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Leadership Styles of Prominent Figures in the Bible

Leadership Styles of Prominent Figures in the Bible

Author: Joyce Bott

This tutorial was created for the partial fulfillment of the requirements of EDUC 5P60 - Constructions of Organization (Faculty of Education, Brock University). The objective of this tutorial is to take concepts learned from the course and apply them in a way that people can relate to.  Examples of key concepts in Organizational Leadership Theory will be uncovered in the stories of the Bible.

This tutorial will look at prominent leaders and world powers throughout the Bible. Regardless of religious denomination, there is little dispute that the Bible is the best-selling and most widely distributed book of all time. Whether or not the stories are believed to be true, it offers lessons in leadership that can be learned by educational and business scholars as well as people in everyday life.

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Introduction and Overview

Refer to the Bible Flowchart below (Figure 1.0):


Figure 1.0: The Bible Flowchart


Moving chronologically through the flowchart, some key figures and world powers will be looked at, as they are portrayed in the Bible. These leaders and world powers include:

  1. The Leadership of God (His relationship with Adam, Noah and Abraham)
  2. Moses and the world power of Egypt
  3. King David vs. King Saul
  4. Daniel and the world powers of Babylon and Persia
  5. The Leadership of Jesus

For each item listed, a literary review of the leadership style will be discussed, followed by suggestions on how this style of leadership applies to organizations of today. In most cases, a supplementary video will be provided for optional viewing to help illustrate the spirit of the times in which these leaders lived.

Upon reaching the end of this tutorial, feel free to test your understanding of the material presented by taking the short quiz on the right side of this screen.

NOTE: Any advertisements seen after the quiz are not associated with this tutorial.



1.0 The Leadership of God

In the book of Genesis, God creates the earth, and fills it with plants and creatures as well as humans in his image. Based on Weber's 3 types of authority: 1. Rational-legal Authority; 2. Traditional Authority; and 3. Charismatic Authority (1924), God's authority is a combination of Traditional Authority, where His actions can be compared to that of a strict father; and Charismatic Authority, where obedience is demanded based on His supernatural and omnipotent powers.

God's leadership style can be described as Transactional (Burns, 1978) in the sense that God gives instructions to his people and only intervenes when objectives are not met or when a covenant has been broken. Burns calls this Management-by-Exception (1978). The reward for people who meet God's objectives and are obedient to God, is eternal life. For the most part, God is generous with people who keep His rules but He intervenes with severe punishment when His rules are not followed, thus utilizing Coercive Power (French & Raven, 1959). For example, in response to Adam eating fruit from the forbidden tree, God says: "Cursed is the ground because of you! It will yield you thorns and thistles. In painful toil will you eat from it all the days of your life until you return to the ground from which you were taken.  For you are dirt and to dirt you will return" (Genesis 3:19).

Another example of God's Coercive Power can be seen in the story of Noah. God floods the earth in response to the corruption of all humankind, "wiping out every living thing from the face of the earth" (Genesis 6:7), with the exception of Noah and his family and a boat full of two of every species of creature in existence. God's harsh actions may be confused with that of a Power Wielder (Burns, 1978), but can not be the case since God's commands are given out of love for his faithful people rather than to meet selfish needs.

God utilizes Reward Power (French & Raven, 1959) in the story of Abraham. Finding favour in Abraham, God makes a covenant with him.  He says that Abraham will have many descendants despite the fact that his wife, Sarah, is barren. Then He goes on to make 3 more promises: 1. A holy and fruitful land to Abraham's descendants; 2. The rise of a royal kingdom from the line of Abraham; and 3. Worldwide blessing. While in her 90's, Sarah gives birth to their first son, Isaac. To test Abraham's faith in God's plan, God instructs Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. After seeing that Abraham intends to follow through with God's instructions against Abraham's own will (Figure 1.1), God stops Abraham and says: "Do not lay your hand on the boy, for now I know that you fear God since you did not withhold your only son from me" (Genesis 22:12). This is another example of God's Coercive Power (French & Raven, 1959).

