Leadership (Matthew 11:1)

Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash

Jesus has just commissioned his twelve disciples to their first short-term mission trip. The charge He gave them is certainly not for the faint-hearted: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Fortunately, Jesus does more than just send out His disciples. Jesus Himself also goes out. Matthew 11 begins, “After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.” It seems like an off-hand comment from the narrator, but it is a key statement in understanding Jesus’ leadership. For as in everything He taught, Jesus first models the appropriate behavior, then teaches it, then commissions others to do likewise. But His leadership does not end there. Jesus also participates in the task with the disciples He just commissioned. 

We do well to learn from His example.

Those we lead need to know we are not just competent, but proficient. Proficiency is demonstrated in modelling the behavior we are teaching, so that those we teach can see and know that we have something worth learning. Leadership without proficiency is like policy without common sense – something everyone knows is disastrous. Without modelling what we are teaching, leadership is only a function of position. 

Those we lead also need to know the pragmatic reality of how to do what we are teaching. That is provided in the actual verbal communication, which re-enforces the lesson modelled. Leadership, like so much of life, is contingent on good communication. In His communication, Jesus consistently used real-life examples and the direct application of God’s Word to present circumstance.   

Leaders also provide a clear mandate. Jesus gave that in two parts. There is His charge to go, which imparts a clear mental picture of what to do, where to do it and when/how long. But there is also the impartation of the spiritual authority to do it, which Jesus gave them even before the verbal charge at the beginning of the prior chapter, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” 

Finally, those we lead need assurance that they are not being left on their own. To that point Jesus goes out with the disciples, joining them on the same mission He charged them with. They can know that He is close, and that He is experiencing everything they are experiencing. This gives them – and us – courage and hope. 

Our leader is not only competent and proficient, He is nearby.

A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way.

Leonard Ravenhill

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Jesus’ leadership model included commissioning, impartation of authority, clear mandates and modelling proficiency. Let us strive to do likewise!