by Lt. Colonel Jonathan Rich, Secretary for Program
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The last 13 months have tested the mettle of every leader around the globe. Old words and realities have found new significance: pivot, virtual, distance, home office, etc. New words have entered our everyday vernacular: masking (never heard that verb before); quaranteam (the limited group of people you see during self-isolation); zoom-bombing (when uninvited guests disrupt a virtual meeting); coronababies (our second granddaughter was born on May 21, 2020, and I can’t even begin to tell you how different her first 10 months have been compared with anyone else in our family!); and many more.
I recently read an article, “Leading in Times of Crisis,” by Joyce Russell. She listed 13 critical leadership behaviors and characteristics needed during times of crisis. As I read, the profound leadership lessons from the greatest leader of all time, Jesus Christ, came to mind. Here are a few with corresponding verses from the Bible that reveal how Jesus demonstrated these characteristics. As you read them, ask yourself, “Am I leading like Jesus?”
Show Humility. Jesus was the ultimate exemplar of humility. Nowhere is this more powerfully demonstrated than in Philippians 2:6-11 (NIV): “Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be used for his own advantage, rather he made himself nothing…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death…” How are you doing in your leadership role(s)?
Be Empathetic. Jesus was not only fully God but also fully man. Therefore, He can fully relate, and then some, to all we are going through: pain, fear, anxiety, grief, etc. In Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) we read, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Are you able to empathize with those you lead?
Help those around you find meaning. Jesus did this many times by connecting His disciples to the mission of all Christ followers: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,…Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31, NIV). This meaning is discovered and experienced when we accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Him.
Share a hopeful message for the future. “No longer will there be any curse…yes I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22: 3, 7, 12, 20) In your leadership, do you instill hope borne out of your trust in God and the “end of the story?”
The crises of 2020 and 2021 haven’t taken our Lord by surprise. For such a time as this, we are called to lead like Jesus, and He will equip those whom He has called. How are you doing?