Figure 1.1: Abraham offers his only son to God

1.1 God's leadership style in current organizations

God's leadership style in the Old Testament is not a good model for organizations of today. In contrast to God, humans are not all-knowing and infallible and they are not in complete control of their outcomes. They must make decisions based on the limited information available to them. Simon calls this concept "bounded rationality" where leaders must simply be satisfied or "satisficed" with using an incomplete picture to make choices, and hope that boundaries of expertise improve in the future (1946).

Rather than sitting in a position of Legal-Rational Authority (Weber, 1924) like many leaders in business organizations, God commands obedience from His people out of the Traditional Authority of a father as well as out of Charismatic Authority of His supernatural powers. As an all-just father figure, when His commands are not followed, He must respond with some form of punishment. However, the punishment is usually followed by some glimmer of hope or promise of redemption for His people in the future (This will be more clear in section 5 of the tutorial). This Transactional Style of Leadership (Burns, 1978) might serve as a useful model in a family setting, but using reward power is recommended over the harsh coercive power displayed by God in the Old testament.

1.2 Supplemental Video: Abraham offers his only son to God

Source: The Bible [Television Series]. (2013). Lightworkers Media.

2.0 Moses and the World Power of Egypt

2.1 Background Information

Several generations pass by after Abraham's death. Abraham's people, the Hebrews, are forced to leave their homes due to famine. They end up moving to Egypt in desperation where they are forced to work as slaves. The Pharaoh of Egypt feels threatened by the exponential growth of the Hebrews and orders that all male infants be drowned in the Nile river. In an attempt to spare baby Moses' life, Moses' mother places him in a floating basket in the Nile. Moses is soon discovered by the Pharaoh's daughter, who vows to raise Moses as one of her own (believing he was sent to her by the Egyptian gods in response to her prayers).

Although Moses grows up in Pharaoh's palace and is treated well, he is aware of his Hebrew roots and feels compassion for the Hebrew slaves. As a young man, Moses witnesses the beating of a Hebrew slave one day and responds by killing the Egyptian persecutor. He flees to the land of Midian where he ends up living as a married man and works as a shepherd. It isn't until he is eighty years old when God appears to him as a burning bush and calls him to his mission of freeing the Hebrews from slavery and leading them into the promised land - the land God promised to Abraham's descendants in the book of Genesis (Genesis 12:1-3).

Moses begins his negotiations with the Pharaoh with a reasonable request of letting the Hebrew slaves have a three day rest from work to go into the desert for prayer and worship to God.  When Pharaoh denies this request and responds by increasing the workload of the Hebrew slaves, God begins sending Egypt a series of 10 plagues along with continual pleas from Moses to let his people go. It isn't until after the tenth plague where God sends the angel of death to kill all first born Egyptian males, sparing the firstborn of the Hebrews (Passover), where Pharaoh gives in to Moses's request and lets the Hebrews go. As Moses leads his people out of Egypt, Pharaoh changes his mind in anger over losing his son. He sends his army to chase after the Hebrews, only to get swallowed up in the Red Sea after the Hebrews have passed through it unharmed. Moses leads 600,000 Hebrews into the desert for 40 years of spiritual preparation and cleansing before entering into the promised land.

