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Leadership Styles Of Jesus Christ And Paul Religion Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

This essay will examine the theoretical concepts of leadership, showing their strengths and weaknesses. The leadership styles of Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul will be discussed followed by the leadership qualities expected from the church as illustrated by the five-fold ministry found in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians Chapter 4. The leadership qualities expected in change management, communicating vision and handling or dealing with oppositions shall be examined.

Nevertheless, most people believe that leadership means to occupy an exalted position that commands authority over others. Typical is the request by the mother of Zebedee’s children to Jesus Christ in Matthew Chapter 20 verses 20 and 21. Salome sought that Jesus will grant that her two sons take positions; one on the left and the other on the right hand of Jesus in His kingdom. Jesus confirmed that this is the manner of leadership found in the world, where “…the princes of the gentiles exercise dominion over them and they exercise great authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you…”. [1] Wright inferred that with this concept of leadership, only the few people occupying positions of authority and responsibility could be referred to as leaders and not every Christian. [2] 

Jesus advocated that leaders should serve rather than being served [3] . This concept focuses on what we do; as in service to God and to others as opposed to merely occupying positions. Paul, when writing to the Galatians instructs us that, “…by love serve one another” [4] . God’s intention demonstrated by the blessing of Genesis Chapter 1 verse 28 shows that all humans have the right to lead and we need not occupy any position to do that. Wright again explained that “if by leader we mean a person who enters into a relationship with another person to influence their behaviour, values or attitudes, then I would suggest that all Christians should be leaders”. [5] 

Damazio in his book reveals the danger the church faces today as scriptural principles laid in God’s word are being replaced with business principles thus making the church to run as business corporations rather than as New Testament organisations. Members hardly comprehend the truth of the word of God. Biblical prerequisite into leadership position demanding holiness, Holy Ghost in-filling, integrity and godly wisdom have gradually been replaced with academic scholarship hence robbing the church of its spiritual life and vitality [6] . The church is gradually going the way Paul describes as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”. [7] 

LEADERSHIP STYLEs OF JESUS CHRIST and APOSTLE paul – COMPARED AND CONTRASTED

Jesus communicated His mission saying, “For the son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life as ransom for many”. This statement depicts service and sacrifice. Similarly, Paul in his Epistles revealed that his leadership is derived from being a servant of Jesus Christ. Some translations of the Bible even allude to him as a bondservant of Jesus.

Paul’s leadership is by example reflected in his statement, “be followers of me as I am of Christ” [8] , similar to Jesus’, “I do whatever I see the Father do” [9] . This emanated from the law of reproduction of kinds – “every organism produces after its kind” [10] ; which actually has its root in Genesis at creation. It is popularly said, that “success without a successor is failure”. As Jesus therefore commanded his disciples to “teach all nations”, so Paul instructed Timothy that “the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”, thus the continuity of the leadership chain guaranteed. The mentorship style of both Jesus and Paul is also here emphasised.

According to Ascough, Paul’s style of leadership referenced in 1st Thessalonians 5:12-13 is, “to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in highest regard because of their work” [11] . Since these are unnamed people, the term “who are over you”, implies they are leaders whose obligation is due to the work they do rather than their position. This tally with Jesus’ view that leadership is not about the office but the duties. While exercising authority in administrative offices, they are not to slack in their daily tasks of “their work”; for which they are to be respected [12] .

Accordingly, Agosto’s Jesus’ leadership challenged the political and spiritual leadership of His time. He identified with the masses that were overtaxed and oppressed by the Jewish domination helped by Roman authorities. He confronted the injustice, challenging the oppressors’ right into the temple; where He overthrew tables of money changers [13] . His weapon remained the Word of God, referring His critics to the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 7: 11 which says that the house of God has become den of robbers. [14] 

The difference between Jesus’ and Paul’s leadership style is obvious the way Jesus ministered to a local audience in the regions of Galilee and Jerusalem and ministered in Jewish temple and synagogues, Paul embarked on missionary journeys establishing churches in urban centres throughout the Roman Empire.

Paul wrote to his followers while Jesus did not keep any writing except witnesses account written after his death. This makes Paul presentation more comprehensible to us today than Jesus [15] . The gospel writers may not have written without elements of their personal agenda.

THE FIVE FOLD LEADERSHIP MINISTRY

In Ephesians chapter 4, the five-fold leader’s template was identified and Paul explained the purpose of the gifts. According to verse 12, the purpose of the gifts is not to boast but as tools to work with, that is:

The perfecting of the saints – providing leadership for other believers

The work of the ministry

The edifying of the body of Christ

APOSTLES

The word “apostle” is from the Greek word “apostollos” meaning “to send”. That is called to represent Christ as a missionary, preaching the gospel and establishing churches. [16] Jesus was called an Apostle sent by God (Hebrews 3:1). [17] Stamps believe that apart from the signs of an Apostle mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:12, the apostles commissioned to write scriptures belonged to a different class to church leaders that succeed them.

