A Great Leader

As seen in the HEARTbeat and Village Voice

“A Great Leader”


            What does is take to be a great leader?  Must this person have great orator skills?  Does this person need to be handsome or beautiful?  Some studies have even showed height to be a positive attribute when voting for presidents.  Three of our more famous presidents, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and John F. Kennedy were 6’4”, 6’2”, and 6’1” respectively.  Physical attributes, whether we admit it or not, play a role in our choice of leaders.

            Empathy plays a role in making great leaders as well.  Two very famous military leaders, Gen. Norman Shwarzkopf and Gen. George S. Patton had very similar leadership styles in some respects.  Both were very empathic to the lowest ranking soldiers under their command, so much so they would visit them and ask their opinion of how things could be made better.  Gen. Patton is noted with a great leadership phrase: “Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity!”  In a nutshell, this is empowerment.

            I’ve studied leadership for several years and have made a not-so-surprising discovery.  If you take the attributes of the most successful leaders in the modern era, you can liken those attributes to those of Jesus.  If we take a model called the “West Point Way” and compare it to Jesus, we can easily see why I make this statement.

            There are six attributes the model discusses:  ethics, communication, teamwork, delegation, planning, and failure.  If we examined each of these important leadership characteristics closely, we could draw perfect examples from the Bible as to how Jesus used each one to form one of the most famous and most effective teams in history – the Apostles.  Jesus taught them through parables, gave them authority to heal and drive out demons, and pulled them together as a cohesive team (even though there was a little bit of squabbling!).

            There is an aspect of leadership that is vitally important, and every leader must exude to have a following.  The saying goes, “Employees don’t care how much you know until you know how much you care.”  Personal sacrifices by leaders to the benefit of the employees is something not many leaders are willing to do.  Some leaders look down on the “little people,” never actually interacting with them.  The only time the employees see the boss is when they walk past his or her picture in the lobby of the business.

            What would you be willing to give up to make sure the people you are responsible for know you care?  Would you give up salary, a prestigious office, or maybe your position?  Even though Jesus didn’t draw a salary, He gave up these and much more to be an effective leader, up to and including His life.

            Jesus died to self, something we all must do to gain eternal life.  Jesus took on the sins, not just of the twelve, but of the whole world so all His followers could have what He has – the riches in Heaven with the Father forever.

            To be a great leader, turn to the life of Jesus and learn from greatest leader in all of history!

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