Today’s post is about leadership lessons from Saturday, but not just any Saturday. I’m talking about the Saturday that follows Good Friday… and the Saturday that is before Easter.
This is the leadership that follows dashed dreams, when hope seems lost.
Perhaps you’ve been there: that dynamic CEO or Pastor gets transferred. That person who holds all things together and can inspire every member of your organization is taken away.
How can you possibly lead under those conditions? And how will your organization survive?
Perhaps the best way to learn Saturday leadership is to go back to that first Saturday. Jesus’ disciples scattered when Jesus was taken in the garden. Now they find themselves huddled behind a locked door. They are frightened… demoralized… paralyzed.
That’s where Jesus finds them the next day when he returns. And I can’t help but wonder if they are even more frightened… demoralized… and paralyzed by Jesus’ presence.
Here stands the leader that laid down his life. The one whom every Disciple abandoned, and one even denied. Jesus’ attempts to change the world didn’t seem to be off to a good start.
But there is genius in Jesus’ leadership. In a few short weeks, the good news they hold so dear goes from scared to shared. How did Jesus do this?
It wasn’t just what Jesus did in that moment. It was also about what Jesus had done up until this point. In his three year ministry, Jesus invested in these Disciples in the following ways:
1. A simple, compelling vision
From the start, Jesus calls them to greatness. He sees simple fishermen and challenges them to a radical life change: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Matt 4:19 NLT).
2. Mentoring and modeling
Not only does Jesus paint the compelling vision, he continually demonstrates it. His call is not to come and do his bidding. His call is to come and “follow me.” Watch what he does… become more like him. And for three years he makes a regular habit of meeting with his disciples in between fantastic encounters with crowds of thousands. In some cases, he met with just three: Peter, James, and John. There was never a time when Jesus wasn’t challenging and teaching while simultaneously leading from the front.
3. Your turn – equipping followers
Jesus didn’t just do… he equipped. He created opportunities for his Disciples to learn and grow in their faith, and to return and talk about what happened afterwards. Read Luke 10 for an account of his instructions and their follow up. Jesus wasn’t just about theory. He was challenging his followers to walk their talk.
4. Truth telling
Jesus told the truth, even when it wasn’t popular, and even when it wasn’t good news. He repeatedly tells the Disciples what will happen to him on Good Friday. Be honest with yourself: if you were creating a new organization would you tell people that kind of news? Wouldn’t it crush their spirits? I’ll be you won’t find that in any best practices in organizations.
But look at Jesus’ motive in telling the truth: “I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah” (John 13:19 NLT).
Leaders may be tempted to be all good news and sunshine. But leaders who tell the truth are the ones I tend to believe in… and I would follow them anywhere!
LEADER: Are you doing these things now… BEFORE the tough times hit?
With all that outstanding leadership, you would expect Jesus’ Disciples to take the world by storm, right? And yet he finds them cowering behind the locked door.
But it’s what happens next that sets the stage for world transformation.
Jesus doesn’t pretend like the bad didn’t happen. He doesn’t ignore the fact that they aren’t exactly the model of “fishing for people” that he called them to be.
He challenges them: Three times he asks Peter if Peter really loves him. And each time Jesus reiterates what Peter is called to do. He repeatedly refocuses Peter’s priorities and ensures buy-in to the mission. John 21:15-19
He reiterates the original vision: Nothing has changed… I am with you always… go and make disciples of all the nations (a.k.a., go fish). (Matthew 28:18-20)
He turns them loose: Even though they may not think they’re ready, Jesus thinks they are. And it turns out Jesus is right. Everyone of those Disciples who were cowering in fear became fearless in advancing the good news of Jesus.
LEADER: Are you able to look beyond temporary failure to see future potential? Are you challenging and holding people to the vision that God has called us to follow?
We have a place in this story too. We are called to go and make disciples in a world that can be hostile and frightening.
And Jesus will return.
When he does, where will he find us? Behind a locked door cowering in fear? Or carrying out the mission?
Their story is our story… and we’re still writing new chapters every day.
Make it a chapter worth reading!
How do you conquer fear in sharing the gospel? What other lessons do you learn from Jesus’ leadership that will help others? Share in the comments!