Figure 2.0: Moses and his brother, Aaron, in Pharoah's court

2.2 Moses as a Transformational Leader vs. Pharaoh as a Power Wielder

In the story of Exodus, the Hebrews are living as slaves in Egypt under the domination of Pharaoh. Pharaoh's style of leadership is that of a Power Wielder (Burns, 1978) where he commands his people in order to meet his own personal needs. This is apparent in his order to drown all infant males in the Nile river, in response to the rapidly growing population of Hebrews which he sees as a threat to his power. His organization is bureaucratic in that it is hierarchical in structure (Weber, 1924).  At the top of the hierarchy is Pharaoh who received his authority through tradition, where his title was passed down to him from his father who preceded him as Pharaoh. Next in power would be the Pharaoh's primary wife, followed by his heir, his royal family, and then his chief advisor - the Vizier. Pharaoh's approach with the Hebrews is to treat them like machines using division of labour methods (Smith, 1776; Fayol, 2007). He assigns them a particular task and they continue to do the same task all day, everyday. If a labourer is unable to produce, they are beaten or killed and then replaced if necessary. His relationship with the Hebrews is transactional (Burns, 1978) in the sense that he commands them to work without question and in return they receive food and shelter for their families. Pharaoh treats the labourers with a Theory X mentality (McGregor, 1957), where they need to be supervised, controlled, forced and threatened at all times to do the work necessary. 

In contrast to Pharaoh, Moses' leadership style is transformational. It occurs when "one or more persons engage with each other in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality" (Burns, 1978, p. 20).  Moses reminds the Israelites of their identity: "When the Lord, your God, brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,...take care not to forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. The Lord God shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear" (Deuteronomy 6:10). Not only does Moses continually remind his people of their identity as God's chosen people (rather than Pharaoh's slaves), he realizes that he must help them transform from their polytheistic habits under the 400 years of influence in Egypt, to a monotheistic life under God. This is apparent when Moses appeals to God and intercedes for the people of Israel when they have clearly broken God's covenant by worshipping a golden calf.  God wants to obliterate the Hebrews, but Moses reminds God of his covenant with the people: “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever’” (Exodus 32:13). Moses advocates for his people to point of sacrificing himself: " "But now, if You will, forgive their sin-- and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!" (Exodus 32:32). As a result, God relents in His anger and lets the Hebrews live, but as a punishment for their disobedience He decrees they will not live long enough to enter the promised land, this will be reserved for the next generation of descendants.

Moses has a tough job leading his people in the desert. Although they have been freed from bondage and abuse in Egypt, they continue to complain, "If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt, there we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death” (Exodus 16:3). Even when God rains manna and quail from heaven in response to the people, they continue to grumble and be disobedient to God. McGregor states "Man is a wanting animal - as soon as one of his needs is satisfied, another appears in its place" (1957, p. 231). 

In order to deal with the problems of 600,000 people, Moses uses a decentralized system of management (Follet, 1927).  Judicial authority is delegated to some of his most capable people and he allows them to participate in decision-making: "He picked out able men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. They rendered decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but the lesser cases they settled themselves" (Exodus 18:25-27).

2.3 Moses' Leadership Style in Current Organizations

Moses' style of Transformational Leadership is an ideal model for organizations of today.  With transformational leadership, the relationship of leaders and followers is strengthened in that both seek to help each other rise to higher levels of motivation and morality. Moses continually reminds his people of their purpose and vision. He learns that its not enough to simply provide for their physiological and social needs. As McGregor states, "A satisfied need is not a motivator of behaviour" (1993, p. 231). Instead, Moses tries to get the people to look past their human needs and get them to start trusting God.  He tries to get them to assume their identity as God's chosen people.

Moses is not afraid of delegating authority to elicit participation and collaboration in his people. As a transformational leader, he advocates for his people and does not try to control them to meet personal or political agendas. Transformational leadership moves people toward organizational objectives while maintaining their dignity. It also encourages people to think outside of the norm and adapt to new concepts. People under this style of leadership are encouraged to apply their gifts and talents in the service of the organization. Whether private or public, profit or non-profit, this kind of leadership would benefit people in all types of organizations.

2.4 Supplementary Video: Moses leads his people out of Egypt

Source: The Bible [Television Series]. (2013). Lightworkers Media.

