In searching for an appropriate model for leadership, we cannot do better than to consider the life and ministry of Jesus. As the minister par excellence, Jesus was present and attentive to the needs of those around him while always pointing past himself to his God. His stories and teachings directed his listeners to set their hearts and minds on God (Matthew 5: 16; 6: 9 – 10; 12: 50). In his miracles and his healings, Jesus deflected attention from himself, giving thanks to God (Matthew 9: 8; John 7: 16; 9: 3 – 4; 11: 41 – 42) or praising the faith of those who sought him (Matthew 15: 28; Mark 5: 34).
We can recognise a number of distinctive characteristics in Jesus’ life and mission:
Jesus was always present to those around him, and his words and actions were directed by his awareness of God’s presence.
Jesus’ ministry began with a call to conversion and was marked by continuing conversion.
Jesus’ ministry was grounded in and guided by scripture.
Jesus offered each person a genuine and compelling invitation, an invitation that evoked a genuine response.
Jesus was faithful to his religious tradition while always critiquing and challenging it.
Jesus’ ministry focused on and identified with those at the margins of society.
Jesus ministry embraced the whole person, body and soul.