While we’ll never find that “if A then B” instruction manual many of us crave, we can glean numerous principles from how Jesus lived and loved during His time on earth that, when applied, help maximize our impact.
Leading and serving others can be challenging and confusing. This is, in part, because what works for one individual may prove counter-productive for someone else. Plus, most of us have probably experienced the tension between wanting to complete tasks, remain available to others, and nourish and rejuvenate our souls. While we’ll never find that “if A then B” instruction manual many of us crave, we can glean numerous principles from how Jesus lived and loved during His time on earth that, when applied, help maximize our impact.
Here are 4 practices displayed by Christ that foster eternally significant results:
1. Jesus Prioritized Training
Ask anyone living in the 21st century how they’re doing, and you’ll likely hear one of three responses. They’ll state they are busy, tired, or both. This is especially true for anyone engaged in ministry, which often lacks the traditional 8-5, Monday-Friday work-week boundaries. We can, and often do, receive emails, phone calls, and text messages throughout the day and perhaps even late into the night. Plus, we typically work with volunteers, some of whom exhibit utmost dependability and others who cancel moments before you need them or simply never show.
To litigate the chaos, we might feel tempted to catch every ball someone else drops. But what happens when those balls never stop dropping? We could easily spend all our energy and resources mitigating problems today without building the team needed to create a stronger and less chaotic tomorrow.
Jesus knew when to focus on the ever-present and pressing needs of the masses and when to quietly slip away with His disciples. In Mark 9, we read about a time when, as often occurred, Jesus and His disciples encountered a crowd, no doubt most of them desperately seeking supernatural help for their greatest difficulties. While Scripture tells us that Christ performed at least one miracle that day, we also know at some point Jesus and His disciples quietly slipped away. Initially they gathered inside a house, after which He took them privately throughout Galilee (v. 28-30).
Verses 30-31 explain why, stating, “From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later'” (NASB, emphasis mine).
Jesus knew the crowds needed Him and deeply empathized with their pain. But He also understood the tremendous ministry yet to come when, after His resurrection and ascension, these twelve Spirit-filled men would begin to advance His kingdom across the globe. Therefore, He ensured He had ample time to teach them all they would need to learn to carry on, in Him, the work He started.
2. Jesus Knew When to Be Selective
Do you find you receive way more coffee invites and mentoring requests than you have time to fill, even if your role only involves face-to-face interactions? Jesus experienced more demands on His time than you and I will ten times over. In Luke 10, we read of 72 students Christ sent into towns and villages to heal the sick and prepare His way. He also authorized them to teach those they encountered about the Kingdom of God, which, therefore, implies He thoroughly taught them these truths. Yet, He spent the majority of time with His twelve disciples and focused even more intently on a small group of three.
Christ invites ministry leaders to follow His example. We are to share His truth whenever and to whomever circumstances allow but to deeply invest in a chosen few. Our prioritizing isn’t mean or cliquish. Rather, it’s managing our God-given time, gifts, and assignments well whereas trying to connect with everyone equally is foolish and irresponsible.
3. Jesus Told His Disciples to Expect Challenges
Most leaders recognize the importance of building and maintaining team morale. Therefore, we might feel tempted to paint an unrealistically rosy view of our organization or the difficulties expected with a particular project. Our attempts to shield others from hard realities can place them at a disadvantage, causing them to feel blindsided and ill-equipped.
People are better able to persevere through challenging situations when given the opportunity to mentally and spiritually prepare for them.
Jesus understood this. In John 16:4, He said, “I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.” He was referring to all He had said prior, likely beginning with all He had shared during their solemn meal together when He told them that He would be betrayed by one of their own (John 13:8). Peter would deny Him (John 13:38), and they all would abandon Him during His darkest hour.
But that wasn’t all. They also would experience intense persecution. And Jesus warned them of these things not to trigger their fear but rather to increase their strength. “I have told you these things,” He said in John 16:1, “so that you will not fall away” (NET).
4. Jesus Assured His Disciples of the Victory to Come
As we know, we live in a dark, broken, and often cruel world where people oppress, wound, and destroy one another. Life and ministry are hard. Jesus assured us and His disciples that we would face opposition, but He also promised that evil wouldn’t win and justice and paradise would come. In John 16:33 He said, once again referring to all He told His disciples prior, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV).
Each day, with each disappointment, frustration, and challenging project, Christ says the same to us. He tells us to take courage, to bolster our souls with truth, because whatever we’re facing, He has already overcome. And this means, because we belong to Him, we have overcome already. Therefore, we can approach every battle and momentary setback from a place of victory. This is true for us and for those we lead. Our role, then, is to regularly remind them of this truth.
At times, our roles may feel overwhelming. We may worry we’re unqualified or ill-equipped for the task ahead, but Scripture promises us that God has given us everything we need to do all that He’s asked—and to lead His people as He desires. Christ came to model the best way to live, one that results in exponential impact for generations to come.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/mrdoomits
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.