Being new leader isn’t very easy.
We get so many things wrong and get so mixed up. The first day on the job is exhausting for any position, but then to have to perform in front of an audience.
Everyone gets to see us struggle and try remember everything at the same time.
People’s names, and the timing and what comes next and who needs something all the while someone else is telling us that our phone is ringing.
Then suddenly it is over and we are exhausted.
Everyone is so polite and telling us that we did a great job, but really we know in our hearts that somehow we didn’t quite measure up.
Are we naive to think that we could put an event together or stand up in front of a crowd and speak? Who knew leading an event could be so hard?
Other people make it look so easy.
Why would anyone want to try this at all?
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Jesus Christ taught his followers about being a Christian leader. He didn’t leave the entire leadership team of the church without any instructions.
One of the keys to Bible study is to examine the context of what is written. I believe that if you study the whole of Luke 10, then it becomes obvious that the parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of Mary and Martha, and the Lord’s Prayer are part of the leadership lesson that Christ was teaching his 72 followers.
What Jesus taught his Disciples about being leaders
In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 newly minted evangelists to go out in teams of two to proclaim the kingdom of God. Read Luke 10.
He gave them simple instructions and warned them that they would face opposition.
The evangelists returned with great joy. They were very happy at the success of their work and the authority Jesus had given them over demons.
Then Jesus corrects their idea of leadership.
Jesus tells them that they should rejoice that their names were written in heaven.
They are to get excited that they are saved. Or bluntly, they are to rejoice that Jesus is saving them and God is leading them, rather than being leaders themselves.
Right after this lesson, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, leads them in a time of rejoicing and worship of God in verses 21-24.
Jesus rejoiced in what God was doing.
Can you see the difference?
Christian leaders rejoice in God and not the success of their following or their work.
What Luke taught his readers being leaders
Luke records the the story of the 72 followers going out to work as part of a larger discussion on what it means to follow Jesus.
In Luke 10:1-24 is the account of the 72 followers, the leadership lesson and the example of Jesus rejoicing in the Father. Immediately following Luke records the story of the good Samaritan.
“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” or How do I know if my name is written in heaven? This question links the story of the good Samaritan to the previous leadership lesson.
If I am to rejoice that I am saved, then how do I know that I am saved?
The answer is found in the story of the Good Samaritan.
Is the love and mercy of God flowing out of your life to everyone you meet? Are you serving the people that you come into contact with?
If Jesus is a picture of the Good Samaritan, rescuing you out of your situation, then are you doing the same for others?
If you are, then your name is written in heaven.
What Jesus taught Martha being a leader
Then Luke records the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.
Only Luke records this story of Mary and Martha. It is one of the most referred to Christian women’s Bible study passages.
Luke records this passage because he is still teaching us about Christian leadership.
The good Samaritan served the man who fell among robbers. Jesus used that lesson to teach the lawyer about who is saved and has eternal life.
Immediately there is a story about Martha who is also serving Jesus. But Martha is distracted with much serving.
Martha is a natural leader. She welcomes Jesus into her home. She is overseeing the food and arrangements.
But she has forgotten why she is serving. She is anxious and troubled. Martha has so much to do and wants Mary to start helping her.
In her anxiety she tries to get Jesus to correct Mary.
Jesus gently reminds her. Mary has chosen the good portion.
Psalm 16:5 (ESV)
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.”
It is possible to be so focused on serving that we lose sight of our own dependence on Jesus.
What Jesus taught his disciples about sitting at his feet
The very next passage in the Gospel of Luke is the Lord’s prayer.
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray like he did.
Jesus taught them about how they should pray. How they should call on the Father to hallow his name, to bring in his kingdom, to provide all that they need.
The disciples were to ask God to provide for them whatever they needed to serve him.
First the disciples were to be like Mary, then they were to go out and be like Martha.
They were to pray and seek after the Father and then they were to serve their neighbours like the good Samaritan. As they served, their focus and joy was to be on how great was their own salvation.
How Mary became a leader
So what happens when people actually do this? What happened to Mary after she sat at Jesus’ feet?
Mary determined to commit an act of love and service for Jesus.
The answer is in John 12:1 – 8.
There was another dinner and Martha was serving. Lazarus was there. Mary took her expensive perfume, anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair.
This time it is Judas who is concerned about Mary. “Why was all this expensive ointment being poured out?”
Notice that Mary is still at Jesus’ feet and that she is serving Jesus.
Jesus called her service “a beautiful thing” in Matt 26:6 – 13. Mary is commended by Jesus and he promises that she will be remembered for all time because of her service.
That is incredible.
Mary, without intending to be, became an example to millions of people. She led the way and showed us what we need to be like to be true Christian leaders.
Leaders need to be sitting at Jesus’ feet.
Mary and Martha
Many Christian leaders reduce the lessons of Mary and Martha into some self-help paradigm to defeat worry and anxiety.
Or worse, they limit this incredible story to teaching time management and priorities.
Luke:10:38 – 42 is more than a lesson for North American women to stay at home and attend church Bible studies.
Some people get creative and spend their lessons trying to embellish the story. But they ignore the overarching context. They don’t ask the question “Why did Luke put this passage in the Bible?” Or “What is the context?”
Luke is not teaching us about a passive Mary and condemning a busy Martha. He is teaching us about the kind of Christian leader that Jesus Christ raises up and uses to accomplish the Father’s will. That is the point of the story.
Are you that kind of a leader?
What if you started sitting at Jesus’ feet?
And earnestly called out to God in the Lord’s Prayer?
Rejoicing before the Father that your name is written in heaven?
When the 72 followers of Jesus came back from their work, Jesus had to help them refocus on the Father. Mary didn’t need to refocus and was commended for her simple service.
Without intending to, Mary of Bethany became a leader.
That’s how powerful our God is.
Now here is the most crazy part of all.
Jesus taught his followers not only how to be leaders, but also how to teach!
Jesus sent the 72 followers out with plain instructions about their work.
When they returned he gently helped them to refocus on the goodness of the God. Then he lead them in a time of praise and rejoicing himself.
Next, Jesus teaches using a parable and then teaches using an ordinary event.
Finally, Jesus gives some formal instruction about prayer.
Summary of How Jesus Taught From Luke 10 and 11
- Clear instructions on how to evangelize (verses 1 – 16).
- Gentle refocus reminder to praise God for salvation (verses 17 – 20).
- Led followers in praising God (verses 21 – 24).
- Parable about who has eternal life (Good Samaritan).
- Used an ordinary event to informally teach (Mary and Martha).
- Formal instruction about prayer (Lord’s Prayer).
We are to teach and lead the same way.
We are to:
- give clear instructions about how to do something
- help gently to correct
- be an example
- use parables
- use informal life events
- formally teach
Formal teaching is only one way to be a leader. Mary became a leader because she was an example.
Maybe you formally teach. That is great. Please make sure that you also take advantage of the other five ways to lead.
If you don’t formally teach, then please consider the other ways that Jesus lead and taught.
THE ONE IMPORTANT THING EVERY CHRISTIAN LEADER NEEDS TO DO:
Sit a Jesus’ feet and praise God that your own name is written in heaven.
I believe that you can do this.
Anyone who is sitting regularly at Jesus’ feet will be used as some kind of Christian leader.
Keep your focus on praising God and seeking him in prayer.
Seek first the kingdom of God. Everything else will come.
Start today. Just sit at Jesus’ feet. Be amazed at what is he doing in your life.