How Would Jesus Lead?
- Stacy Hawkins Adams Contributing Writer
- 2006 7 Feb
Whether you have a prestigious title or none at all, if you influence someone around you, you are a leader.
Are you a Christian who leads with your hands or your heart?
In their newly-released book, Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges ask those critical questions.
They assert that the methods adopted by Christians - in the workplace, the community and at home - will have a lasting impact. That means it is vital for followers of the Master Teacher to model the leadership skills he practiced during his earthly ministry.
“Jesus told his disciples if they wanted to lead, they first had to follow,” said Blanchard, a renowned business consultant and the best-selling author of the One Minute Manager and other titles. “It seems a pretty clear mandate.
“If we could get Christians to lead like Jesus, their demonstration of that would be to millions. People would begin to wonder what Christianity was all about.”
Blanchard had that revelation nearly a decade ago, during a leadership exercise with 2,500 pastors from across the country. As the ministers took turns sharing details about their leadership styles, Blanchard was struck by how few referenced Jesus.
Just 10 in the group mentioned Christ, and only another 20 said they practiced servant leadership, he said.
Out of the experience was born The Center for Faithwalk Leadership, an Augusta, Ga.- based nonprofit ministry which now does business as Lead Like Jesus.
Blanchard established the ministry with Hodges, a college friend who led him to Christ in the 1980s. Hodges worked as a manager in corporate America manager for several decades before becoming a consultant with Blanchard’s training company and co-authoring several books with Blanchard.
Since 2003, Blanchard has co-hosted Lead Like Jesus Celebrations with ministry leaders such as Rick Warren, John Ortberg and Henry Blackaby in five U.S. cities – Birmingham, Ala., Spartanburg, S.C., Louisville, Ky., Pittsburg, Pa. and Richmond, Va.
In addition to the nearly 11,000 attendees at the events, more than 1,500 churches have participated via satellite, said Betty Surrency, spokeswoman for Lead Like Jesus.
The day-long sessions include speeches by nationally-known figures who follow Christ’s example in their careers, as well as local business or community leaders who practice the Master Teacher’s servant leadership model.
After each event, Blanchard and others have returned to the cities to conduct smaller sessions called Leadership Encounter Seminars, with ministry leaders. Churches worldwide use the Lead Like Jesus workbooks and materials to train their church leaders.
For Blanchard and Hodges, a book outlining the Lead Like Jesus principles was the next logical step.
“This book is the culmination of what Phil and I have been given by the Lord,” Blanchard said.
It contains biblically-based, practical advice on why and how to turn one’s opportunity to lead into an opportunity to serve.
While encouraging Christians to use their hearts, heads and habits, along with their hands, to mirror Jesus’ style, the authors highlight the difference between a good and bad “EGO.”
Hands-first leaders abide by traditional, competitive business practices in which their needs come first. Inevitably, they wind up “edging God out.”
Heart-focused leaders concentrate on elevating the people they influence at home, at work and in their communities. Their goal is to “exalt God only” in all they do.
The authors stress that leadership comes in various forms and that each is important, from the boardroom to the family room. The key is to mesh that influence, whether over one’s children or a multi-billion dollar corporation, with compassion.
Now, more than ever, Christians need to practice such grace, Hodges said.
“Pick up the newspaper and you’ll know why now. In any section you’ll find egos out of control, leaders who bring attention to themselves and exploit opportunities to do good.
“We do need something to trust,” Hodges said. “Jesus is someone to trust as a leadership model.”
And contrary to what some believe, the pair says, leading like Jesus isn’t for the fainthearted.
“When people say this sounds like soft leadership, how come these are all leaders nobody can catch?” Blanchard said, as he cited examples.
They include S. Truett Cathy, the Chick-Fil-A founder who owns more than 1,200 restaurants across the nation and has a mere 2 to 3 percent turnover rate company-wide.
There’s also C. William Pollard, chairman of the $3 billion ServiceMaster Company, whose publicized, number one value is for employees to honor God in everything they do.
“All you have to do is behave like Jesus and let the Holy Spirit take over,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard and Hodges hope their Lead Like Jesus seminars and similarly-titled books are inspiring a movement among people at all levels of leadership to embrace the biblical call to lead like Jesus.
“It is a mandate, not a philosophy,” Hodges said. “It’s the love of Christ in action. It requires (creating) a different kind of bottom line – results and relationships.”
Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time can be purchased at a bookstore near you. For more information, visit www.leadlikejesus.com.
Stacy Hawkins Adams is the author of the Christian fiction novel Speak To My Heart. She is also a reporter and inspirational columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia. Stacy often speaks to audiences about the blessings that come with authentically living one's faith. Visit her blog page here and her website here.