Lead Like Jesus

As we continue to delve into The Navigators Vision, we learn more about characteristics of Christian leadership: “The leaders of this movement, developed and empowered for God’s service, live out a growing commitment to Christlikeness. They are dependent upon the Holy Spirit.” 
Tom Bourke, associate field director for The Navigators, is a friend who has made a lifelong study of leadership. He is an excellent leader himself and constantly looks for lessons from other leaders. He writes them down in a little book. He’s collected a ton of principles over the years, and it’s been a privilege to watch as God has blessed and increased his influence as he diligently puts these principles into practice.
Tom identifies four central functions of leadership: directing, managing, caring, and developing. Some leaders are stronger in certain areas and weaker at others; that’s why leaders should work together. The way I see it, it’s never a good idea to have one single leader. The thoughts below are mainly Tom’s and shared with his permission, yet they are filtered through my own leadership lens.
Directors cast vision and provide inspiration. They bring compelling clarity of purpose. Such a leader provides fresh “restatements” of what we’re called to by God. A director is usually a big-picture person. He or she helps people to avoid getting lost in the small tasks and to remember the ultimate objectives.
Managers excel at turning strategy into plans and systems. This person’s ideal role is overseeing effectiveness in the vision becoming reality. A person who leads out of the manager function works to coordinate and communicate the important details and will ensure that structures serve and work well. A manager is important to facilitating collaboration and teamwork.
Caring leaders, sometimes called shepherds, look out for people through protection, healing, and restoration. This type of leader uniquely helps a team and the individuals on a team with pace, fit, and fulfillment. He or she increases capacities by affirming, correcting, resourcing, and rejuvenating. Such a leader strengthens and encourages.
Developers help others grow and live into their potential through personal investment in their lives. This means investing in those who are investing in others. The developer helps people find their optimized fit and maximize their contribution. They resource people and ensure that we are not merely using but empowering people.
As the gospel moves into the nations, this movement will need all four kinds of leaders. Since you are reading this, it is likely that you are a leader in one or more of these ways. This is true whether or not you are in an organizational leadership role. No one needs a special title to help lead the advance of the gospel through spiritual generations of Kingdom-workers who live and disciple among those who don’t know Jesus.
“Your function and contribution is more important than your title,” said Lorne Sanny, Dawson Trotman’s hand-picked successor as president of The Navigators. “The title provides handy identification, but the function is all-important. Currently my position is that of president, but my job is to serve. When the day comes that I no longer have the position, I will still have the job.”
The Kingdom-workers advancing the gospel are primarily servants who lead. The Master Himself put it this way to His followers:

“You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42–45, NLT).
The Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of the servant leader’s development and empowerment. That is why we emphasize that our leaders depend upon the Holy Spirit. Their first commitment is a commitment to know, love, and become like Jesus. Everything else flows out of that relationship.
The leader’s commitment to lead like Jesus is essential. In the words of our vision statement, such leaders “live out a growing commitment to Christlikeness.” All real and lasting influence flows out of this relational connection with Jesus. As we become like Him, we will reflect the way He lived, the ways He related to people, and, most important, the ways He served. We will be leaders who move the gospel in to the nation not just with words, but with our very lives.
For Your Consideration:
  • What does it look like for you to be “dependent upon the Holy Spirit” as you walk through everyday life and minister to others?
  • Review the four types of leaders. In which area(s) are you strongest? What is your weakest area? Do you know anyone who is strong in that area and could partner with you as you lead?
  • In our zeal to advance the God’s Kingdom, we can easily begin to focus on how the people around us can help us reach our ministry goals. How can we remember that our job is to serve? List three ways you could serve someone this week.

Al Engler is the director of Navigators Neighbors. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction.