Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
What is a Leader?
Leadership is still a thing that many have a wrong idea of, I believe because leadership is so closely related to power. We imagine the leader, the one in power, as calling the shots and moving people around like pawns in order to accomplish his own aim. While some use leadership in this manner, it is actually a view that is anti-Christ. In other words: THAT’S NOT LEADERSHIP! What it is, is manipulation. Jesus, the fullness of The Triune God Incarnate, The King of Kings and LORD of Lords, is the example of a true leader. The closer we come to imitating Him, the closer we are to being an embodiment of a true leader. So, how did He lead? Let’s look at his call for others to follow Him as a leader, shall we? (If you’re answer to that question is “no” then why are you still reading?)
One Who is Worth Following:
“Follow Me…” First is the obvious. Jesus is calling others to follow Him, thus asserting that He has a right to lead them. This is actually a bold statement for anyone to make as it asserts that the one accepting the responsibility to lead knows where he/she is going and is confident enough to think that others should throw in their lot with his/her cause. That’s no small claim, especially in Jesus’ day. For the fishermen that he was calling to become followers, it meant walking away from their life sustaining vocations. Imagine me telling you to drop what you’re doing right now, leave your current vocation, and devote your life to my cause. Pretty bold assertion, no? Jesus made the bold claim of being a leader that others should follow.
One Who Serves Those who Follow:
So far, it seems that’s still fairly in line with the perspective that I said was antithetical to Jesus; but this is where the similarity stops. The crux of it all is in the second half of His call for followers: “… and I will make you fishers of men.” This is the profound difference between the way Jesus leads and the way those of the world lead. Later, Jesus would tell His disciples that if you want to be the greatest of all then you must be a servant of all (Matthew 23:11), and He exemplified this by washing the filthy feet of those He lead (John 13:1-17). Jesus exemplified servant-leadership long before it was a buzz-word. This service isn’t merely a role reversal; it is not Jesus fulfilling the beck and call of those who follow Him, as Wesley (the slave boy) would respond, “As you wish.” to Buttercup. Not in the least. The servant-leadership Jesus exemplified was much deeper and more potent than that. The thing that makes the difference is the motive, or aim, behind it all. Jesus called others to follow Him because of what He could make them. It wasn’t about rallying troops for a bloody conquest that He would emerge the sole benefactor from (them getting rewards contingent upon the degree that they participated in making Him successful). Yes, He had an aim, but it was an aim that was the benefit of others. His success would mean His death, thus those who followed Him would find success in death as well. It wasn’t a glamorous pursuit, but it was one that would benefit the life of every individual who adopted it. Jesus called others to follow Him because it was BEST FOR THEM, not Him. And in this manner, He serves those He leads. Through His teaching, His followers could become more. There are men who wish to lead to be in the spotlight, and then there are others who wish to lead to help others reach the limelight. They lead because they have a vision of something far greater than themselves – a vision where all those who adopt it will find greater fulfillment and accomplishment – and so they lead others by helping them rise.
One Who has Opposition:
Sometimes leaders begin at the bottom, getting people to catch the vision of something far greater. Because of this, there will be some who mistake their leadership for arrogance; they just don’t get it. There will be some who see a leader make a call as Paul, “Follow me as I follow The LORD.” (I Corinthians 11:1) and will huff at the individual assuming they are merely longing for more power or influence in the goal of self-aggrandizement. Nay sayers will always be mingled among the group. Don’t let this keep you from leading, for if you do then you cease to actually serve those you say you can help and, by default, cease being a Christ-like leader.
A leader pours himself/herself into the lives of others. He/She is spent in order to help those who follow more full! Let us lead like Jesus.