Opinions vary widely about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth, but regardless of our beliefs about him and what he means to us as individuals, few could dispute that he was a great leader. Born into an earthly family of humble means, during a time in which his people were widely disparaged and disregarded, he poured his life into a ragtag group of 12 mostly uneducated and nonreligious men who became the catalyst of a movement that changed the world. Jesus’ influence transcends religion, sweeping through our historical records as a man whose life and example have radically shaped education, art, science, morality, and society itself. Today, billions attest to his life-changing influence on a personal level. I have often said that the simplest definition of leadership is “follow-ship”. If you agree to this measure, then certainly Jesus would be ranked as a great leader in our world. How did he do it?
Christians say that he is God incarnate, so that would certainly give him an advantage in terms of authority and power. Yet the Jesus of the Bible led in ways that many, including the religious elite of his day, saw as contrary to an all-powerful god. Despite his rise to great fame during his life on earth, Jesus was known for his humility, service, sacrifice, and compassion. This “super leader” Jesus was obviously and sincerely interested in the well-being of others more so than himself. In fact, while people of his day were amazed by his miracles and astounded by his wisdom, I would suggest that possibly the most attractive aspect of Jesus as a leader – to people who knew him as a man 2,000 years ago, and to people who know him today – was and is his unrelenting attribution of value and worth to every individual. While rising to a level of great leadership and influence, the Jesus of scripture seemed always to passionately and personally care for everyone who followed him, and even those who didn’t.
So what might the life of Jesus have to say to leaders in the marketplace today? As we enter the Christmas season celebrating the birth of the one whom Christians deem their leader, perhaps it would be a good time to evaluate our own approach to leadership. To what extent do my actions reflect genuine care and concern for those I lead and influence? Is my bias toward the well-being of others, or toward my own best interests? If we follow the example of Jesus, then maybe we and our fellow “rag taggers” could be better tomorrow, together, than we are today.
On behalf of the employee-owners of Keller Schroeder, we wish you the best of holiday seasons and a wonderful new year!