Leadership, Jesus style

Tuesday nights in February I teach a class at a church in Oakland on “Liderazgo al Estilo de Jesús” (that’s Spanish for “Leadership Jesus’ style”).  My students are mostly tri-lingual.  And, one of the three, is likely to be one of three different dialects of Mam, a Mayan language from the highlands of Guatemala.

After my one week introduction to the story of Jesus’ leadership, I have invited guest speakers to share their experience and reflection.  Each invited speakier has experience on the street in Oakland trying to lead.  Each also has thought about their own leadership in light of their own choice to follow Jesus.

I ask them to answer two questions, and then a discussion follows.

  1. What has it meant for you to follow Jesus in Oakland?
    ¿Qué ha significado para tí, seguir a Jesús, en Oakland?
  2. What do you think Jesus has to do with how you learned to lead?
    ¿Qué tiene que ver Jesús con la forma que has aprendido a liderar?

This last week my long-time friend, Ross Rohde, was the guest.

I have known Ross and his sense that Jesus turns the idea of leadership on its head.  When Jesus says, that the rulers of the nations dominate them, he goes on to say to his followers:  “it will not be so with you.  Let the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as one who serves.” Ross says that Jesus is not teaching “servant leadership”.  Rather, he is giving his followers an alternative to leadership.  “Don’t lead.  Serve.”   This is because Jesus is not just an example.  He is to lead us.  Too many problems have come about when Christians vie to see who will be leader.

In answer to the first question Ross told a story about how, when he and some friends tried to follow Jesus quite literally in Oakland, they ended up in Stockton.  It started out when his friends literally followed an alley to a man who was cleaning crabs in one of the more difficult areas of East Oakland.  They realized they should ask him if he wanted to talk about Jesus.  Still they were surprised when the man said he actually had questions about Jesus, and he was looking for someone to whom he could ask them.  After talking about the questions, the man decided to actually follow Jesus with his family and friends.  Ross and his friends then followed him to Stockton where his people live.  Several of them have decided to Jesus together and are growing a simple church community in Stockton (and maybe soon in the South Bay).

To answer to my second question, Ross pulled out a list.    Here is how thinking about Jesus’ leadership has shaped Ross’ idea of what it takes to lead.  For me, it follows a logic, based on Jesus’ comments to his followers about leading, and it is revolutionary.

Lecciones acerca del liderazgo
Lessons about leadership

  1. Cuando yo tengo poder, el resultado es conflicto – cuando yo no tengo poder, el resultado es amistad.
    When I have power, the outcome is conflict–when I don’t have power, the outcome is friendship.
  2. No necesito poder – necesito influencia.
    I don’t need power.  I need influence.
  3. Influencia es un regalo de Dios y de la persona con quien tengo influencia.
    Influence is a gift from God and from the person who allows me to influence them.
  4. Influencia viene de la confianza personal, no del poder.
    I get influence when someone trusts me, not when I have power over them. 
  5. Edificamos confianza cuando somos confiables.
    Trust is built when we are trustworthy.
  6. La responsabilidad de los que tienen influencia es que hagan discípulos.
    The responsibility of those ho have influence is to make disciples.
  7. Hacemos discípulos cuando ayudamos a una persona a tomar un paso más para acercarse a Jesús.
    We make disciples when we help a person take steps toward Jesus. 
  8. Podemos hacer discípulos con cada persona con quien tenemos contacto, cristiano o no cristiano.
    We can make disciples of anyone we meet, whether or not they are a Christian.
  9. El discipulado es recíproco:  Yo puedo ayudar a una persona a tomar pasos hacia Jesús, a la vez que esta persona puede hacer lo mismo por mí.
    Disciple-making is reciprocal.  I can help a person take steps toward Jesus and they can help me take steps toward Jesus. 
  10. Cada cosa que tengo (idea, experiencia, sabiduría o aun dinero) puedo regalar.
    I can give away anything I have (experience, wisdom and even money). 
  11. Solo puedo dar lo que tengo. No puedo dar lo que no tengo.  Es decir, no puedo realmente enseñar o compartir algo que no viene de mi ser.
    I can only give what I have.  Not what I don’t have.  This means that I cannot teach something or share an idea or a plan that doesn’t come from my being. 

Ross is the author of the Viral Jesus.

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