The best leaders are those who lead from the front and inspire people to follow their example of courage, integrity and sacrifice.
The greatest influence a leader can have is the way they live out their own convictions in both public and in private spaces. Their authenticity proves they are trustworthy, because they walk the talk instead of shooting from the hip and expecting people to fall into line because of the position or title they hold.
Jesus was particularly aggravated by leaders who abused their positions of religious authority, and He didn’t hold back in exposing those who weren’t willing to live what they preached while making unreasonable demands of others:
“What sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden” – Luke 11:46 (NLT)
The reason Jesus hated this kind of leadership is that these people completely misrepresented God’s character. God became a hard task master, a boss in the clouds who demanded so much but gave very little to help them. The sad thing is that today, many people see Him in the same way.
But Jesus was different. Jesus’ leadership was defined by His sacrificial love for those who followed Him. Instead of laying burdens on the people, He came to lift them. Instead of making demands on people that He Himself didn’t keep, He led from the front, walking the talk.
Jesus’ own words sum up the greatest leadership principle ever given:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” – “John 15:13 (NIV)
Jesus’ love for those who followed Him was so great that He not only called them His friends, but literally gave His life for them. As a result of His sacrifice, He inspired His followers to do the same, and they went on to give their lives to seeing the ends of the earth transformed by the love of Jesus.
To the extent that you sacrificially love the people you lead is the extent you will inspire them to follow you, even to the ends of the earth!