Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv

“If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously” (Romans 12:8 NLT).

The most interesting thing about leadership is the way we think of our leaders. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” I remember hearing these words from the president of the local union at the first Board meeting I attended as a newly elected delegate. Confusing for a 22 year old who had just become the delegate because his opponent, who was on the president’s slate and actually won by a slim margin, was disqualified because he was not in good standing. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” Did he mean for ‘me’ to get out of the way, or was he encouraging me to push myself to reach my maximum potential.

As a young, newly ‘selected’ union delegate, my dominant interpretation of a good leader was the one who was out front, the one who puts his/her vision into action, the one who was most visible, the most outspoken, the most effective. Most would agree that there’s validity to this description.

After that meeting, I remember purchasing and reading Robert’s Rules of Order from cover to cover twice so that I would understand the rules of the game, fully participate in the Board meetings, and be a good leader. I wanted to be formidable. To be formidable, you have to have good form.

But I had never thought about, studied, or considered leadership from a Christological perspective. If I had, I would have found out that Christ does not qualify leadership in the same manner that we do. Jesus was asked by His disciples who among them should be considered the greatest. He didn’t say those who were out front, making their vision reality, the one who was most visible, the most outspoken or the most effective. He said the most effective leader was a servant.  “In this world, the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant” (Luke 22:25-26 NLT). He then asks a thought-provoking but rhetorical question, “Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves?” “The one who sits at the table, of course.” He then summarizes leadership as the greatest leader who ever lived; “But not here! For I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27 NLT). Did you get that? Jesus, God incarnate, came to serve!

Jesus takes leadership to another level. The greatest leader in the history of the world says that real leadership is service. Leadership would be personified in His disciples and by our faith, in us as well. If you want to lead many people, you have to serve many people.

As you consider your leadership role, your leadership style, remember that there is a reward for service well done. Jesus promises; “And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29 NLT).

Again,“If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously” (Romans 12:8 NLT).

Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv, is an associate minister at both Goodwill Baptist and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Bronx Chronicle, its staff, or contributors.

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