I want to begin the new year reflecting on what it means to Lead like Jesus. Specifically, I invite you to consider what we can learn about leading like Jesus from His death, burial and resurrection. This is the first of several posts I am going to write.

I am convinced more than ever what the church today needs is more pastors and spiritual leaders willing to lead like Jesus in His Death, in His Burial and in His Resurrection. This might be a radical call to a new way of thinking for many of us. Many of us perhaps have the wrong picture of what it means to be a spiritual leader. The highest display of spiritual leadership is not a leader in front of a large crowd amazing them with their awesome gifts. No,  the highest display of spiritual leadership is God on a cross, rejected and despised by the world He loves, and opening salvation to them while they for the most part do not notice. We need spiritual leaders willing to follow Him there. The spiritual leadership journey is not what we think it is and often not what we want it to be.

Matthew 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

When we come to understand that spiritual leadership involves crucifixion and burial and only then resurrection we very often resist it with Peter:

Matthew 16:22–23 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

It is important to understand why Jesus rebukes Peter by calling him Satan. One of Satan’s primary temptations to spiritual leaders is to bypass the necessary journey of cross and burial. Jesus understood Peter’s words to repeat a previous temptation of Satan:

Matthew 4:8–9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Leadership without cross is Satan’s great temptation to pastors. It is important we do not give into Satan’s temptation. We cannot lead in the power of the resurrection if we are unwilling to walk with Him through the pain of crucifixion. We must die to the leadership journey we want so we can live the leadership journey He has for us. To lead like Jesus we must follow Him to the cross. In contrast to Satan’s temptations is Jesus invitation:

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

If these words of Jesus stir something in you, then I invite you to reflect on them with me as we ponder together in this series of posts what it means to lead like Jesus.