The Leadership Style Of Jesus Christ
In the previous part of this series on the leadership style of Jesus Christ we looked at the instructions that Jesus gave Peter to ‘feed the lambs’, ‘shepherd the sheep’ and ‘feed the sheep’. We also saw that Jesus described Peter (rock) as the foundation of the church.
Let us now look at the reason for the three specific commands, as referred to in the previous paragraph. In his book Being A True Shepherd Leader, the author describes the functions of a shepherd in full. The book can be downloaded from his website http://www.shepherdleader.co.za.
In short, the feeding patterns of lambs differ from that of grown-up sheep. Remember that the flock of Jesus is spiritual by nature and responds to spiritual laws. Thus ‘lambs’ does not necessarily refer to babes, toddlers and children, but to the newly born children of God. Any pastor worth his salt will tell you that the spiritual needs of newly reborn children of God differ vastly from mature Christian.
The Bible highlights a distinct difference between the two. The following are just two of the Scriptures that point out these differences:
Heb 6:1-6 WEB Therefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection — not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, (2) of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (3) This will we do, if God permits. (4) For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, (5) and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, (6) and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame.
From this we understand that there is spiritual food for newly (re)born Christians, but there is an advanced spiritual diet for adult Christians. The Bible has more examples…
Heb 5:12-14 WEB For when by reason of the time you ought to be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food. (13) For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. (14) But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.
Here we see a distinct reference to those that are ‘young or new’ in the spirit, and those that have reached ‘spiritual maturity’. We also see that there is a difference between the food of a spiritual baby and a spiritual grownup. This was what our Lord was referring to when He distinguished between the feeding of His lambs and the feeding of His sheep.
When He spoke of the shepherding of His sheep, he was however referring to all the sheep collectively. This is easy to understand. Nobody becomes a ‘lamb farmer’ as such, as lambs cannot come into existence without adult sheep. Adult sheep on the other hand are deemed unproductive and slaughtered if they cannot reproduce. When Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd it had relevance on both adult sheep and lambs, and similarly the tending of His sheep (or shepherding as the Amplified Bible puts it, is for both adult sheep and lambs.
Christianity is experiencing a major crisis, brought about by the fact that the ‘ordinary Christian’ was deprived of his duties. The ‘organized Church’ created a situation where there are ‘workers’ and ‘pew-warmers’. The pastors are mostly loaded over capacity, to ensure that they deserve their wages. In most denominations the elders and deacons have perhaps one or two functions to fulfill, which in many cases is done without any or with hardly any passion. The rest of the congregation is left to stagnate.
A healthy sheep farmer however, will not allow the ewes and rams to lie in the shed all day, as they have a job to do. Apart from reproduction, they have to raise and protect the lambs. Why is it that the things that are so easy to understand in the natural realm appear so difficult in the spiritual realm?
Are spiritual things really that difficult to understand, or are we guilty of making them appear difficult?
When Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, He accused the Pharisees of doing just that.
Luke 11:52-54 GNB “How terrible for you teachers of the Law! You have kept the key that opens the door to the house of knowledge; you yourselves will not go in, and you stop those who are trying to go in!” (53) When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to criticize him bitterly and ask him questions about many things, (54) trying to lay traps for him and catch him saying something wrong.
Jesus did not accuse them of not teaching the people. What He was accusing them of, was teaching them the wrong stuff. Earlier in verse 46 He accuses them of laying heavy burdens on the people, and not even moving a finger to make the load better.
The problem with the ‘pew-warmers’ is not only that they are an unnecessary burden to the pastor, but also that they do not fulfill their leadership role as they are supposed to do, namely the feeding and tending of the lambs.
This is perhaps the part of the Christian walk where we miss the leadership style of Jesus Christ the most. Some authors are so keen on exploiting the ‘servant leader’ style, but they shy away from explaining what type of servant Jesus really was.
But what did Jesus say? He said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd’. He also said that if a shepherd (not a hireling) notices that one sheep had gone astray, he leaves the 99 in a safe place and goes after the one that got lost. Does this sound like the church of today? Do we bother with the lost sheep, or are we more concerned with the ones that can bring in a big tithe?
The author is not at all negative or aggressive towards the church. After all he also serves in a church, and has pastured several congregations. Thus when he writes these things, it is not meant to be degrading towards the church, and neither is it aimed at a specific denomination.
However, when God tells the prophet to sound a warning and he does not do so, the blood of those who perish spiritually will be upon his head, which is not what we want.
Ezekiel 3:17-19 WEB Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. (18) When I tell the wicked, You shall surely die; and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. (19) Yet if you warn the wicked, and he doesn’t turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
Also God requires that we impart His message just as we receive it with the same zeal and meaning.
1Co 14:8 WEB For if the trumpet gave an uncertain sound, who would prepare himself for war?
The problem that faces Christianity is not only that we do not apply the leadership style of Jesus Christ, but also that we do not teach it!
Dr Gerrit wrote a research doctoral thesis on the ‘leadership style of Jesus Christ’, and has a calling to teach the body of Christ to understand and apply Jesus’ leadership style, which he calls True Shepherd Leadership ©. His e-books Being A True Shepherd Leader and Traits Of A True Shepherd Leader can be downloaded from his website