Who was the greatest leader in history? Think for a moment before answering. Dwight Eisenhower? He led the Allies’ invasion of Europe and, if that were not enough, served two terms as US president during a period of America's greatest relative power in the world. He’d have to be up there somewhere, wouldn’t he? Maybe you'd look to a thought leader—someone like the great British philosopher John Locke, who profoundly changed the way we view individual liberty? Or does someone from the business world jump out at you? Steve Jobs or Sir Richard Branson? Or a visionary artist like Picasso or Rembrandt? A sporting hero like Cathy Freeman, a scientist like Nicolaus Copernicus or a civil rights leader like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr?
They are all remarkable leaders.
But oddly enough, none of them, or anyone else in human history for that matter, has come close to matching the profound influence of a poor Carpenter from an obscure province of the Roman Empire whose capital was destined for complete annihilation shortly after His death. He never wrote a book, painted a picture, invented any gizmos or made any money. He never won an election, a race or a prize of any kind. No hit songs. No TV appearances. No magazine covers or name in lights.
If there's one person who, by any normal reckoning, should not be a leader, it's Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And yet today, 2.2 billion people say they follow Him. And the world is full of hospitals, schools, universities, charitable endeavours of every kind and churches of every shape and size dedicated to Him. If there's one example of what it means to be a leader, it isn’t Steve Jobs or Dwight Eisenhower, it's Jesus Christ. And it's not just the power of His leadership but the destination in which He takes His followers that makes Him incomparable in the annals of leadership history.
What can we learn from Him about who we need to be as we aim to use our influence in a God-honouring way?
This is a critical question as it shifts our attention from “doing” and “having” to “being”. Our natural tendency in approaching strategic planning is to ask “what must be done?” and “do we have the resources?” Both are important questions but the key to unlocking the right answers is in the “who do I need to be?” so that I can identify the resources and eventually do what needs to be accomplished.
Imagine if we as leaders committed to becoming available to God fully to make us into the leaders He wants us to be? How would that look? How would we look? If we humbled our hearts and let the Holy Spirit mould our characters into a reflection of the greatest Leader in history, what would we be able to accomplish as individuals, within our families and within our churches?
That's the dream that energises me and gives me direction for the future in my role as our Division’s ministerial secretary. It's my dream that every single one of our pastors—and our lay leaders too—will follow the example of Jesus and lead with power, compassion, intelligence and complete humility. To do that, it's my goal to be that kind of leader myself, and in the role in which I serve, to cultivate competent pastors who are connected, committed, contributing and commissioning.
I hope that together as a team we can dream this dream and pray for the Holy Spirit to work on all of us to bring it to fruition.
No dream comes into existence unless there is intentionality and focus. Thus, I am committed to cultivating this dream, to focus on it and to channel my time and resources in a strategic manner. It’s like a field that needs cultivating to ensure the right crop grows. I am committing to be the kind of leader who will cultivate and help you cultivate pastoral teams that are:
Leadership is all about relationships. It does not happen in a vacuum. We cannot lead unless we are connected. First and foremost we are connected to God, being aware of and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The life and ministry of Jesus becomes our passion and model. We are practising disciplines that best connect us with the One who has called us and who sends us. We are also connected to the community we serve. Further, we are connected to our families in a meaningful way. Our spouses and children are the primary recipients of the gifts God has given to us. Finally, we are also connected with the Church organisation and its leadership. This is the context in which our ministry happens and we become active participants in it.
Connection must progress to a tangible commitment. I become a leader on whom others can count. I am committed to God, to His church, to His people. I am committed to the commission I have received and will discharge my responsibilities with a passion that reflects God’s passion for humanity in giving His Son Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice. While we know and fully understand that the human structures and organisational expressions are imperfect, we nevertheless commit to being agents of positive influence, always constructive even in our criticism. The people we work with must know they can count on us.
Our commitment then translates into specific outcomes that are SMARTER: Simple, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, Time-sensitive, Ecological (taking into account the environment in which we function) and Resourced. So the dream does not remain a dream; it becomes something we are pursuing with passion and which becomes a tangible reality. As contributors, we can look back at every day and see we have made progress. We can look back at the last month and see we have moved towards the dream. We can look back at the past year and know we have made a difference. Ultimately, we have contributed to the health and growth of those under our care, to the functioning of our churches and communities.
Using the example of Jesus, we are acutely aware that our main role is to be multiplying disciples. Yes, we respond to God’s commissioning for us, but then we are actively involved in commissioning others, deploying their passions, gifts and talents in kingdom-building and movement-creating. Our contribution is not measured by how busy we are but on how many we have equipped and trained, mentored and encouraged. No matter what roles we have, we can always have two or three individuals we are personally commissioning for kingdom work.
As we look forward we have choices to make. We all want to be as effective as we can be with the talents God has entrusted to us. There is no-one in history who has come close to doing more with less than Jesus Christ. He shows us what we can do when we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives and turn us into powerful leaders for God. I choose to follow His example and in my role it’s my goal to urge every one of you to do the same by cultivating competent pastors/leaders who are connected, committed, contributing and commissioning. My dream is that as a result there will be many more disciples who are creating a movement that is responding to God’s commission to call all people to become disciples of Jesus Christ, to proclaim the everlasting gospel and to prepare the world for His soon return.
Dr Branimir Schubert is ministerial secretary for the South Pacific Division