January 20, 2021
In the last issue we looked how Jesus modeled the third action in The Serving Leader ModelTM*, Blaze the Trail. He helped His team succeed by defining success and removing obstacles from them. Jesus was also a master team builder. As He sent out the disciples, He deliberately maximized the strengths of each of them and models the next action, Build on Strength.
1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:1-4, 17-20).
With only a quick glance at this story, it seems like Jesus was simply accomplishing a task through others. But let’s look more closely at how He was building His team by focusing on individual strengths.
Serving leaders recognize the value of working as a team.
Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, not alone. Jesus could have sent them to 72 individual locations but He chose to build on strengths by creating 36 teams. He recognized that bringing two people together to accomplish the mission was not a waste of time and energy but a multiplication of strengths. The unique gifts and abilities of each person would be complemented by their partner. One of them might be able to quickly strike up a conversation with a stranger while the other was able to more clearly articulate their mission. One might be strong in relating to people and the other might be strong in logistics. Jesus deliberately chose teams that would maximize the strengths of those He called.
Serving leaders value individual strengths that are complemented by working in synergy with others. Serving leaders recognize that they will never personally have all strengths, but they can build a team that is well balanced with different strengths. They recognize that teamwork will make the dream work.
Serving leaders align strengths with the responsibilities of the team.
As Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, He was very clear that they were responsible for His mission. They were to teach and heal. They were preparing the way for Jesus. He instructed them not to be distracted even with good things like greeting people along the way! He recognized that sending them out as teams with different strengths would more fully accomplish their great purpose. One might be distracted by greeting another person on the road but their teammate could bring their focus back to their mission.
Serving leaders learn to know the strengths of their team. Then, they deliberately and methodically work to align their team with individual strengths so that the mission will be accomplished.
Serving leaders encourage continued growth and development of their team.
When the disciples returned after a successful mission they were filled with joy. Jesus was grateful for their accomplishments, but immediately begins to help them gain a better perspective. He lifts their eyes from current successes to their higher purpose. Jesus is investing in their continued growth. His focus is on preparing this group to take over after He left. He gave them one assignment to prepare them for greater responsibilities. Like Jesus, serving leaders think of the future and continue to invest in the growth and development of their team. Serving leaders are not threatened by the advancement of others, they encourage it! They recognize that there is no success without a successor. They equip their teams to build on the strengths of each person so that future achievements will be greater than present victories.
For further reflection and discussion:
- Read the entire passage of Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-24. Reflect on what He was doing as a leader and how it demonstrates building on strength.
- What additional examples from the life of Jesus can you think of that show His ability to build on strengths?
- In my leadership, do I tend to give individual assignments or team assignments? When I form teams, do I evaluate the strengths needed for the task and then assign people on that basis?
- Have I recognized my own strengths and weaknesses and deliberately brought others around me to complement my areas of weakness? If not, why not and what steps can I take this week to change? If so, how has that impacted my leadership and how has it impacted those I lead?
- Am I developing my team only to accomplish tasks or am I equipping them for success after my leadership is completed? How does the example of Jesus challenge my thinking about future success?
Until next time, yours on the journey,
In the next issue, we’ll look at how Jesus upended the pyramid as He sent His disciples.
Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership 2020.
*The Serving Leader ModelTM, was developed by Dr. John Stahl-Wert, author of “The Serving Leader.” See www.CenterForServingLeadership.com for more information.