Jesus knew that his time was short when he gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Feast of Passover. So he got up from the meal and surprised them by setting aside his outer garment and wrapped a towel around his waist like a lowly servant. Then, he proceeded to wash the disciples’ dusty, dirty feet. When Peter objected, Jesus told Peter that he must be washed if he was to have anything to do with Jesus.
When Jesus finished, he returned to the table and questioned the disciples about what had just happened. Jesus told them that they were right to revere him as their Rabbi and Lord, but he went on to explain that leaders in God’s kingdom, must be servants as well as leaders. Then, he commanded them to follow the example he just given them of washing on another’s feet.
The thing that stands out about this passage is not just what Jesus said, but how he said it. In the closing days of Jesus’ earthy ministry, he taught his disciples about the important of humility in leadership. But he did much more than teach them or instruct them to serve others; he modeled it for them. He led by example.
Today’s Christian leaders would do well to support their directives, teaching, or instructions with a consistent example. Leadership is not just what you say, but how you act. It is as true in the conference room as it is in the pulpit – “Practice what you preach.”
Here are some questions to help you lead by example:
Are you sending any mixed messages in your leadership? Are you telling people to do one thing, but then doing another thing yourself? What can you do that fix that?
How can you adjust your leadership style to “show” as much as you “tell?” Are their lessons or principles that you are trying to communicate right now that need to be experience as well as explained?