – Jesus had a clear understanding of how He and the disciples would accomplish the mission. This included:

■ strategy

■ resources

* Remember this: Nothing is ever accomplished without a leader.

One of the dumps in the road that can derail Godly leadership is trust.

Trust factor:

Trust is the most important ingredient between the leader and those being led.  If trust is not present, nothing will work.  To be trusted one must be credible, reliable, trustworthy, and predictable.  Some trust may be given as a result of position and function, but long term trust is earned.

As a Leader, the  number one job is to develop others.  We should look for ways to include new people in the vision.  Leaders see the big picture and take action.

Leaders should be less insecure (our security is placed on the person of Jesus Christ) and they’re not concerned with who gets credit.

Ministry is all about giving the glory to God because He is the One Who does, and we are called to follow His lead.

Leaders don’t make excuses and they aren’t afraid to take chances.  They understand that failure is a learning experience not a death experience. Leaders have a healthy sense of reality and can live without perfection.

Successful leaders have some common character traits:

  1. They have a clear sense of purpose.
  2. They are persistent.
  3. They have self-knowledge.
  4. They are perpetual learners.
  5. They love what they do.
  6. They attract and motivate followers.
  7. They have emotional maturity.
  8. They are risk-takers.
  9. They do not believe failure is terminal.
  10. They are good followers.
  11. They are able to separate the important from the urgent and can define what creates accomplishment.
  12. They are willing to pay the price.

The bigness of a person is determined by the cause he/she lives for and the price he/she is willing to pay for its achievement. Leaders are wise; they have the ability to discern the highest and best goals and know how they should be achieved.

Good leaders, are Godly leaders. Godly leaders have experienced God in their lives.  They have forsaken all to follow Jesus and are living for Christ and not themselves.  They have a God-given dream that is for the betterment of others.  They see things from God’s perspective and live in vital union with God through the Holy Spirit.  A godly leader knows the voice of God and can lead the people in obedience to God’s will.

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” – Romans 8:14

Godly leaders, lead by the Holy Ghost. Today we need anointed, Holy Ghost led leadership–leaders who can hear the voice of God and lead the people in His will.  We need Christ-serving leaders and not self-serving people.  We need leaders whose lives reflect Jesus–who can say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

As leaders, we have the highest calling. Out calling is to love on God’s people and help them grow. Each ministry in the church has a part in the Kingdom of God; from setting a hospitable environment where people feel loved; to leading people to the throne through music; to caring for babies so the parents can hear God’s word; to teaching children the truth of Christ’s love; to equipping people to grow in their walks with Christ. All are needed, and play a part.

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