There are two dominant philosophies of leadership in the world and church today. I call them: Reigning with either Fear or Love. Fear based leadership is self-centered and has a philosophy of “taking.” Love based leadership is others-centered and has a philosophy of “giving.”
When Jesus was alive and walking the earth, the establishment was constantly challenged by him because they were ruling the masses with fear and he came to reinvent the system with love. His disciples were so ingrained with the fear/selfish/taking mentality that is so pervasive in every culture, that Jesus periodically rebuked them for their selfishness and fear. He set the example of loving leadership.
Here is an example of a time when James and John were motivated by fear based leadership:
James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Grant that we may sit, one on your right and one on your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking…to sit on my right or on my left, this is not mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
Hearing this, the ten (other disciples) began to feel indignant with James and John. Calling them to himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:35-45 NASB).
Jesus set the record straight. The way to power and influence was not by selfish ambition or as Jesus called it, “lording over” but through service. The one who is first (or greatest), is the servant of all.
As I have observed both of these leadership styles in both businesses and churches, I have discovered some distinct characteristics. Here are some of the motivations and fruits of both types of leadership:
Fear Based Leadership
Motivated by pride/ego Impure heart Self-centered Has hidden evil motives Selfish, taking mentality
Pretends to be humble and has most people fooled Secretly tears others down to build self up
Subtly manipulative Grasps for power and control
Love Based Leadership
Motivated by humility Pure heart Others centered Has pure motives Giving/Serving mentality
Genuine and humble to the core of their heart Secretly and openly builds others up
Surrenders control to God Exalted because God sees true humility and yieldness
Jesus - The Ultimate Example of Loving Leadership
Jesus was the ultimate giving/loving based leader. When He returns to establish his kingdom over the whole universe, how do you think he will do it? I have a theory. I think Jesus will do it the same way that he did the first time. The King of kings will discover followers who are genuinely humble and trustworthy. Then He will serve them. He will invest His time, energy, and resources into helping others grow their service and influence over the earth.
You see, Jesus never built His own kingdom. He built His Father’s kingdom. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a profound shift in strategic thinking in leadership. Give first. Serve first. Help others build their dreams first. Then God will exalt your influence over the entire earth.
Here's another profound thought on Jesus's leadership philosophy. Jesus never established his own church. He didn't even own a building where His followers met weekly. He was more of a nomadic teacher traveling from town to town teaching and preaching about the Kingdom of God. Jesus's leadership style was to discover faithful, humble leaders, then equip them to establish the church. They were the disciples who eventually became apostles. Jesus' leadership style was to encourage, equip, and strengthen leaders who would eventually plant local churches with buildings who would reach the world.
The Bible reveals Jesus' philosophy of loving leadership in these verses and His resulting benefits: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient…for this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:8-11 NASB).
What’s the key to love based leadership and therefore reigning with love? Understanding and demonstrating that exaltation comes through serving and humility motivated by love and pure passion with an effort to build God's kingdom.