A note from Kelly King: Effective ministry leaders must first learn how to follow Christ. The reality is that followship is just part of our command. True followers of Jesus learn how to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily, and then follow Him. It is a daily death—death to our own agendas and pursuits. Diane Nix gives her personal insight into how she is learning this principle.
It’s the month of our Easter celebration, and at this writing, it’s the Thursday before Good Friday. For Jesus and His disciples, Sunday through Tuesday had been very busy. From the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the crowds crying, “Hosanna, Hosanna…” to the clearing of the temple courts and debate with the Sanhedrin, Jesus was laser focused and purposeful. On Wednesday, we don’t know what He and the disciples did, but theologians throughout the years have speculated it might have been a restful day. He knew what was coming. He had poured out Sunday through Tuesday, and so perhaps, He prepared for the fulfillment of prophecy by taking a rest on Wednesday. One thing is for sure: our Lord never lost sight of His intended role.
One of the most critical buzz words (secular and spiritual) today is the word, “leadership.” We are challenged regularly that we are all leaders and that we should be leading well. The challenge to sharpen our leadership voices and skills and to hone them so we become the leader we were meant to be is a constant. As an example, I just received another personality profile test from a dear friend, and it’s all about how I am to lead out of my voice or temperament. I’m generally interested, but can I cry out, “STOP!”?
I absolutely believe in all of the leadership encouragement and teaching, but I must confess that I can become overwhelmed with what I must do next to become the most effective leader. These emotions have driven me to my prayer closet where I asked the most excellent Leader His thoughts.
As I prayed, the following verse, the second one I memorized after becoming a believer, came to mind:
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
There it is. The essential leadership tip you and I must embrace is the example of our perfect leader, Jesus Christ. You and I must learn how to die. Wow! To be the best leader, I have to die with Christ. I get to choose whether I will walk this death out in my leadership, but none the less it is the call of every leader, every believer. Death is always a challenge in ministry, but it’s necessary for our leadership. It will be what sets us apart from the rest. So, are you willing to die?
Over the next few days, I continued to pray concerning my DEATH. As I did, the following thoughts became very clear. To effectively become an excellent leader, you must first:
Focus and Abide. I cannot do anything successfully unless I focus and abide in the vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NASB). My walk with the Lord has to be a priority above my position or leadership role. I will never achieve real, lasting success unless I understand that He is the ONE who invited me to the table, and He is the ONE who should call the shots.
Surrender. As a believer, I will only lead well if I surrender everything to Lord. The garden of Gethsemane is a clear picture of this. Jesus modeled the surrendered life when He prayed in the garden that night.
“And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36, NASB).
How are we at surrendering our agendas to the Lord? Do we ask Him for His guidance, and then are we willing to let Him lead us in all of our plans?
Selflessly Serve. Thursday of Holy Week took a somber turn. Jesus had sent Peter and John ahead of Him to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover meal in the Upper Room. Once again, displaying servant leadership while in the Upper Room, Jesus took a towel, girded Himself, and bent low to wash His disciple’s feet. Jesus modeled an accurate picture of leadership in that He was willing to take on the lowliest of duties to serve those who had been faithful to serve with Him. He even washed the feet of the one who had already betrayed Him by conspiring with the Sanhedrin on Tuesday. He never counted Himself above these men. He looked at them for who they were, and He modeled the way of leading them with grace and dignity.
Be Humble. Our perfect example of leadership endured more than any of us will ever experience. Jesus suffered betrayal in the garden when Judas betrayed him with a kiss. He was arrested, taken before the Sanhedrin, and condemned. Needing the approval of Rome, He went from Pilate to Herod and back again to Pilate, where He was sentenced to death. Never once did He retaliate. Beaten beyond recognition, spit upon, beaten with a rod, and with a crown of thorns pressed into His head, He never uttered a word. Nailed to the cross, we then see Him humbly speak. He modeled perfect leadership until He breathed His last.
I have suffered much in life, but I have never experienced anything near what my perfect example endured. I must die so that He can lead through me. My prayer for the rest of this year is, “Oh Lord, I desire to have the courage to abide despite the roar of the world around me. I willfully surrender my agenda and my plans to You. Make me a servant leader. I ask you to help me live in humility, knowing that I can do nothing apart from you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Diane is the director and founder of Contagious Joy 4 Him, a network of encouragement to ministry wives around the globe. Diane shares her journey of lessons learned while being a pastor’s wife for 21 years. She and her family experienced the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where—after living in New Orleans for only three weeks—they lost every daily living thing. Author of the book, When God’s Woman Wants to Give Up!, Diane sheds light on “never giving up” in the midst of trials. Her husband, Dr. Preston Nix, is professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching at NOBTS. Serving in ministry together for 34 years, they have two biological daughters, two spiritual-grown daughters, two special grands, and a spiritual son in-law. She is an author, speaker, and blogger.