3.0 King David vs. King Saul

3.1 Background Information

After 40 years in the desert under the leadership of Moses, God decides the Hebrews are finally ready to enter the promised land. Under the leadership of a young man named Joshua, a new generation of Hebrews successfully conquer most of the land of Canaan and move into this promised land. Generations after Joshua, many Hebrews have intermarried with pagan nations against God's wishes.  Many have lost their identity and are worshipping other Gods. Random judges and prophets are chosen by God to help guide the Hebrews through their struggles.  After this goes on for a period of 200 years, the Hebrews ask God for an earthly king to rule them, like all the other nations around them. God agrees to give them a king, but warns them that this king would be different from other kings in the sense that he will have to be obedient to God - their true ruler. God chooses a man by the name of Saul and instructs the prophet, Samuel, to anoint Saul as the first King of the Jews. Saul wins many battles but begins to care more about his own glory than of God's. As a result of being disobedient to God, the royal kingdom is eventually stripped from Saul and his family.  

God chooses a young shepherd, by the name of David, to be the new king. David does not become King until Saul dies, but he wins the hearts of many in Saul's presence, when he kills Goliath - a great warrior from the Philistine army, with his sling. David is successful in all his battles and Saul begins to pursue David in his jealousy over David's popularity. David escapes from Saul and lives in hiding until Saul's death. During this time, David gets two chances to kill Saul, but he spares his life out of respect for his authority as King.  When Saul dies in battle, the Hebrews make David their king and David reigns for 40 years.

Figure 3.0: Young David dressed in King Saul's armour before he fights Goliath

3.2 David as a Charismatic Leader vs. Saul as a Power Wielder

Saul begins his kingship as a charismatic leader (Weber, 1924), in the sense that he is strong, handsome and fearless in battle, and the people know he was chosen by God to lead them. After defeating the Ammonites in battle, Saul begins to change his motives as a the leader of the Hebrews. His decisions are based on what will glorify his own name rather than what will glorify God.  His disobedience is uncovered when God instructs Saul to destroy all the Amalekites immediately, leaving no survivors.  Saul can't resist the temptation to make himself look good, so he keeps the conquered king alive so that he could humiliate him in front of his people before killing him.  Upon returning to Israel, he has a monument raised in honour of himself. When Samuel, the prophet calls Saul out on his disobedience to God, Saul tries to make excuses and blame his soldiers.  After Samuel informs Saul that God has stripped the Royal Kingdom from his family name and his descendants, Saul finally confesses but instead of repenting, he asks Samuel to make him look good in front of the people: "I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God" (1 Samuel 15:30).  By the end of Saul's reign, his leadership style turns into that of a Power Wielder (Burns, 1978). Out of jealousy over David's popularity with the people, he pursues David and orders anyone in association with David to be killed. This decision is made not for the welfare of his own people, but for the sake of his own pride.

Upon learning of Saul's death in battle, David is sad and mourns. He does this despite the fact that Saul was in pursuit of him for over a year and ordered his army to hunt David down. In fact, during his time in hiding, David had 2 chances to kill Saul but he refrained. This shows David's respect for Saul's legitimate power (French & Raven, 1993) as King of Israel and as God's anointed one.  When Saul dies, the people make David their king. David is a Charismatic Leader (Weber, 1924) who draws obedience from his people through his heroic actions and victorious battles. Charismatic leaders, however, are not necessarily all good. They are only charismatic due to people perceiving them as has having extraordinary powers. This is apparent when David has an affair with a married woman, Bathsheba, and then sends Bathsheba's husband out to front line battle to be killed. These actions might be perceived to be actions of a Power Wielder, similar to King Saul, but David distinguishes himself from Saul.  When Nathan, the prophet, calls David out on his sin, rather than try to blame others or come up with excuses, David is immediately filled with remorse and admits his mistake. He repents and confesses his sin to God, and resolves to be a better person in the service of God. He shows this in his writing of the Psalms (See Psalms 51).

