To the casual observer, it might appear that Jesus was nomadic, wandering dusty roads from village to village, dispensing His humanitarian miracles and pithy sayings—a first century philanthropist who scattered goodness and golden rules like confetti.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was the world’s most strategic planner. In fact, His organizational skills put an endless universe into constant motion. He designed and molded every living cell. He alone crafted the world’s most enduring institutions—the Home and the Church being exhibits A and B.
The honored robes of leadership fit perfectly on this humble carpenter from Nazareth, but the task wasn’t easy. He continually was bucking the status quo while fighting city hall. From the smear campaigns of the Pharisees to the out-of-sync ideas of His disciples, from the condescension of His family and friends to Satan’s most vicious attacks, Jesus was resolute. He knew all that He had to do and how He had to do those things.
Though He was omnipotent, His powerful leadership was, ironically, marked by His limitations. In fact, they became His trademark and continue to serve as the template for every Christian leader since. Mystical they’re not and never were intended them to be, but nobody ever has defined successful ministry better.
First, Jesus limited His time to doing only His Father’s will: “I have accomplished the work You gave me to do”; and He did it unwaveringly, completely, sincerely, willingly, fervently, readily, swiftly and constantly. He had not come from heaven to recite a well-rehearsed script, but to live a life of righteous rebellion. Not only did He preach against sin, but He acted against sin. When His Father’s house was profaned, He flew into action. God’s justice never looked so resolute.
Jesus limited His conversations. Every recorded dialogue was deliberate. No words were wasted; they were customized for each person and audience: “The words which You gave to Me, I have given to them”; and His words struck a cord. To the hurting, He spoke of hope. At a funeral, He spoke of life. To the blind, He spoke of light. To the leper, He offered His touch, and he people loved Him for it.
He limited Himself to a target audience: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” He looked beyond the curiosity seekers and gravitated to the needy. His ministry was one of depth, not breadth. He sequestered His students for in-depth training. He commanded others to “tell no one.” He was unshaken when thousands walked away from His teaching. Even when He had an audience with the political power brokers of His day, “He opened not His mouth.”
Finally, Jesus was careful to train His replacements. “As You have sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” For three years, His protégés heard it all, saw it all and got on-the-job, hands-on experience in dozens of miraculous works. Jesus held nothing back from them. He schooled them in every phase of ministry. They saw Him laugh, weep, teach, pray, challenge, rest, serve, heal, answer and lead. When it was their turn to take leadership, they never asked, “How?” They had learned that secret from the Master.
The model that served so well for the disciples is the same model for us today. Limit yourself to His priorities and you can’t go wrong.