principles of spiritual leadership7 principles of spiritual leadership

When some of the Lord’s disciples became interested in receiving positions of leadership Jesus taught his disciples some basic principles that determine how God distributes leadership. His answer to the mother of James and John provide basic principles in seed-form that are vital to understand and properly apply in the ministry of the gospel.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him 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.” (Matthew 20:20-28)

When the mother of James and John asked Jesus to seat each of them on either side of His throne in the kingdom, she was thinking of a position of dominion and leadership. Evidently, they only wanted a position and status of leadership. We can see the true essence of spiritual leadership in the Lord’s answer.

Leadership is predetermined (v. 21)

The woman asked the Lord to grant her something that he was not willing to guarantee. It is necessary for the Lord to determine, to grant. We do not choose if we will lead or not. We merely obey the call of God. We are not volunteers but called servants.

Leadership is a prepared position (v. 23)

The answer that Jesus gave is that the Father has prepared someone for each position. For God to prepare us means that we have the tools, the gifts and the ability necessary to develop the function of leadership to which He calls us.

Leadership requires a price to be paid (v. 22)

Each position of leadership has its own price. You will never reach the purpose if you fail to pay the price.

The laws of price:

  • There is a price tag for everything that has value
  • You can achieve anything depending on the price that you are willing to pay
  • Not everyone pays the same price. Each one of us has a different cross to carry
  • The more you want something the higher price you will pay
  • If you complain of the price, you will probably give up before you pay it
  • Your talents do not determine your success in life, but the price that you are willing to pay to reach it
  • You will be criticized for paying the price
  • The price never goes down. Each time you are successful the next challenge will be more difficult, the criticisms will be more severe, the tests stronger and the price higher
  • The real price will increase and the perception of the price will decrease when your desire to improve grows and become more and more intimate with God
  • All spiritual payment is made beforehand

Leadership is within every man (v. 24)

The fact that the other disciples became indignant shows the yearning for leadership that existed in all of them. Just as back then, today disciples become indignant with those who want to be great leaders. Jesus did not tell His disciples: “don’t try to be great because that is pride”. He did not say that their aspiration to be great was wrong. He just explained how to arrive, how to become a great leader.

God is pleased when his people desire leadership

We do not know why James and John were among the three closest disciples to Jesus. However we can suppose that one of the reasons was their desire to be great leaders.

This is a faithful saying: if a man desires the position of a Bishop, he desires a good work. (1 Timothy 3:1)

Leadership is not for your own benefit but for the benefit of others (v. 28)

To serve is to seek the interests of the person that you are serving. Therefore, the goal of the leader is not to take advantage of or profit from his followers, but to discover how to contribute to the fulfillment of the full potential of each follower.

Leadership is to fulfill the purpose of benefiting others (v. 28)

The way that the Lord served was by fulfilling the purpose of God. We serve the members of our cell when we serve God, and not the other way around. It would be difficult for someone to say that the Lord was serving His disciples by dying on the cross. However, Jesus served God on the cross by doing His will.

The natural results of this leadership are:

  • Authenticity (the authority comes from the authorization of those who are called)
  • Originality (God’s call is individual)
  • Genuine trust (based on the conviction that the one who calls is also the one who enables and equips)
  • Personal fulfillment (because the fulfillment comes when we fulfill the purpose)
  • Sense of value (because every call of God includes a purpose that has eternal implications)
  • Absence of competition (because of the uniqueness of the call of each one)
  • Absence of jealousy (because each person who has been called has his own value)
  • Absence of fear (because of the conviction of all of the above)