3.3 Saul and David's Leadership style in current organizations

Saul's power-wielding style of leadership for purpose of self-glory makes him a bad role model for leaders in current organizations. Fayol states that "A good leader should possess and infuse into those around him courage to accept responsibility" (1916, p. 253). Saul fails to take responsibility for his actions. Had he apologized and made a genuine attempt to make amends with God, the royal kingdom might have remained with his family and glorified his name forever.  

David's Charismatic Leadership makes him a hero in the eyes of the Jews. Similar to Saul, David becomes over confident with his status and also sins against God.  However, in contrast to Saul, his response is deep repentance and a desire to make things right again. As a result, the royal kingdom remains with David and his descendants. Organizations may benefit from this style of leadership but should be cautious of these types of leaders becoming over confident and self-centered.


3.4 Supplementary Video: David Fights Goliath

Source: The Bible [Television Series]. (2013). Lightworkers Media.

4.0 Daniel and the world powers of Babylon and Persia

4.1 Background Information

Forty years after the reign of David, the Hebrew nation becomes divided into two-- 1. The northern kingdom of Israel and 2. The southern kingdom of Judah. God permits his chosen nation to fall apart due to their inability to keep His commandments. The Hebrews have intermarried with pagan nations and are worshipping false idols.  Approximately three hundred years later, the kingdom of Israel and Judah are captured and taken away to other countries. God allows other nations to attack the Hebrews due to their continued disobedience and lack of faith. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is conquered by the Assyrians and the Southern kingdom of Judah is conquered by the Babylonians. The Babylonian king, King Nebuchadnezzar, takes the smartest and most talented Hebrews with him to Babylon. Included in this group is a young man by the name of Daniel, a man of faith, prayer and courage. Although he is a captive, he is the only one that can help the king interpret his dreams.  As a result of Daniel's good service, the king makes Daniel one of his chief advisors. Despite the king's efforts to get Daniel and his friends to adapt to Babylonian customs, they stay true to their faith and God's commands. They abstain from food that is not prepared according to God's law and insist on eating only vegetables and water. When asked to worship the giant statue of Nebuchadnezzar, they refuse and Daniel's friends are thrown into a furnace to be burned alive.  God protects them and they come out of the furnace unscathed.

The Babylon power eventually gets overtaken by the Persians. Daniel works hard to serve the new king, Cyrus. Cyrus grows fond of Daniel and they become friends. King Cyrus's soldiers grow jealous of Daniel and convince him to pass a law that orders all people to pray only to the king.  Despite this law, Daniel continues to pray to God and the soldiers arrest him and throw him in a den of lions.  Filled with remorse for creating the law and losing his friend, King Cyrus visits the lion's den the next morning only to find Daniel alive and unharmed.  King Cyrus makes a new law ordering people to worship Daniel's God. He also decrees the Hebrews be allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild God's holy temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians: "The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you--may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up" (2 Chronicles 36:23).


Figure 4.0: Daniel in the lion's den

4.2: The Leadership of Babylon vs. the Leadership of Persia

The leadership styles of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Cyrus differ greatly. King Nebuchadnezzar is a Power Wielder (Burns, 1978), who makes decisions to satisfy his own needs. King Cyrus is a participative leader (Follett, 1927), who often seeks advice from his people and is sensitive to the needs of his people.

Non-biblical references state that Nebuchadnezzar was a ruthless king and warrior known for using force and destruction to grow his empire. "He conquered kingdom after kingdom, including Phoenicia, Philistia, Judah, Ammon, Moab, Jerusalem, and more" (Wikipedia, 2014). He controlled all the trade routes from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. The taxes he gathered from the people were invested in beautifying the capital city of Babylon, which he accomplished by employing an army of slave labourers (, 2014). He most likely controlled the slave labourers through observation and discipline techniques (Foucault, 1975) similar to how the Hebrew slaves were treated in the book of Exodus. In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar tries unsuccessfully to normalize Daniel and his friends into Babylonian culture.  He tries to get them to eat meat that isn't prepared according to God's law, he tries to get them to bow down and worship the giant statue of himself, and he even gives them all Babylonian names to replace their Hebrew names.

