When you think about the effect that Jesus Christ had on the world, it’s amazing. Thirty percent of the world’s population today is Christian. That’s 2.2 billion people. I’m often asked why he was so successful in sharing his beliefs. When you consider his teaching was done in the space of three years it’s even more remarkable. Some would say miraculous. I’m not so certain it’s the miracles that make Jesus the Christ. As serving leaders, we can learn much from these three years. Since its Christmas, I thought I would share what I think Jesus did to become one of the most influential people of all time.
1. He was a strong leader. He thought character first, not charisma. He built a strength based organization that allowed his followers to use their own gifts and life experiences. He allowed people to be who they were and then created roles that would match well with their personalities. He helped his people to develop their strengths and work together in teams. He understood the value of every person. He was one of the world’s first leaders to embrace the power and potential of female leaders. His female followers made sure that the message and stories were passed on from generation to generation. They brought the traditions into their homes and communities to help create future Christian leaders. Many of my friends in the ministry tell me how their mothers shared Christ’s story at an early age. They made sure his values were not only taught but lived in their homes, no matter what the economic condition of the family.
2. He understood the value of simple message. When he developed his message, he thought of who would be receiving it. His message came from all he was, but included all the listeners could be. Many of his earliest followers were fishermen and he used stories and metaphors that they would understand and they could pass on to others. Other followers came from varied backgrounds and educations and he charged those people for carry his message in their own unique way. He didn’t force people to sit down and learn many rules and practices. He made it simple for his followers to understand their past while embracing a brighter future. During this time the Romans were crucifying hundreds of people every day throughout the Roman Empire. These were dark times for many people. How to share this message so that it survived beyond his life and works? He always brought it down to simple ideas and used stories to make his points. He spent much time with his earliest disciples teaching them the power of stories and faith.
3. He understood change works in fits and starts. He recognized that as much as people wanted to embrace his teaching, many would falter along the path. As a good leader, he knew that some were not ready for the changes he suggested. He understood forgiveness and the power of creating a culture that could embrace difference and leverage similarities. Not always easy when people would turn on him. He suggested a radical approach to human relationships. Love one another. It doesn’t sound that radical today to due to the work of artists, poets, and song writers, but in his day it was unheard of. During his time there were hundreds of messiahs walking the streets with promises big and small. Christ understood that his message must be supported by creating organizations that would support each other even in the most challenging of times. He had to know the changes he was trying to institute would cost many of his followers their lives and those of family members. Understanding how painful change is he offered tools to help others deal with the change. He taught us to pray, to love, and to forgive and to rise again. These simple tools empowered his followers. It helped create a community that lives beyond their lifetimes.
And finally, Christ understood what it meant to be human. To feel the many emotions that humans feel from joy, love to fear. He was aware that people are always doing the best they can in any given situation. He chose not to judge in their weakest times but to rejoice in their greatest triumphs. This is a great lesson for leaders of any generation. Help people to be the best that they can be and they will seldom fail you. It’s why we still celebrate his birthday over 2000 years later. It is a mistake that Jesus is only for the many, he is about the power of one person to make a difference in the world.