Serving the Home Team

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Default image

Throughout His ministry, Jesus was a role model for leadership. He brought together a motley band of hotheads and momma’s boys and created an institution that thrives more than 2,000 years after he left its day-to-day leadership.

Do you think Martha Stewart will be able to say the same?

What is the key to Jesus’ success? Studying the example of Jesus should guide us in making our own leadership more effective. I heard a speaker recently state that the hallmark of Jesus’ leadership was his intentionality (a great word if you want to sound smart in business meetings) about giving his listeners a “home-court” advantage. Jesus didn’t expect the people to come to him. He met them where they were.

Luke’s telling of Jesus’ meeting with the tax collector Zaccheus illustrates that approach.

Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." (Luke 19:3-5)

Jesus didn’t wait for Zaccheus to join a Bible study before He would minister to him. He didn’t ask him to come forward for prayer during a synagogue service. Jesus “came to the place” where Zaccheus was. He took it one step further by inviting Himself to Zaccheus’ home.

Jesus used that technique repeatedly in his ministry, whether it was meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), visiting the home of the sick girl (Luke 8), or even meeting the disciples in the workplace–on their boats (Luke 5). He would have gone to the Roman centurion’s home to heal his slave, had the soldier not objected, recognizing Jesus’ ability to do ministry long-distance. Jesus didn’t need to physically visit every person to whom he ministered. But he usually did in order to demonstrate his concern for their needs.

What are the implications for our leadership? Understand that we show respect to others by meeting them on their terms, not ours. The managing-by-intimidation bosses may recommend making a subordinate come to you. But what a powerful message you send other workers when you leave the security of your desk and go to them. We honor our team’s time and value when we acknowledge them this way.

And going to those you lead doesn’t just mean meeting them physically. Following the example of Jesus, we see that effective leaders take the time to explore what people are thinking, what emotions they are experiencing, and especially what their spiritual needs are. Effective leadership–the kind demonstrated by Jesus–means taking the time to serve others.

There are a number of tangible ways to do this. Take a coworker to lunch, and don’t bother to put it on your expenses. Send a card or note to acknowledge a job well done. Offer to cover for a colleague who clearly has a lot on his plate. And always find a way to share an encouraging word.

But I would draw the line at inviting yourself to his or her house for dinner. It takes a special leader to pull that off.