In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus was a great king and warrior known for his respect for the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. At the beginning of his reign, between 539 and 530 BC, he transcribed on a clay cylinder (known as the Cyrus Cylinder) what scholars believe to be the oldest known declaration of human rights. Cyrus built his empire by conquering first the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and eventually the Babylonian Empire. His successful empire was based around a model for centralized administration and an established government working to the advantage of its subjects. Cyrus used satraps (provincial governors) to help him manage his empire, thus showing his participative leadership style (, 2014).

In the biblical narrative, Cyrus often seeks the advice of Daniel demonstrating his consultative style of decision-making (Vroom, 1974). After watching Daniel come out of the lion's den unharmed, Cyrus praises Daniel's God and decrees the Hebrews be allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild God's holy temple.  His generous support for the Hebrews' return home shows his leadership quality of being sensitive his people's true needs and desire for self-fulfillment (Burns, 1978).


4.3 King Cyrus' Leadership style in current organizations

It's pretty clear that King Nebuchadnezzar's ruthless, autocratic, oppressive, power wielding style of managing his empire is not something that would be tolerated in businesses and organizations today. King Cyrus' consultative, participative leadership style, however, is much more humane and pallatible. Follett would agree that leaders need to treat workers with dignity (1927). This leadership style will ultimately result in productive power. "The true sign of power, then, is accomplishment--not fear, terror, or tyranny. Where the power is 'on', the system can be productive; where the power is 'off', the system bogs down" (Kanter, 1979, p. 136).

Cyrus' government is centralized in the sense that the most important decisions are made by him, but also decentralized in the sense that he delegates satraps in various cities to help with collecting taxes and act as judges in the matter of local disputes.  This is a good model for large organizations today that rely on the efficiency of bureacracy but also want to balance the rigid structure with some autonomy for the people.

4.4 Supplementary Video: King Nebuchadnezzar sends Daniel's Friends to the Furnace

Source: The Bible [Television Series]. (2013). Lightworkers Media.

5.0 The Leadership of Jesus

5.1 Background Information

Approximately 400 years after the Hebrews return to their promised land as decreed by King Cyrus, God puts into action His plan to fulfill His final promise to Abraham. The first promise of holy land was fulfilled with Joshua when he led the Hebrews in conquering Jerusalem after Moses died. The second promise of a royal kingdom was fulfilled with King David.  The third and final promise God made to Abraham was worldwide blessing. By this time, the world power has shifted from the Persian empire to the Greek Empire and then to the Roman Empire. God sends from heaven His only son, Jesus, to be born on earth and grow up as as a human with real human emotions and tendencies. Jesus grows up like a regular Jewish boy in Nazareth with His mother, Mary, and adoptive father, Joseph.  He learns the trade of carpentry from Joseph and is also well versed in the Torah. At the age of 30, Jesus begins his teaching ministry as requested by God.

He begins by telling people who He is and then gathers 12 disciples. To show His authority from God, He performs several miracles including healing the sick, walking on water, feeding a crowd of 5000 with 5 loaves of bread, and bringing a dead man back to life. Using parables (picture stories) and His own actions as examples, He teaches the people how to show their love for God by loving and serving each other. He also teaches that God will welcome anyone into His heavenly kingdom, even if they are not Jewish and even if they are the gravest sinners, as long as they repent and follow God's commandments.  This upsets the Jewish leaders and high priests.  They have difficulties accepting this local Jewish man from Nazareth as the Son of God and they refuse to entertain the notion that God's final promise would be fulfilled in Jesus. As a result, they work with the Roman governor, Pilate, to have Jesus arrested for blasphemy.  After a trial involving Pilate, King Herod, and the Jewish High Priests and leaders, He is sentenced to death by crucifixion. Without complaint, Jesus endures extreme physical abuse in multiple forms including-- being scourged at the pillar, bearing a crown of thorns that has been secured into His head, carrying his own wooden cross to the place of His execution, falling multiple times under the weight of His cross, being nailed to the cross, and finally dehydration. Three days after His death on the cross, Jesus comes back to life and appears to His disciples.  He leaves them with the gift of the Holy Spirit which enables them to teach the word of God in multiple languages, and have courage in the face of persecution. He also gives them authority to hear and forgive people's sins "Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven" (Matthew 18:18). After encouraging the the disciples to "go forth and make disciples of each other" (Matthew 28:19), Jesus ascends into Heaven in fulfillment of the holy scriptures and of God's promise to His people, which now includes all nations.

