At the heart of my personal leadership formation is the focus on knowing, loving and following Jesus Christ in such a way that I am transformed into His image, therefore becoming and leading more like Him.
Jesus said, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19, NKJV). Following Jesus and His example is vital, “for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). The outflow of this followership will be godly leadership.
An important aspect of the apostle Paul’s leadership was his followership. Paul followed Christ and clearly encouraged people to follow him as he followed Christ. Therefore, it is no surprise that Paul wrote to the Philippians (Phil. 2:1-11) about the importance of being like Christ. From this passage, we learn important leadership principles.
Paul began this passage implying that there are benefits of being “in Christ,” such as encouragement, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and compassion. He also set the groundwork for following Jesus’ example by calling the believers in Philippi to remember that they were one “in Christ” and, therefore, should have the mind of Christ. They should be one in love, spirit and mind. Following Christ’s love and having unity are fundamental to leadership.
In verses 3 and 4, Paul added a few more “dos and don’ts.” The admonition to “let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit” spoke to their motivation, or heart condition. They were to check their motives before acting on them. Paul concluded this section by asking them to be humble, considering others more valuable than themselves, not looking to their own interests but to take others’ interests into consideration, as well. These instructions were well illustrated by the life of Christ and worthy to be followed.
Paul then told the Philippians to have the same attitude, or mind, as Jesus. Paul wanted them to be mentally disposed to think the same way as Jesus. Even though Jesus maintained the form of God, He was not mentally disposed to think that His equality with God was a prize, or treasure, to be held fast and used for His own advantage.
Christ emptied Himself when He became a man, and chose to live His life as a bondservant, surrendering His rights and will to the Father. He set aside His divine prerogatives when He took the form of a man. His choice to become a bondservant was an act of love, which He demonstrated by a life of complete obedience no matter what the cost.
Christ showed us the best way to lead: It is by becoming a servant of God, and serving others. His selfless example is one that Paul desired his readers to follow even it if meant taking up the cross to follow Him.
This passage informs us that the sovereign God is a loving God who is interested in others’ wellbeing. He is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, doing whatever it takes within His character and will to make sure the needs of others are taken care of.
His approach as a servant-leader demonstrates His choice of leadership style. He could have “lorded over us,” imposing His power and control, but instead He chose to empty Himself and serve us. He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. This informs us that being a servant is the greatest form of leadership, the greatest way of helping people, and the lifestyle that leads to the greatest rewards.
There is a lot to be learned about humility in leadership from a God who humbled Himself but did not “lessen” Himself. Sometimes, we confuse humiliation with humility. We think that if we surrender our rights and live as lowly servants, we are somehow less of a person and powerless. That is far from the truth that Jesus demonstrated in His life.
In reality, those who humble themselves will be lifted up. No one is greater than his master, so if Christ lived as a servant, then I must also live as a servant, setting aside my rights and following His example.
The Foursquare Church has three core Missional Objectives to guide our collective missional focus and develop a healthy culture in our churches. These include: (1) leadership development; (2) church and congregation multiplication; and (3) church health and transformation. Learn more about Foursquare’s Missional Objectives.