If we reduce Jesus to a practical model for leaders, we miss the essence of redemptive leadership.
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Do you ever wonder what the perfect picture of leadership would look like? The Bible makes it clear from the beginning—leadership is really God's idea. He ordains leaders to accomplish his will in this world. In Genesis 2, God places Adam in the Garden of Eden, giving him the responsibility to care for it.
Adam was the leader of the Garden, exercising the creativity, care, and authority of God in that realm. It's a picture of God's call for every person. We lead wherever God places us, and we reflect the character of God in the process. Simply put, we're called by God to influence our world in such a manner that those around us can come to know who he is.
However, Adam's sin marred this high calling of leadership, and it became a means for manipulation and self-justification. Too often we use our leadership to get others to do what we want them to do. Or we use our leadership to reassure ourselves that we are worthy to lead. We're left in this uninspiring posture, asking a desperate question: as Christians, how might we better understand and practice godly leadership?
We must begin by looking to Jesus Christ. He redeems us and provides a true picture of godly leadership. In Matthew 20:26-28, he tells his disciples:
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
As the Redeemer-Leader, Jesus is undeniably revolutionary—a leader who delights in serving rather than being served. Consider both fallen leadership and the redemptive leadership modeled by Jesus. The contrast is stark. When we practice fallen leadership, we seek to "lord it over" those who follow us. But redemptive leadership serves those we lead. Fallen leadership focuses on control and power. Redemptive leadership pursues authority through humility. At home or at work, when we lead with humility, we reflect our Savior's redemptive leadership.
But Jesus did not sacrifice his life just to provide an example of good leadership. If we reduce Jesus to a practical model for business leaders, we miss the essence of redemptive leadership. Jesus came to rescue us from our greatest plight - sin. Without Jesus' atoning work to "give his life as a ransom for many," our leadership remains mired in sinful motivation, selfish gain, and futility. In saving us from sin, Jesus also restores leadership as a means of God's grace and kindness to the world.
For this reason, the practice of Christian leadership begins with worship to the Savior who calls us to join him in redeeming the world around us. And he sets us free to do this through our daily work and our daily relationships.
Andre Yee has worked as an executive in the technology sector for over fifteen years. He was recognized as one of InfoWorld's Innovators to Watch for 2006. Andre is passionate about business, his family and theology, not necessarily in that order. He is happily married to Kathy and grateful for their three children—Kirsten, Michael and Stephen.
Reprinted with permission from the original article "Redemptive Leadership" at TheHighCalling.org. All rights reserved.
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