So much is said [and written] about leadership. All questions are answered, it seems. How should you lead? What are the requirements to be a successful leader? How should a leader handle his/her followers? What are the better leadership styles? Everyone knows how to delegate, discipline, and develop your followers. We are also taught how to determine and use vision, mission, motivation and the like. In general, we live in times where the science of leadership, in all aspects has been thoroughly covered. Or has it?
I have often queried the fact that leadership gurus feel so secure in their statement that a ‘one best leadership style’ does not exist. How can they make such a statement when they have not properly researched the leadership style of the most important leader of all times? In my thesis and subsequent series of books on True Shepherd Leadership, I provide much evidence that a best leadership style does in fact exist, and that Christians are in fact instructed to apply the same leadership style. It is not as if we received a hint, pointing to the fact that if all else failed, we could perhaps consider this as a last resort, or handy alternative. We are admonished to go and do as Jesus did. We were supposed to lead according to the style that Jesus described and exhibited. We are supposed to be True Shepherd Leaders according to the example of Jesus.
Questions that need to be answered are: [a] How did Jesus lead, and [b] how do we know that it is the best leadership style?
Let us start with the second question, which to my mind is the easiest to answer. How can we say that the True Shepherd Leadership style, [the leadership style of Jesus Christ] is the best of all leadership styles? My suggestion to the doubtful ones is always to answer the following two easy questions: [i] Was Jesus in fact the most important leader ever on this earth, and [ii] would Jesus [being the Son of God] use an inferior leadership style, considering that He had all knowledge from eternal past to eternal future at His avail?
Beginning with the first question, all you need do is go to your local newspaper to prove that in fact Jesus is the most important leader ever. How does the newspaper prove this? Look at the date. It declares that today, [whatever the date], came up a certain number of years, months and days after the birth of Jesus. Wonderful is it not? Your calendar, diary, newspaper and magazines all witness to the existence of Jesus. Now, how many newspapers have you seen dated from the birth of Hitler, Kennedy, or Napoleon? If somebody had been printing such dates on papers, I have not seen any. I will not spend any more space to prove that Jesus is the world’s most important leader ever, but if you disagree, do some research yourself on who had the greatest influence on the human race ever, and I am confident you will also come to the same conclusion.
Secondly, how do we prove that Jesus applied the best ever leadership style? Answer this: Why would the Son of God, who had foreknowledge of everything from the beginning of the earth, NOT utilize the best leadership style available? In all honesty, I have not heard any worthwhile argument against Jesus exercising the best leadership style.
But, for the sake of the doubtful ones, let us think this over. The eternal all-knowing God provided mankind with a complete and perfect redemption plan. This plan was not only perfectly planned, but also perfectly timed. Making a study of God’s redemption plan, you cannot but stand in awe. Everything was so perfectly planned, and nothing was left to coincidence. You can look at many examples, such as for instance crucifixion as mode of capital punishment, or the total eclipse of the sun after Jesus’ death. Jesus’ crucifixion was foretold by prophets hundreds of years before. The words that Jesus uttered on the cross are recorded in the book of Psalms. There are so many facts making up the totality of the redemption plan, that it is unthinkable that God would have left anything to chance.
Why then, would He not have specifically designed and planned the leadership style of Jesus in the same meticulous manner? Jesus’ leadership style would have been perfectly planned as everything else, and therefore I cannot be convinced that He made use of a leadership style which was anything but the best.
Returning to the first part, namely what was the leadership style of Jesus really like, let us consider a few facts. Jesus [again without coincidence] came to earth in a time when farming [and especially sheep farming] was well-known and widely practiced. If a person came to any local school today and started talking about the behaviour of mountain sheep, chances are that no child in the school would have any knowledge about it. Not so in Jesus’ time however. Sheep, sheep farming, and the behaviour of sheep were well known. Sheep farming were part of the community.
Hence, unlike today, when Jesus declared I am the Good Shepherd, His audience knew exactly what He was referring to. They knew sheep, and they knew shepherds. They knew what good shepherds would be doing well and what poor shepherds would be doing wrong. They knew about wolves, lions, and other dangers that threatened sheep. They also knew that there were people out there that pretended to be real shepherds, but who were actually only doing the job of a shepherd for the money they could make out of it. However, as soon as any danger threatened, their loyalty to their own bank accounts showed, as did their disloyalty to the sheep.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Perfect Shepherd. He is The Shepherd of all shepherds. Jesus knows about the needs of sheep as well as the needs of shepherds. He is the only person to have lived both in heaven and on earth, and having experienced the personal presence of God as well as the physical hardships of mankind. Jesus is the only person worthy of being given the title of Good Shepherd.
And when Jesus spoke to His disciples on this subject, and wanted to teach them how they should behave towards their followers when they take over the flock after He went back to His Father, He began by describing it in two well-known sentences, namely: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 KJV)
Is there such a thing as a best leadership style? I believe there is. It is the leadership style of Jesus Christ, which I call True Shepherd Leadership.
Dr. Gerrit van Vuuren has more than twenty five years of experience as soft skills and management trainer, counselor and life coach. He holds a Masters Degree (M.Sc) in Human Resources Development, a Doctoral (PhD) in Systematic Theology, specializing in Leadership, and another Doctoral (D.Th) in Biblical Counseling.
Dr Gerrit is very popular as guest speaker, motivational trainer, and seminar leader. He has the ability to not only hold the attention of his audience, but to leave a positive and lasting impression on the life of all his clients.
Dr Gerrit can be contacted though email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on his mobile number +2784 083 1736
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