PROPHETS

The Old Testament prophets always appeal to the conscience of God’s people to remain faithful and telling of future events. Today they warn, rebuke exhort, comfort and pronounce judgement [18] . Their prophecies however are to be authenticated by the word of God.

EVANGELISTS

From the Greek root word “evangel” meaning “good news”, evangelists have the tasks of spreading the gospel of Christ. Jesus commanded His disciples to “go into the world and preach the gospel to all creatures. Mark 16:15. Every believer is expected to do this. But there are some specially gifted of the Holy Spirit to evangelise and win many souls by preaching, miracles and deliverance [19] . Philip is a classical NT example (Acts 21:8).

PASTORS

Pastors are shepherds to tend and oversee the flock of God in a local assembly. They are to feed the members with the undiluted word of God; to ensure spiritual growth and provide leadership for the congregation in a local church. Apostle Paul was very clear in expressing the qualifications of bishop, Pastor or overseers; which are not political but spiritual qualities (1 Timothy 3: 1-7).

TEACHERS

Teachers lead God’s people providing sound doctrine and acting as the custodians of the truthfulness of the Word of God. They check and balance the ministry of prophets to prevent heresies [20] . They are also responsible for raising other teachers.

The five-fold ministry are interrelated and interdependent. Individuals within the body of Christ can possibly manifest more than one of these gifts. Apostles are said to function in all five.

LEADERSHIP WITH DEFINED AND PROJECTED VISION TO FOLLOWERSHIP.

According to Carson Pue, Leaders met in the past two decades and concur in the realisation of the full advantages of communicating their vision clearly and with such a feeling that people were able to follow. With numerous books on visionary leadership, Leaders wanting to achieve their target for various ministries or organisation will still need to cope with the modern requirement for the creation and communicating their visions. He made mention from John Cotter’s extensive research that Superior Leadership stems from power to “translate a vision into reality and sustain it”.

Carson sums it all by the absolute need to take adequate time, involve enough people so as to successfully disseminate the vision. It will in turn be captured at all levels of workers in the organisation (boosting motivation) hence assist in progression of goals for the Ministry. [21] A biblical example is the sequence with which the Lord did the commissioning of the disciples after resurrection as recorded in Acts 1:8 where the disciples were instructed to wait for Holy Ghost baptism to acquire the power required for evangelism. [22] 

MANAGEMENT OF CHANGES IN LEADERSHIP.

According to Michael W Foss’ book A servant’s manual, Dr Zipper symbolises the process or challenge of Change to a burning platform with a multiple attitudinal response form leadership. With the “burning platform” taken as the very circumstances that necessitates the required change, its management then translates to ability to call the attention of those whom the change will affect to it. While Persistence, patience and purpose are three key factors through a successful change, there are conservative leaders that will assert that “the platform is not really on fire”. This is an expression of denial immediately followed with the attitude that, we had fires in the past this one is no different we will soon put it out!

This foregoing attitude was linked to gradual decline in church attendance research at various congregations despite sustained evangelism. The big question to consider is if the platform is burning hot enough to absorb the obvious loss. Management of Change welcomes such loss as long as focus is brought from the past to the present for the sake of “good future”. Leaders are enjoined to make use of only vocabulary that will influence those who will receive the changes. Leaders are to stay connected to followers as followers prefer leaders who are with them rather than the one “always in front of them”. [23] 

MANAGEMENT OF OPPOSITIONS IN LEADERSHIP

Oppositions will come up from within the leadership scope and outside the scope itself, hence according to Bill Hull’s book, the disciple making church, he used the example of Paul and Barnabas who saw opposition as normal and a clear projection of their success. With full recognition of Acts 14:22 where it is expected that evangelism through tribulation are the pathway to Kingdom of God. Hull says that oppositions could be gotten from the resulting friction from the implementation of God’s agenda or from being passive and allowing the Church to be moribund with a resulting clamour against poor leadership skills. He further said that in evaluating approaches to opposition, it is good to bear in mind that the enemies of the ministry should only be in the categories of the opponents of the gospel. It is essential to let the opposition count rather than being ignored.

Apostle Paul in a Challenging time was encouraged by God who made it clear to him to continue the evangelism as there are many people in the city for God ( Acts 18:9-10), when he was abused by Corinthians Jews as he left them to continue preaching to the gentiles. [24] 

Conclusively, I am in support of Leadership that is ready to Change, manage changes as earlier mentioned by Michael Foss rather than the passive leadership that only reacts to the aftermath of challenges rather than being pro-active or be mindful of overall disposition in the scope of leadership in the areas of needful changes and apparent opposition. This in line with warning from Hosea 4:6 which God warned that his people are perishing due to lack of Knowledge. This can also be likened to indifference and overly conservative attitude of some Modern day leaders. [25] 


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