The Team Building Philosophies of Jesus Christ (Part 1)
In this blog, I want to identify the amazing leadership skills of our Lord Jesus Christ. No other individual has had as great an impact on world history as He. As a Christian, I very much believe that the supernatural element of His ministry, both in His miracles and in His resurrection, made a life-changing difference in those who followed Him. But above all else, Christ came to communicate the Word of God to men. And when we consider that all of His preaching, miracle ministry, and substitutionary work of atonement were done in less than four years, it is all the more remarkable.
Before I introduce the first principle of His team building philosophy, I must say a word about the principle of release. When any leader releases a group of followers to their mission, the followers reciprocate by releasing their leader to His ultimate purpose. Christ released the apostles to the world as they released Him into the ministry that He has performed for almost 2,000 years.
Many believers fail to consider that Jesus Christ is still very active in ministry. He is the High Priest of the New Covenant, our Advocate with the Father, and Head of the Church. As Head of the Church, He continues to this day in the appointments and callings of every believer in the body - something that only an omniscient Christ could do.
We, as leaders, can learn from this example. We will never realize our highest callings until we learn to train and release others into their unique callings as helpers. When we also understand that they are working as to the Lord, we can boldly ask for commitment know that His rewards are far greater than anything we can give.
Christ as God emptied Himself (Philippians 2:7) in order that He might experience the human condition. The Incarnation was not just a necessity for the salvation of mankind; it was the first maneuver Christ made to assume an effective position for leadership. He identified with the people that He wanted to reach. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us...” John 1:14 NIV
When a leader puts himself in the position of feeling what his target audience feels, he makes himself vulnerable. There is the real possibility that he will be bruised and hurt in the experience. From His earliest moments on earth, Christ was made vulnerable. God could have stationed a garrison of angels round about His first house in Bethlehem, but because He was vulnerable, the baby Jesus had to be carried to Egypt to avoid Herod’s soldiers. To be an effective leader, you cannot isolate yourself from the people you wish to reach. Isolation destroys any bond you may ever wish to create. Your people must sense that you are one of them and understand completely what they experience.
Throughout my forty years of ministry, I have been a storyteller. Most of my stories are from my own experiences, particularly from my struggles. I am not the hero of the story, although most of my stories have a good ending. When I tell of my struggles, I establish a bond with my audience. I have dropped from the lofty perch many of them have ascribed to me and joined them in the miry pit of struggles that we all experience in life. Of course, I don’t want to leave them there, so I always end with a solution in one form or another.
This willingness to identify creates empathy - that passionate emotion that screams, “I know what you are feeling and I can identify with your struggle.” When a follower senses empathy from his leader, he binds himself to the cause. As Tim Keller has so wisely stated, “We don’t make friends; we discover them.” Human connections are more about a passionate commitment to the same things rather than friendship itself for the sake of friendship.
Good leaders not only create empathy in their sermons; they take the principle to the parking lot. When a church stations helpful people (not just friendly people) in all of its approaches, guests sense that someone is thinking about them. When they feel even more of it in the service, the connection is made even stronger.
For this reason, we have stripped away Christianese from all of our communications, especially in the services. We don’t want to communicate that we, in our advanced stages of Christian growth, are so far above our uninitiated audiences that they will never be able to relate to us.
The amazing thing about the empathy of Jesus Christ is that He could somehow make a connection with despicable publicans and sinners while never participating in a single sin. Pure and holy, yet able to identify with sinners, Christ is our model.