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Leadership Part 5 – A Good Example

Part five in a series about developing leadership potential in students

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools


To consider the example of Jesus as a servant leader.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the students if they can remember any of the leadership qualities that were discussed in previous assemblies.

    Ask them to think of someone whom they consider to be a good leader. This could be someone famous or someone the students know personally.

    Explain that today’s assembly will consider Jesus as a good leader.

  2. Point out that leaders often tend to be eloquent and powerful in how they speak. During elections, we often hear candidates spell out their beliefs and intentions with great persuasion and emotion. Let’s listen to one of Jesus very first speeches.

    Narrator 1: Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .
    Narrator 2: Poor in spirit? You mean weak, downtrodden, without a voice? Blessed? Does that mean theyre supposed to be happy like that?
    Narrator 1: . . . for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Narrator 3: Blessed are those who mourn . . .
    Narrator 2: Those who mourn? You mean people who are very ill, or have lost jobs or loved ones, and people who are facing death?
    Narrator 3: . . . for they shall be comforted.
    Narrator 1: Blessed are the meek . . .
    Narrator 2: You mean the quiet and gentle, the easily imposed on, the submissive? They certainly won’t get far in this world.
    Narrator 1: . . . for they will inherit the earth.
    Narrator 3: Blessed are the merciful . . .
    Narrator 2: Yes, that sounds OK, but some people don’t deserve mercy, like bullies and prisoners and terrorists.
    Narrator 3: . . . for they will be shown mercy.
    Narrator 1: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake . . .
    Narrator 2: So youre saying that folks who are being hassled for their beliefs, for their lifestyle, should be happy?
    Narrator 1: . . . for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Narrator 3: Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.
    Narrator 2: Now just hold on a minute!

  3. To say that Jesus’ beliefs and teachings were different is an understatement. He often turned viewpoints completely upside down and left people reeling from the effect of his words. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about being blessed. We tend to use this word to explain our happy state when things are going really well, when unexpected treats and gifts come our way. ‘Blessed’ used here means to be happy, but this happiness is independent of circumstances. It is an internal happiness, experienced as a result of living rightly.

  4. Alongside the words that a leader speaks, it is very important to observe a leader’s actions. No one will ever want to follow someone who says one thing, but does another. There is clear evidence in the stories of Jesus’ life that he practised what he preached. He loved the poor, the dirty, the diseased, the sinful and the outcast, despite the disdain and sometimes hatred shown by the more religious and holy members of the community.

  5. Listen to this story about the last meal that Jesus enjoyed with his disciples.

    Ask the reader to read John 13.4-5 and 12-17 or tell the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in your own words.

    A quality that marked out Jesus’ leadership style was ‘humility’. Humility means not being arrogant and conceited, but rather being unassuming, modest, selfless, respectful and unpretentious.

  6. Humility is not a trait that is common today. For Jesus to get down and wash the dirty feet of his disciples would be a bit like Lord Sugar cleaning the toilets in his offices, or the Queen making the sandwiches for her garden party!

    Jim Collins, an American business analysis expert, attributes humility as one of the keys to a company’s success. He has said, ‘The X-factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.’

  7. Jesus was the ultimate model of humility while he was on Earth. He was a servant leader who considered others needs before his own.

Time for reflection

What would businesses or the world look like if the people in leadership positions saw themselves first as servants? How many leaders have the main aim of serving those around them?

What do you think about this statement: ‘In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others’?

Dear God,
Thinking of ourselves as servants sometimes seems like a strange concept.
Too often, we are by nature self-centred.
Please help us to treat other people well.
Please help us to follow the example of Jesus and to care for all those in need.
Please help us to know the joy of having a servant heart.

Publication date: February 2017   (Vol.19 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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