During His time on earth, Jesus demonstrated a radically different leadership style than most of us are used to experiencing.
And He calls all of us, especially those who are gifted in the area of leadership, to follow in His footsteps.
So what are the characteristics of Jesus’ radically different leadership style, and how do we follow his example?
Gayle Erwin’s profound book, The Jesus Style, thoroughly answers that question.
The Jesus Style begins with an acknowledgement that Jesus, the Savior of the world, lived in a most unconventionally humble way.
“When I look at the clues…that indicate the nature of Jesus — born in a barn, questionable parents… owning nothing, and dying a shameful death — I find his whole approach unable to fit into the methods that automatically come to mind when I think about ‘winning the world,’” writes the author, Gayle Erwin.
Written in the 1980s, this simple book offers a brief study of Jesus’ lifestyle on earth and seeks to apply core concepts of that lifestyle to modern society and leadership.
Erwin himself is a disciple of Jesus’ servant lifestyle. He has spent much of his life traveling around the world and teaching about God’s desire to use ordinary people to further His kingdom.
Jesus seemed to “lead with weakness” in every area of His earthly life. He performed miracles in service to others, declined the role of king, and died in a humiliating and painful way.
“He had nothing in the world,” writes Erwin. But that wasn’t the defining mark of Jesus’ ministry.
“[He had] everything in God and the Spirit,” the book continues. Because Jesus was fully reliant on His Father and fully covered by the Spirit, He didn’t need to lean on the world’s definition of strength and power.
It’s tempting for us as humans to pursue worldly power and validation, but The Jesus Style reminds us that if we truly seek to follow Jesus, we have to imitate His way of life.
“Jesus has authorized only one identifying mark of his followers,” writes Erwin, and he asserts that this identifying mark is “love for one another.” Rather than pursuing power and strength, we as Christians are to emphasize love and humility in our lives.
“It does not take long for me to realize that I am a hopelessly selfish, unloving person without the presence and power of Christ within me,” admits Erwin. Many of us would echo his sentiments.
“[But] Jesus’ servanthood to the disciples made his love clear,” continues the book, and it goes on to discuss how we can follow Jesus’ example in this regard.
It’s crucial for us to focus on loving God and loving others if we want to have an effective witness and leadership style in the world. If we are united as the body of Christ, we will prove the validity of Christ’s claims in a compelling way.
“So the greatest must be…a servant,” says the book. This mindset of humility and servitude is radically different from our modern culture’s perception of success.
“How totally opposed to all of my natural leanings. My culture teaches me that if I follow the clean-living precepts of Christianity, God will reward me with prosperity and with a consistent rise in status until I become boss, maybe even president,” writes Erwin.
“How strange that the true nature of Jesus would be so different from my ambitious view,” he admits.
But it’s true: Jesus is more humble than we could imagine, but He is also more powerful than we could ever dream.
So instead of clinging to power and striving for control, we should surrender to Him and bow to His leadership first in our lives.
“Humility provides the answer for us. We are not God. So we can quit trying to be him and, in our finiteness, trying to solve all the world’s problems,” concludes Erwin.
What happens after we surrender control and headship to Jesus?
That’s what the rest of The Jesus Style addresses. Throughout the book, Erwin discusses God’s glory, sacrifice, the nature of obedience, and more.
The Jesus Style is easy to read and widely applicable to everyday life as a Christian. It’s a thoughtful and inspiring look at a life lived in imitation of Jesus.