In this series of posts, I have been taking us through Marquardt and Berger’s eight competencies of an effective global leader for the 21st century and comparing them to what we know about the life of Jesus Christ. The purpose has been to get us to look at Jesus not just as the Son of God or as a great moral teacher, but as a leader. How does Jesus fair when tested through the grid of Marquardt and Berger’s criteria?
So far, we have seen that Jesus meets the criteria — except perhaps in the category of technologist since technology was so rudimentary during the time he walked this earth. In this post, I want to look at the final competency of a global leader: Teacher.
In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard says the world has lost an accurate understanding of Jesus as teacher. He writes:
With the disappearance of Jesus as teacher—replaced by the mere sacrificial Lamb or else the prophet of social and personal ‘liberation’—the prospects for the making of disciples to him become very dim indeed. You cannot have students if you have no teacher.
Willard is referring to the evangelical tendency to see Jesus only as the provider of forgiveness and not as someone people should study and follow. This is unfortunate because the record shows that Jesus was a master teacher.
Even a casual look at the gospels reveals that Jesus sought to make his church a learning organism and that he saw himself as the primary source of that learning. People referred to him as “rabbi” (teacher) (Matt. 26:25; Mark 9:5). The authors of the New Testament use the word “disciples” or “learners” 233 times to describe the followers of Jesus.
He was skilled at life-based learning. He used experience-oriented methods to teach (Luke 9:2-5). Any event and every chance encounter he would turn into a teaching moment. What looked like ordinary wild flowers became lilies of the field that teach the valuable lesson that God cares for his children (Matt. 6:28). A stone outcrop, upon which the city of Cesaerea Philippi was built, became a symbol of his message, a message that would become the foundation of his church (Matt. 16:18).
Jesus was the master teacher and he wanted his church to be a master learning community.
The life of Jesus Christ does provide practical insight into what it means to be a global leader. He had a vision and knew how to pass that vision on to his followers. Jesus was a strong leader who knew how to serve others in that strength. He was an innovator creating new forms to fit new realities. Though most of his earthly ministry took place among the Jews, the seeds of a global vision, unfettered by ethnic tribalism are clear throughout his teaching and activities. He gives us a foundation for evaluating and using technology today to extend our global potential. He was a systems thinker who saw and helped others see the big picture. He was a spiritual leader who valued the intangible dimensions of life and work. He was a teacher who knew how to unfold the potential of his students.
Jesus combined these attributes into a potentiated life that has had and continues to have an expanding global impact for healing, truth, and love.
Greg Waddell provides consulting services for churches and organizations. Contact Dr. Waddell today at gregwaddell[at]leadstrategic.com to discuss the needs of your organization.
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (NY: HarperCollins, 1998), 300.
Michael J. Marquardt and Nancy O. Berger, Global Leaders for the 21st Century (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000).