How do you train and encourage leaders in your organization, business or congregation? The leadership development of Jesus of Nazareth is the most healthy and productive strategy known to man. So what did Jesus teach his disciples about becoming leaders?
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! Yet, 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)
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 obvious 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.
The leadership development of Jesus gives some basic guidelines for all those who are trying to encourage followers to grow into 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 of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene.
Jesus used failures to develop men of strong character. It is a wonderful principle to notice. Even when failure takes place it can be one of the greatest experiences of learning that can help prepare an individual for bigger things!