As the UK welcomes Theresa May into the top job at Number 10 (and she assembles her new team) I have been thinking this week about what makes a good leader.
We are all leaders of one kind or another. You do not have to run a country or a big organisation to be a leader. You might lead a group at church, you might be the leader in your home. Nearly all of us have the capacity to lead, and there are some good principles about leadership qualities in Psalm 15. However, I think the way Jesus lived His life gives us the best model of how to be a good leader.
Jesus wasn’t self-promoting
As leaders we can sometimes fall in to the trap of thinking we are better than others. Sadly some leaders have achieved their position by self-promotion and by dishonouring others on their way to the top. But Jesus never promoted Himself. He did not have to. His good works were so obvious that others talked about Him, and news about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee (Mark 1:28).
Jesus was all about relationships
Jesus knew how to assemble a good team, but unlike selecting a new Cabinet, He did not always pick people with experience and the right skills. The disciples were a mixed group of individuals from very different backgrounds. Jesus was more concerned about relationships and about releasing people into their full potential. True leadership should be relational, not transactional. In other words, leadership is not about what I can get from other people but about the relationships and the people I can develop. I believe a strong leader builds a good team in order to eventually release them to go into all the world (Mark 16:15).
Jesus knew who He was
Jesus knew who He was. He wasn’t threatened by others or insecure. We have to get our ultimate security from who we are in Christ, not in our job, in leadership, or our position in life.
Jesus wasn’t afraid of confrontation
Jesus wasn’t afraid to deal with issues as they came up. He confronted the Pharisees, and in one very famous scene, overthrew the merchants’ tables in the temple. As leaders, we should not be afraid to confront issues, but at the same time, we have to be discerning about the issues we do confront. It is easy to confront the wrong thing, so we need to know when to speak and when to remain silent.
Jesus knew when to stop talking.
When facing the toughest test of His life, standing before Pilate, Jesus did not speak. He was being confronted with vile, untrue allegations and was being mocked, but He chose to remain silent. Sometimes we feel the need to defend ourselves, and it is true that sometimes we do need to speak up and stand for what is right, but we must also learn when to remain silent. Sometimes saying nothing at all is the best thing we can do.
Jesus was compassionate
Jesus met many sick and dying and distressed people, and His heart was always filled with compassion for them. I think compassion has to ‘possess’ us. We need to feel compassion for those around us: dream it, live it, and experience compassion in all areas of our lives. It is easy to become hardened to the things we see around us, but Jesus’ life was all about compassion, about seeing the needs of people and releasing them into freedom.
The UK is in a time of unprecedented change, and with a new Prime Minister and Government in charge, we need to keep the leaders of our country in prayer. My personal prayer for Theresa May is that God would bless her and that He would enlarge her capacity for peace, compassion, care, love and mercy.
I pray that as the government leads our country into an unknown future, that God would give our leaders wisdom so that together, we can stand united once again.