Three UnCommon Leadership Lessons From Jesus

In Christian RealTalk by Antwuan Malone

There’s been much ink spilled on leadership lessons from Jesus. I’ve read through many of them and they are all helpful in their own right. However, there’s always been a thing or two about the way Jesus led that made me squirm in my seat a bit. Sure, servant leadership (the primary leadership model from Jesus’ life) is enough to make most of us squirm in our seats because it flies in the face of the secular definition of leader (though, it seems the servant leadership pill is becoming easier to swallow by non-Christians with each passing day.) Most of the time, leading is associated with power and influence.

Today, I thought we’d take a different approach to Jesus’s leadership footsteps. I thought of three uncommon lessons from Jesus’s life and leadership. I suppose it’s an encouraging list, really. After all, if these issues plagued Jesus and we feel them too (because we are being obedient to God), then I suppose we’re in good company, yes?

Anyway, so without further ado…

1.  Loneliness

Ah, this is true. We could say Jesus was never alone, that he always had God the Father and the Holy Spirit accompanying him, and we’d be right. Still, loneliness here means to address the absence of the physical companionship of people. You may say, he had the twelve with him all the time… to which I’d say, look at the scriptures again. Time and time again, Jesus is away and alone with the Father in prayer. And in the most crucial of moments, when his companions were most needed. He was deserted.

The spiritual leader is often given vision, a message, or a word that will frustrate the comfort levels of those they lead. And he is often given this in private moments, in private conversation. This is one reason it is so necessary to steal away to hear the voice of God. So often, what he says will cause those closest to misunderstand, lose trust in, or even abandon you.

Jesus’s life shows us that sometimes spiritual leadership alienates you from those you love in order to give you what you need to do His will. The path of a leader, even a spiritual leader, is often lonely in the times when you feel you most need others beside you. Still, we can be of good cheer. God will never leave or forsake. And as long as we are in the will of God, our sacrifices are not in vain. A great community awaits us on the other side of Glory, which none will be able to pluck away from us.

2.  Misunderstood

I’m not going to lie, this is the most comforting of the three to me. As a communicator (writer and speaker) being “understood” is a strong desire. To be able to communicate passions, ideas, and strategies effectively is a skill most leaders would love to perfect. Jesus is often given the title of “master communicator,” and I’m not here to challenge that title. But the record does seem to show that his twelve disciples, while living and listening to Him for three years, didn’t really understand half of what he said until after his resurrection.

I think that’s interesting.

Jesus was misunderstood for most his ministry by those closest to him, and those who should have known better (the pharisees). It’s safe to say that as a leader, you will be misunderstood as well. And that, sometimes, no matter how clearly and consistently you state something… people are just not ready to hear it. And that the job of a spiritual leader is simply to say what God is leading him/her to say, and leave the rest for God to work out. He will reveal his truths to whom he wills at the appropriate time.

3.  Burden

This one is probably pretty common, actually. But it bears mentioning. Vision is a world leaders use when we have a view of the big picture. Visions are inspiring and motivating. Visions are like massive stars in the sky leading us the salvation, like the star we talk about at Christmas with the wise men. But soon after you begin, vision becomes a burden. It seems that, as a spiritual leader, the more God reveals to you, the greater the burden.

Look, burdens are “negative” per se, so don’t hear that. In fact, the burden is good because we should not look at the state of the world and be at ease with ourselves. Visions solve problems… the problems that add weight to the burdens leaders carry. When Jesus says to “take up our cross and follow him, ” he’s not kidding. The love of God, sweet and peaceful, comes also with a burning passion to do our part in acting in concert with God’s mission to save the world… because we love the world the same way God does.

If you are a leader, expect a burden, but also expect the Spirit of God to strengthen you where you feel weak.


What are some uncommon leadership lessons you’ve learned from Jesus’ life?  Tell us about them.

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry ( where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.