We have a problem. Let’s call it for what it is.
America is full of “Christian” leaders who don’t lead like Jesus.
By all the numbers, they are getting the job done, but at what cost?
Whenever a “Christian” politician or businessperson chooses power and profit over people, Jesus gets a bad name.
Every time another pastor is caught cheating, the church loses credibility.
We live in a pragmatic time where people believe that the ends justify the means. But that’s not what the Bible teaches.
Jesus, the greatest leader to ever walk the face of the earth, broke the leadership mold. He was different than any leader before or after him.
We need more leaders to lead like Jesus. Here are seven profound leadership lessons from Jesus that will help make you a leader worth following.
1. Sacrifice Yourself
Many of today’s leaders have egos so big it’s a wonder they can walk through a door.
But Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself to die in our place on the cross.
Even though Christianity is all about Jesus, Jesus was not all about Jesus. He taught that the first will be last and the last will be first (Matt 20:16). He declared that the humble will be exalted and the exalted, humbled (Luke 14:11).
Leading like Jesus starts with humility and self-sacrifice (Phil 2:5-8). If you want to be like Jesus, deny yourself and take up the cross like he did (Luke 9:23). Kill every selfish motive, thought, and desire in your life.
2. Serve People
Leaders are often lured by the power and privilege of leadership. They want to lead so that people will serve them.
If you are self-serving, you aren’t leading like Jesus.
If you want to lead like Jesus, you need to start putting others ahead of yourself. Everything you do in your life and work should be centered on serving people.
3. Develop Leaders
Some leaders want to hire leaders, but they don’t want to develop them.
But Jesus recruited raw leaders and invested in their development.
The disciples often made mistakes, but Jesus didn’t fire them when they messed up. He used their mistakes as opportunities to teach (Luke 9:46-48).
Although not all of them panned out (like Judas), Jesus’ eleven leaders changed the world. The billions of Christians in the world today could trace their faith back to the work of Jesus’ disciples.
Great leaders know that they cannot do it all on their own. They recruit leaders with potential and invest the time and money to develop them. Like Jesus, they are patient and forgiving of mistakes (John 21:15-19).
4. Rest Often
Too many leaders parade their work hours like a medal of honor. It’s not uncommon to hear them brag about 60+ hour workweeks and pulling all-nighters (#Hustle).
But the grueling pace of many leaders leads them to moral failure, health failure, and broken families.
Jesus worked hard, but he knew when to rest (Mark 4:38).
In fact, after the disciples were sent out and returned to give Jesus a report of their work, Jesus told them “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
Jesus worked hard, but he wasn’t a slave driver. He knew the importance of rest and taught his disciples to rest too.
Jesus proclaimed, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).
5. Press On
In our modern world of viral videos, get-rich-quick schemes, and microwaved results, many leaders demand immediate success.
So when things get too hard, they bail on their team for a more promising opportunity.
He knew the mission. He was single-minded in purpose (Luke 19:10). He pressed on toward the goal.
Great leaders are long-suffering. They persevere. They are committed to the mission and won’t stop no matter how long it takes.
As Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
6. Speak Candidly
Today’s leaders often speak out both sides of their mouth. They say one thing publicly but another privately.
We are afraid to say what we think so we soften their words and don’t say what we mean.
But Jesus spoke with candor. He didn’t hide his true thoughts for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.
You never had to guess where you stood with Jesus. He spoke his mind and told it like it was.
Candor is a lost art in our society. It doesn’t mean being rude or cold-hearted. There are some thoughts that are better kept to yourself.
But if you want to lead more like Jesus, don’t sugarcoat your conversations.
Speak the truth in love, even when it stings (Eph 4:15).
7. Choose Integrity
Many leaders have a secret. They told a lie, have an addiction, manipulate their followers, cut a corner, or live a secret life when nobody is looking.
It’s why people always want to ask, what’s the real story? What happens behind the scenes?
But Jesus had nothing to hide. There was no scandal—no need for a coverup.
Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin (Heb 4:15).
Trust takes a lifetime to build and only a second to lose. The Bible promises, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Prov 10:9).
Your sins will find you out (Num 32:23). We need more high integrity leaders, like Jesus.