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The Leadership Principles of Jesus

We know Jesus as many things: Son of God, Saviour, teacher, healer, religious leader. But have you stopped to consider Jesus as a leader?

Join me as I explore the three areas of leadership that Jesus displayed.

You can watch here, listen below, or subscribe to my podcast.

Sermon Overview:


  • This is not a Father’s day sermon (although it is applicable)
  • We are all leaders in one way or another
  • We have all been helped, or hurt by leaders
  • We all seek to be the best leaders we can be
  • Jesus is the best example of leadership who has given us an example to follow “in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21)
  1. The Secret Warrior

Jesus’ formative years were lead in obscurity
* 30 years as an ordinary Jewish peasant, probably working as a carpenter
* 40 days in the wilderness, being tempted (with nobody around to see)
Jesus was victorious first in private, so that He could become victorious in public

A) Victory over Personal Demons

  • The temptation of Jesus is recorded in Mark 1:35, Mt. 4:1-11, Luke 5:16
  • Jesus was victorious over:
    • Physical temptations (physical hunger)
    • Psychological temptations (temptation to pride)
    • Vocational temptations (having the right thing in the wrong way…the “ends justifies the means”)
    • These are the sorts of things that destroy leaders today. We need to be victorious in our private lives, so that our public ministries and organizations will not crumble due to our private failings.

B) A life of Prayer

  • Jesus modeled 1 Thees 5:17: He prayed “without ceasing”
  • Jesus was “often” alone in prayer (Luke 5:16)

C) Motivation & Rest

  • Nobody had to wake Jesus up and tell Him to get moving: in the morning, He was already gone! Jesus was a man of action! (Mk. 1:35-38)
  • However, Jesus was also able to rest when needed. (Mt. 8:24, Mk. 6:31). Jesus was active, but not driven, knowing that rest was just as integral to success as was activity.

2. A Leader of People

  • “How do you know that you are a leader? … People are following you!”

A. Jesus knew His mission (Mk. 1:35-38, Luk 9:51)

B. Jesus wasn’t overly influenced by peer-pressure (unlike Saul) (John 11:14-16)

C. Jesus was able to break with tradition (Mat. 5:27-48)

D. Jesus was able to put someone in their place (when their ideas didn’t fit with “the mission”) Mat. 16:21-23)

E. He was able to get angry, even violent for a just-cause (Jn. 2:14-17)

F. He could take orders from His superiors (Luke 22:42) and communicate with His subordinates (John 15:15)

Up to this point, I have described a good leader. I think if we examine the lives of some of the great leaders of the past — Alexander the Great, Ghandi, Napoleon, Winson Churchill, and the like, we would find a lot of points of similarity.

However, it is in this next point where Jesus’ contribution sets Him apart from all other leaders. It is here that Jesus has really changed leadership as we know it to something new and revolutionary.

3. Servant Leadership

Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mat. 20:26-28)

And later, Jesus washed His disciples feet (an incredibly low action, done only by the lowest of slaves!) explaining, “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:13-14)

In summary, Jesus’ style of leadership is:

A. Very self-consciously accepting the role as leader (“you call me teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am“)

B. Seeing leadership as primarily about serving others (“if I then, your teacher and Lord have done this, you do likewise.”)



Jesus’ example is a very positive thing. How can we grow to be more like Him?

  1. Are you afraid to lead
  • Some of us are afraid to lead
  • Our culture, which mistrusts strong leaders, does not make it easy to lead
  • Perhaps we need to hear to words of God to Joshua (Joshua 1:7,9) and to Gideon (Judges 6:12) spoken over us: “Be strong, mighty warrior! Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous — for the Lord your God is with you!”

2. Are you leading like Jesus would?

  • For some, leadership is easy: service is hard!
  • Where is your heart? Are you caring for, serving, loving those under you?
  • One may say, “This sort of leadership doesn’t sound very fun! As a servant-leader, I have all of the responsability, and none of the benefits!
    • This is true! Which is why Jesus said that a leader must “become a servant of all”
    • However, Jesus also said that, “those who seek to keep their lives will lose them, but those who lay down their lives will keep them.” (Mat. 20:24-28) What we will find is that as we lay down our lives for others, we will find other joys, and passions, and rewards in this style of leadership
    • The world is aching for servant-leaders like this.

3. The Secret Warrior

  • Character cannot be faked for long!
  • The sins of some are evident, the sins of others follow behind (1 Tim. 5:24)
  • …but all sins can be forgiven!
  • I want to end by encouraging you to fight
    • Fight your demons, find victory over your temptations
    • However, do not fight only on your own strength!
    • Reach out for brothers/sisters who can be trusted, to help in the battle, knowing we all struggle in similar ways (1 Cor. 10:13)
    • Reach out for grace and forgiveness!


Closing Prayer




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