The life of Jesus teaches many leadership concepts for leaders to embrace. Though most notable as a servant leader, he was also a teacher, mentor, nurturer, trainer, and accomplisher. Leaders become great when they model Jesus in three key elements of His leadership: delegation, development and detours.
Many women default to ‘do it myself’ rather than ‘delegate it’ when they take on responsibilities. Leaders must realize that delegating doesn’t just relieve their load, but more importantly, it allows others to collaborate in success. It builds people up, proves their readiness to lead, and equips them to take action and learn. Jesus delegated in both task and people projects. Whether it was distributing fish and bread (Luke 9:13-17) or discharging His disciples in relationships (Luke 9:1-6), He set clear expectations, gave instructions, and released others to do important work. Delegating requires an investment of time from the leader, but the return on investment is exponential.
Another mark of a great leader is that she builds up other leaders. Jesus let His disciples see Him in action, and they learned from it. Because leadership is more flow than formula, side-by-side is often the best way of mentoring. Jesus gave His followers opportunities to resolve matters on their own. At times when needed, He intervened, such as when Peter lopped an ear, or when the disciples were puzzled that demons didn’t respond to them. He took time to do more than accomplish the work. He not only told parables, but He interpreted them. He also asked questions that provoked introspection, “Who do you say that I am?” and “Do you love me?” were prompts to learning. Jesus knew that He was leaving, so He spent time preparing those who would follow. Intentionally developing others builds both their capacity and competence to stand on their own.
Jesus allowed interruptions. He was headed somewhere else when the woman with the issue of blood caught His attention. Instead of shooing her away, He paid attention, listened and responded to her need. While others were distracted by the woman with the alabaster box, Jesus was attracted to her. He took time for these women, tended to them, and history tells of them today. Jesus was willing to take a detour to meet needs. As leaders, we must realize that sometimes the destination is not as important as the opportunities on the journey.
When a leader is willing to delegate, develop, and detour, she can reach more people, more deeply. The point of leadership is, after all, the people we lead. Following Christ’s model can bring relief and results for the leader. All of these keys of leadership are essential, but maybe the most important key to learn from Jesus is His willingness to defer to the Father. Often leaders must ask God to intervene, give wisdom, bring resolution, and even come to their rescue. “Not My will, but Thine” is a powerful attitude to embrace as a leader.