Glencairn Methodist Church
Every third year each parish elects four people to serve as Parochial Nominators, and every now and again, when a rector resigns or retires, those in office at that time get to do the job they are elected to do, namely represent the parish on the Board of Nomination of a new rector. Good nominators will listen attentively as the members of the church tell them what sort of a person they would like to have appointed. "Someone who is a good preacher, and a good visitor, and a good worker (code for: will do all the work themselves), and have a wife (!) that will run the Mothers' Union and arrange the Christmas sale. He (!) won't change anything (or will change everything), will keep the organ (or will dispense with the organ)." And so on, and so on!
But how many will ask for the appointment of a godly man or woman who will show them Jesus, who will lead them and others to Jesus? It would be prudent to study the leadership qualities of Jesus that we see in the Bible.
In Matthew 12: 28 we read that Jesus said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." This has been described as "Come to me" leadership, indicating that Jesus is accessible to everyone. And he receives the weary with gentleness and humility. Then in Matthew 14: 13 - 20 we read the story of the feeding of the five thousand. In verse 14 we read that Jesus had compassion on the large crowd that had gathered. Having compassion means not only saying fine words but also doing something about the situation. He healed them and fed them with a miraculous meal of five loaves and two fish. Jesus had just returned from "a solitary place" where he had been mourning the death of John the Baptist, and he may have been feeling vulnerable to arrest and execution. Even so he was accessible to the people and they had come to him.
So the first characteristic of Jesus' leadership style was to be accessible and to invite people to "come to me".
We turn now to Mark 1:16 - 20 where Jesus start to recruit his followers. We note that it was Jesus who took the initiative, "Follow me", he said. Later (John 15: 16) Jesus reminds his disciples that "You did not choose me but I choose you". Jesus did this, and many other things, "with authority", an authority derived from his intimate closeness with the Father. But Jesus chose people for a purpose, to go and recruit new followers. Jesus was an inspirational leader, exercising what has been described as "Follow me" leadership.
So a second characteristic of Jesus' leadership style was to be inspirational in such a way that they easily accepted his invitation to "follow me".
"Come to me" leadership, being accessible to people, meeting them with gentleness, humility and compassion, being vulnerable when doing so. And "follow me" leadership, being inspirational, speaking with the authority that come from a close relationship with God, giving jobs to do.
Of course it is not just the new rector who might learn from these characteristics. Every Christian should be accessible to those who seek Christ; every Christian should inspire those who seek to become followers also. They should demonstrate gentleness, humility and compassion, and should have an intimate relationship with God the Father.
A demanding job for a new rector; a demanding job for every Christian. Worth trying to achieve, don't you think?
[I have been inspired to write this Message by the words of Andrew Watson, writing in Bible Reading Fellowship Guidelines, May to August 2013. Watson has also written the book, The Fourfold Leadership of Jesus (BRF 2008). He describes the third and fourth characteristics of Jesus leadership as long term (Wait!) and missional (Go!) When I read what he has to say about these in the October to December Guidelines, I will share more thoughts with you. But you might like to pre-empt this and read his book now!]
14August 2013 (Apologies for being later than usual. A combination of a computer crash and other business held me back.)
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm