The leadership development of Jesus is the most healthy and productive strategy known to man.
So what did Jesus teach his disciples about becoming leaders?
1. Leaders Do Not Focus on the Weaknesses of Those They Lead
When Jesus recruited his disciples to follow him, they were not the most polished group of men. (Jesus and His Motley Crew of Disciples) After the arrest of Jesus, his disciples did not show the character or skills of strong leaders. They did not seem to have the “advanced skills” needed to carry on the ministry of the Lord.
During the arrest of Jesus, the disciples ran away. (Matthew 26:56) One of the key leaders, Simon Peter denied that he even knew Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75) and after his crucifixion all the disciples locked themselves in a room to hide from the authorities. (John 20:24-31) This does not appear to be a group of well trained, ready to serve leaders!
Even after all of these events, Jesus returned after his resurrection to this same group. These seemingly weak followers of Christ were the very ones that he was determined to put in charge of his ongoing work and the expansion of the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 28:19-20)
2. Leaders Do Not Focus on the Failures of Those They Lead
The way that Jesus treated his disciples was a great lesson in how to handle the failure of those we lead.
Always remember this statement, “Failure is not an unforgivable sin.” Failure can be a tremendous lesson in the development of character. When his disciples failed it was not a means for Jesus to strike them off his list of possible leaders. It was evident in the ministry strategy of Jesus and the development of future leaders that he was not looking for perfect people.
What Christ looked for in the character of his followers was to find those who would be willing to be faithful. These same individuals would benefit and grow from his forgiveness as much as his training.
3. Leaders Encourage the Development of Those They Lead
The leadership development of Jesus gives some basic guidelines for those who are trying to encourage followers to grow as leaders. Here are four basic points of those leaders who are trying to grow other leaders:
- Be faithful to those you are leading even when they disappoint you.
- Help create an environment in which failure and shortcomings can be the fuel for positive growth.
- Give those you lead the freedom to fail. Failure in not desired but when it happens, allow it to be a time for personal development.
- Expect failure to be a part of growing leaders.
What we say about our own abilities can be disappointing. Our words and promises can be big and arrogant. They also can open us to absolute and utter failure, like what was said to Jesus before his crucifixion:
“Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.” (Matthew 26:35)
Not long after this statement, Simon Peter denied that he even knew the Lord at all. (Matthew 26:69-75)
Leadership development can teach strong lessons in failure and self-disappointment. Just remember, after the several mistakes and failures the disciples made, they became men who help change the world with the Gospel of the New Testament.
Jesus used failures to develop men of high character.
It is a wonderful principle to notice. Even when failure takes place it can be one of the greatest experiences of learning Failure can help prepare an individual for bigger things!