Figure 5.0: Jesus' Last Supper with His Disciples

5.2 Jesus as a Servant Leader

In Part 1 of this tutorial, God's leadership style is identified as Transactional (rewarding and punishing according to His law). Despite this rigid leadership style, He is also identified as having Traditional authority like that of a loving father. God demonstrates this fatherly love when He sends His only son, Jesus, down to earth to teach the people and interact with them at their level, and ultimately pay the price of the peoples' sins in place of them. In this way, God can justify letting imperfect people into His Kingdom. By allowing Himself to die on the cross, Jesus pays for the sins of the world, of all people past and present. For example, when Jesus accepts His crown of thorns, He is actually taking over God's curse of thorns upon Adam in the book of Genesis.  When Jesus dies on the cross, He is actually taking the place of the sacrificial lamb in the story of Abraham and Isaac. In the same sense, He takes the place of Barrabas, the murderous prisoner whom the Jews chose to release at Passover instead of Jesus. He essentially takes the place of all people in paying for all sins ever committed. This is how God fulfills His promise to Abraham of worldwide blessing. In coming down to earth to teach by example and give up His own life to redeem others, Jesus is the ultimate role model of servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1977; Senge, 1990).

Jesus understands the importance of using language as internal representation (Gergen & Thatchenkery, 2004).  He deliberately uses parables (picture stories) to explain new concepts of behaviour to His followers.  This also demonstrates His situational leadership skills (Hersey & Blanchard, 1982) - the ability to adapt his leadership style to match the maturity level of the people. Although He understands that His followers are mostly uneducated people, He treats them with a Theory Y mentality (McGregor, 1957) - encouraging them to not be afraid of change and to think outside of the box in meeting their objective of serving God and serving each other. He encourages them to change their culture from Closed System thinking to Open Systems Thinking by being receptive to the communities around them (Katz and Kahn, 1978).

Jesus steps out of the cultural norm and visits people to connect with them on an individual level. He is interested in the needs of all of His people and pays special attention to those who are considered outcasts in society. Some of the people He visits include-- a tax collector, a Samaritan woman, a prostitute, a blind man, and a man with leprosy. He validates the notion that attention paid to people on a individual level actually makes a positive difference in their behaviour (Mayo, 1949).

The servant leadership style that Jesus demonstrates is similar to the Transformation leadership style of Moses but the key difference is that with Transformational leadership, the leader aims to transform people with the ultimate goal of meeting organizational objectives.  With Servant leadership, the behaviour of serving is the objective (Farling, et al., 1999). 

5.3 Jesus' Leadership Style in Current Organizations

Servant Leadership is an important concept for organizations with a mission centered around people. Educational Institutions are a good example of this. These organizations want to move in the direction of a living system that acknowledges that "learning and growth are natural features in life"  (Mitchell & Sackney, 2009), and occurs continuously in day to day interactions inside and outside of the organization. In a living system, relationships and community building are the primary focus of the leader.  The servant-leader focuses on people-developing rather than program-pushing. The needs of the people come first before all others.

5.4: Supplementary Video: Jesus and His Disciple Peter

Source: The Bible [Television Series]. (2013). Lightworkers Media.

6.0 Handout for In-Class Presentation