Easter is the great feast day of the Church, giving life to all our hope. There is no end to what else could be said about it, but I have never really heard much said about this: the Easter story teaches us about leadership, and specifically the kind of leaders Christ wants in his Church. Think about these lessons:
#1. Begin in prayer.
The whole cycle of Jesus’ passion begins on Thursday with the celebration of the Eucharist and the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Good parish and church leaders are going to take time, however, busy they are, to pray about what they’re going to do. We know that prayer and the sacraments are the fundamentals of what we do, but how often do we consider them as fundamental to our leadership?
#2. Proceed with a spirit of service.
In John 13 we read that Jesus washes the feet of the disciples to underscore that what he is doing is servant leadership, not positional leadership. Whether you’re pastor, parish staff member or volunteer leader, your leadership needs to be first of all, about service.
#3. Big teams need a leadership team.
Jesus chose Peter, James, and John as his senior leadership team within the circle of the twelve apostles. Every effective team, of a dozen or more, needs such a senior leadership team. They need to lead together, and they need to be a cohesive team.
#4. Be under authority before assuming authority.
Hebrews tells us “Though he was a son, he learned obedience by what he suffered.” (5.8) Through the passion and resurrection Jesus places himself willingly under the authority of the Father. In doing so, he gains authority over all things in heaven and earth. The same pattern is true for our leadership. As Church leaders we are under the authority of our bishop, the magisterium, scripture and tradition, even the Pope! We have to conduct ourselves accordingly and let people see it. This in turn builds our own authority.
#5. Lead with the end in mind.
In all the Gospels it is clear Jesus determined to undertake the cross, it is almost in the later part of his ministry he is on a march to the cross. He undertakes his passion and death because he is clear about the end he has in mind. Good leadership is like that…what are we trying to accomplish with what we’re doing? At Nativity we like to say we want to love God, love others, and make disciples and help other churches to do the same. We approach everything we do and consider doing from the perspective of that end.