Ever wonder if Paul had a list of best practices? His leadership acumen is beyond reproach as is evidenced in the fact that he authored the majority of the New Testament letters. There are so many life lessons and directives contained in each one of his letters for us to explore and imitate as follows of Jesus who long to lead like Jesus did. What if we could put to memory some key directives that are summed up in one chapter? Good news, in Colossians 3:1-17, Paul gives us 7 clear guidelines which are all fueled by a choice point.
Pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Imagine breathing in the Holy Spirit and exhaling any tension in your body. Next, invite the Holy Spirit into your mind and heart as you seek insight and discernment around Paul’s 7 Ways to Lead Like Jesus. As you read through each directive from Paul below, pause and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He desires to teach you. Perhaps you will be moved to do more of a specific behavior and do less of another. Be attentive to what God desires to teach you today:
- “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthy things” (Colossians 3:1-2). Think about the things that God wants you to think about, not the things of the world, the thoughts that fuel worry, self-doubt and fear. As followers of Jesus, think about how Jesus led the disciples, with His head, heart, hands and habits.
- “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthy nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other” (Colossians 3:5-9). Paul is very clear when it comes to the behaviors that do not make God recognizable as a follower of Jesus. He offers us a clear directive around what to put to death, meaning what to stop doing.
- “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). You’ve got to love Paul’s clarity as a writer, he never leaves us in the dark when it comes to direction. Put to death specific behaviors and then he guides us to clothe ourselves with specific virtues which will ultimately fuel behavior that mimic our master Leader and Mentor, Jesus.
- “Forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). One of the first steps in deliverance involves forgiving anyone that you have a grievance against. This is a job for Jesus. Ask Him to show you if there is anyone in your life that you are still giving free rent to between your two ears because of past pain. Forgiveness sets us free. When we do not forgive and hold onto bitterness it’s like drinking poison hoping someone else dies.
- “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14). Love held Jesus to the cross. I remember in college when I first started to anchor my faith in the Lord someone said to me, “If you were the only person on this earth, Jesus would still have died for your sins to set you free.” The mark of a good leader is their willingness to give out their gifts freely even if it is for one person.
- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly” (Colossians 3:15-16). The use of the word “let” suggests that we have a choice to let or not to let. The ramifications of letting the peace of Christ and the word of God dwell in us richly are endless.
- “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). So, whether you set your hearts on things above, put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature, rid yourselves of malice and slander, stop lying, clothe yourselves with humility, put on love, let the peace of Christ and the Word of God dwell in you richly, Paul asserts that we do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him. All things are possible with the strength of God that dwells within us. Remember that the One who calls us is faithful and whatever He calls us to do He will give us the strength to do it.
As you reflect on Paul’s 7 ways to lead like Jesus above, which area is the Holy Spirit moving you to prune for growth? To do more of? Less of? God is after us to transform us into the image of Jesus, to be His ambassadors in a world that desperately needs a Savior. Outshine the darkness.
To dive deeper into leading like Jesus, work through our Lead Like Jesus Revisited 6-Week Study Guide.