Ultimately, leadership is sacrifice.
The size of a leader is often measured by the amount of sacrifice given for the benefit of his or her followers. Jesus meets this standard in a way no one else ever has because He sacrificed Himself for us. He came and died on the cross for our sins so that we could be made holy and join Him in heaven. Nowhere else throughout the Gospel of Matthew is this more clear than when Jesus is giving a prayer of Thanksgiving: “Come to me, all of you where are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” This is something very different than the things at that time.
Throughout most of Jewish history political leaders put more and more burdens on the people. Even religious leaders at that time put burdens on the people telling them religion was about laws and laws on top of the laws that they needed to follow to be holy and go to heaven. Yet, here is a man with no official title offering to give the people rest if they would only bring their burdens to Him. Jesus was here to serve through sacrifice, to carry the load they could not carry on their own. Billy Graham hammers this point home when he writes, “Jesus, by example, tells us that every true leader should be a helper, a servant, or even a bondslave. This is a command, not a suggestion, and applies with special force to leaders.”
Now that we know Jesus is a leader who teaches, equips, and serves through sacrifice we need to see how that applies to our lives. What are we to do (regardless if we are a Christian or not) in response to the fact that Jesus works hard to teach, equip others to carry on ministry, and serves us through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross? How do we respond to that in a way that honors Him and teaches, equips, and serves others through sacrifice? For me personally, I seek to teach others just as Jesus did through my blog where I post articles six days a week. While at work at United Way, I have worked hard to equip a new co-worker in our department on how to fundraise efficiently from companies in our area. And I serve through sacrifice with my girlfriend, Jen, by seeking to meet her needs of love, respect, and time on a daily basis. None of these are easy, but when it comes to following Jesus as a teacher, equipper, and a servant through sacrifice, it calls for a strong person dedicated to that process.
Because Jesus sacrificed for us, the least we can do is return the favor by doing the same things He did to teach, equip, and serve others through sacrifice.
Graham, Billy, The Holy Spirit. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1978.
Hauer, Christian A., and William A. Young. An Introduction to the Bible. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.
Hiebert, Dr. D. Edmond “Jesus the Master Teacher,” In Called to Teach, edited by David Ewert, 21-37. Fresno, CA: Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, 1980.
Hutchison, John C. “Servanthood: Jesus’ Countercultural Call to Christian Leaders,” Bibliotheca Sacra 166 (January-March 2009): 53-69.
Maxwell, John C. The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.
Smillie, Gene R. “Jesus’ Response to the Question of His Authority in Matthew 21,” Bibliotheca Sacra 162 (October-December 2005): 459-469.
Swindoll, Charles R. The Living Insights Study Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.