Good Leadership—Where Can We Find It?
“EVERY house is constructed by someone,” states the Bible, “but he that constructed all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4; Revelation 4:11) Since the true God, Jehovah, is our Creator, he “well knows the formation of us.” (Psalm 103:14) He has full knowledge of our limitations and needs. And because he is a loving God, he wants to satisfy those needs. (Psalm 145:16; 1 John 4:8) Our need for good leadership is no exception.
Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah declared: “Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.” (Isaiah 55:4) The solution to today’s leadership crisis involves identifying this Leader—appointed by the Almighty himself—and accepting his leadership. Who, then, is this foretold Leader and Commander? What are his credentials as a leader? Where would he lead us? What must we do to benefit from his leadership?
The Promised Leader Arrives
Some 2,500 years ago, the angel Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel and told him: “You should know and have the insight that from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks. She will return and be actually rebuilt, with a public square and moat, but in the straits of the times.”—Daniel 9:25.
Clearly, the angel was informing Daniel of the specific time for the coming of Jehovah’s chosen Leader. “Messiah the Leader” would appear at the end of 69 weeks, or 483 years, counting from 455 B.C.E., when the word went out to rebuild Jerusalem.* (Nehemiah 2:1-8) What happened at the end of that period? The Gospel writer Luke relates: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was district ruler of Galilee [29 C.E.], . . . God’s declaration came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. So he came into all the country around the Jordan, preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins.” At that time, “the people were in expectation” of Messiah the Leader. (Luke 3:1-3, 15) Although crowds came to John, he was not that Leader.
Then in about October of 29 C.E., Jesus of Nazareth came to John to be baptized. And John bore witness, saying: “I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.’ And I have seen it, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34) At his baptism, Jesus became the anointed Leader—the Messiah, or Christ.
Yes, the promised “leader and commander to the national groups” proved to be Jesus Christ. And when we examine his qualities as a leader, we readily discern that his leadership greatly exceeds the modern-day requirements of an ideal leader.
The Messiah—An Ideal Leader
A good leader gives clear direction and helps people under his care to gain personal strength and resources so that they can solve problems successfully. ‘This is a requisite for the successful 21st century leader,’ says the book 21st Century Leadership: Dialogues With 100 Top Leaders. How well Jesus prepared his listeners to handle day-to-day situations! Just consider his most famous discourse—the Sermon on the Mount. Rich in practical advice are the words recorded in Matthew chapters 5 through 7.
Consider, for example, Jesus’ advice on settling personal differences. He said: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24) Taking the initiative in making peace with others takes first priority—even over performing a religious duty, such as presenting gifts on the temple altar in Jerusalem as required by the Mosaic Law. Otherwise, acts of worship are unacceptable to God. Jesus’ advice is as practical today as it was centuries ago.
Jesus also helped his listeners to avoid the snare of immorality. He admonished them: “You heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28) What a fitting warning! Why should we start down the road toward committing adultery by entertaining thoughts about it? Out of the heart come fornication and adultery, said Jesus. (Matthew 15:18, 19) We are wise to safeguard our heart.—Proverbs 4:23.
The Sermon on the Mount also contains excellent advice on loving one’s enemies, on displaying generosity, on having the proper view of material and spiritual things, and the like. (Matthew 5:43-47; 6:1-4, 19-21, 24-34) Jesus even showed his audience how to seek God’s help by teaching them how to pray. (Matthew 6:9-13) Messiah the Leader strengthens and prepares his followers to deal with problems common to mankind.
Six times in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduces his statements with the expression “you heard that it was said” or “moreover it was said,” but he then presents another idea, saying “however, I say to you.” (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 31-34, 38, 39, 43, 44) That indicates that his listeners were accustomed to acting in a certain way, according to the oral Pharisaic traditions. But Jesus was now showing them a different way—one that reflected the true spirit of the Mosaic Law. Jesus was thus introducing a change, and he did this in a way that made it easy for his followers to accept. Yes, Jesus moved people to make dramatic changes in their lives, spiritually and morally. This is a mark of a true leader.
A management textbook points out how difficult it is to bring about such a change. It says: “The change agent [leader] needs the sensitivity of a social worker, the insights of a psychologist, the stamina of a marathon runner, the persistence of a bulldog, the self-reliance of a hermit, and the patience of a saint. And even with all those qualities, there is no guarantee of success.”
“Leaders must behave the way they wish their followers would behave,” noted an article entitled “Leadership: Do Traits Matter?” Indeed, a good leader practices what he preaches. How true that was of Jesus Christ! Yes, he taught those with him to be humble, but he also provided an object lesson for them by washing their feet. (John 13:5-15) He did not just send out his disciples to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom, but he exerted himself vigorously in that work. (Matthew 4:18-25; Luke 8:1-3; 9:1-6; 10:1-24; John 10:40-42) And in the matter of responding to leadership, Jesus set an example. “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative,” he said about himself, “but only what he beholds the Father doing.”—John 5:19.
The foregoing consideration of what Jesus said and did clearly shows that he is the ideal Leader. In fact, he exceeds all human standards for good leadership. Jesus is perfect. Having received immortality following his death and resurrection, he lives forever. (1 Peter 3:18; Revelation 1:13-18) What human leader can match these qualifications?
What Must We Do?
As the reigning King of God’s Kingdom, “Messiah the Leader” will shower blessings upon obedient mankind. In this regard the Scriptures promise: “The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11) “They will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble.” (Micah 4:4) “God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
The world today is experiencing a leadership crisis. Jesus Christ, though, is leading meek ones into a peaceful new world, where obedient mankind will be united in the worship of Jehovah God and will press forward toward perfection. How vital it is that we take time to gain knowledge of the true God and his appointed Leader and act in harmony with that knowledge!—John 17:3.
One of the finest compliments we can pay a person is to imitate him. Should we not then try to imitate the greatest Leader in human history—Jesus Christ? How may we do so? What impact will accepting his leadership have on our lives? These questions and others will be discussed in the following two articles.
See pages 186-92 of the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy!, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Picture on page 4]
Daniel foretold the coming of God’s chosen Leader
[Pictures on page 7]
Jesus’ teachings prepared people to deal with life’s problems
[Picture on page 7]
Jesus will lead obedient mankind into a peaceful new world