by P. T. Chandapilla
The proposed program for developing Christian leadership in India is the program of the Lord Jesus Christ found in the gospels. We shall confine ourselves to His program that developed the twelve apostles to become the first Christian leaders.
The proposed program for developing Christian leadership in India is the program of the Lord Jesus Christ found in the gospels. We shall confine ourselves to His program that developed the twelve apostles to become the first Christian leaders. I believe, next to the provision of redemption through His life, death and resurrection, the other main work that the Lord Jesus accomplished was the preparation of the Twelve particularly for the proclamation of this redemption to the farthest corner of the world.
In my study and reflection over the gospels I have discovered eight principles which underlie His program. I purpose to develop eight applications for us to incorporate into our program of developing Christian leadership. I consider these vital and important for all of us, whether nationals or missionaries.
Christ’s program was both effective and exemplary. His program was applied in the most ordinary circumstances of life. So it is a proven program. Because it was operated by the Son of God Himself, it has the element of timelessness and universality in it. It is a program for application anywhere in the world and at any time of Christian history. I am convinced that the application of His program is absolutely basic for us in India, if we want to develop Christian leadership here.
The emphasis will be on the leader who is responsible for developing Christian leadership. I shall state the principles the Lord used, elucidate the principles from various references in the gospels, and formulate the applications for us. In the applications the persons who are the candidates for development are referred to as “novices” and the person responsible for the program as the “leader.” I am conscious that in the program of the Lord there is the integral aspect of the supernatural in His person. This aspect is applicable to us who are called as leaders through the gift of Pentecost, namely the person of the Holy Spirit. If it were not so, our efforts to look to Jesus Christ in any area of Christian life is a vain exercise indeed.
1. Jesus Christ selected those who should be the Twelve (Luke 6:12-13).
In His ministry almost from the beginning He was followed by multitudes. But as He moved along He did not commit Himself to the crowds. He was on the search for individuals. Even when He found faithful individuals He kept on narrowing His focus to the selection of the Twelve who were to be His Apostles. We see therefore the Lord screening His disciples from the multitudes. One time He sent out seventy disciples. From the many disciples He further narrowed and selected the Twelve and ordained them to be His Apostles.
In the process of selection He used a number of guidelines. First, the men who were appointed as the Twelve were men who were busy in some trade and who were fairly successful in it, because they earned their livelihood through their jobs. Second, the Twelve were men who were consistently responsive to spiritual truth, notwithstanding all other flaws and failures in them. They were men drawn to Christ not primarily because oï¿½ His external attractions but His inner virtues. Third, the Lord spent much time in prayer as to who should be the Twelve. The actual finalizing of the list and appointment of the Twelve followed a whole night of prayer.
References: John 2:23-25; Line 10:1-20; Matthew 4:1822; Luke 5:27-28; John 1:36, 37, 45; Matthew 16:15-16; John 6:66-69; Luke 6:12-16.
Application One: The leader must screen and select candidates for leadership from the widest possible berth of Christian population. Those who show evidence of responsiveness to spiritual verities and who are already purposefully engaged in some work should be selected. The final list of selection must be made in the prayer chamber waiting on God. The candidates thus selected shall be accepted as the charge from and before God.
2. Jesus Christ made the Twelve the center o f His concern (Luke 22:15-16).
Once the Twelve were with Him, from the time He called them He was literally and physically with them all the time. Conversely, they were with Him. There must have been occasions when one and another were away from Him. But this was certainly to a minimum. He lived with them, ate with them, journeyed with them, worked with them, slept with them, and went on periods of respite with them. He was with them in public and in private. Really there was not anything intensely personal or private that was His which they did not virtually share. He went with them to His native village, the capital of the nation and even outside His national territory. He lived an utterly transparent life before them. The Twelve were His treasure on earth.
References: John 1:38, 39; John 4:1-8; John 6:1-13; Luke 8:22, 23; Mark 6:31; Luke 18:31; Matthew 15:21, 23; Matthew 13:10, 11.
Application Two: The leader must concentrate on those under his charge. Those novices to whom he is responsible must become the center of the leader’s life, concern, plan and activities. He must physically give himself to them without reserve and live transparently before them.
3. Jesus Christ discoursed with the Twelve and taught them (Matt. 5: 1, 2).
The discourses of the Lord Jesus with the Twelve were direct, personal and practical. He took much time, effort and patience for such discourses. Except for some definite occasions when He gave the Twelve direct and planned teaching as the Sermon on the Mount, His discourses often and almost always came right out of situations, problems and experiences of ordinary life each day. In other words, the teaching situations were not academic but training on the job or in life. His discourses with people and groups other than the Twelve almost always took place in the hearing of all the Twelve or some of them. These were also discourses intended for their learning.
For instance, tae parables of our Lord come in this indirect discourses with the Twelve. His discourses related to the known and earthly affairs, leading on to unveiling the unknown and heavenly realities. Spiritual truths and mysteries of eternity were communicated through the discourses. His conversations gave insight to the Twelve in matters of the past, present and future. He dealt with issues and burdens of daily life such as eating, drinking and clothing. He analyzed and exposed the existing socio-politico-religious structure. His discourses gave comfort, cheer, assurance, confidence and encouragement. In His direct conversations with the Twelve His plans, programs, goals and the thrust of His life were made plain. Thus the Twelve were instructed, informed, enlightened through His discourses.
References: Matthew 5-7; Matthew 10; Matthew 13:1-3; Matthew 23:1ff; John 4:27-38; John 5:19ff; John 6:60-69; John 13-17; Matthew 26:36-46.
Application Three: The utterances, conversations and discourses of the leader whether in private or public must be geared to his charge. The purpose of it all must be to impart information and instruction to the novices so that they will develop into leaders. Although there are times when a leader has to give direct teaching, it is far more than an academic exercise which is the generally accepted and employed method of leadership training in our day. True leadership is not generated and properly developed in academic environments, but in life, on existential terms and situations, which partly includes formal instructions and lectures.
4. Jesus Christ progressively unveiled Himself (His being) to the Twelve (Matthew 16:13-15). This exercise of the Lord in developing the Twelve is seen throughout the gospels. From the first encounter of the Twelve with Him as individuals throughout the three years til His crucifixion and ascension, the Twelve confronted a Lord who exposed, demonstrated and unveiled Himself. In this method He is unique among all leaders in history who developed leadership and consequently His great success in developing leadership.
He intentionally entered into conversations with His disciples as to who He was, as on the road to Caesarea Philippi. He exposed Himself to the Twelve showing them the mainspring of His ability and power, which was direct contact with the Father, as in feeding the five thousand or in the raising of Lazarus. He made it unmistakably clear to the Twelve that the purpose of His life was constantly pleasing the Father, suffering at Jerusalem, giving His life a ransom for others, and winning the lost to the Father. He arranged a special occasion for three of the Twelve when He unveiled His glory before them on the mount of transfiguration. In Gethsemane He let the Twelve see His intense anguish, agony and loneliness in confronting the powers of darkness in the ordained way of willing submission to His Father and selfgiving love for His enemies. Even after the resurrection He ate with the eleven and challenged them to handle Him. All these were incomparable exercises in developing leadership. They are actions unveiling His person and true being.
References: John 1:39; John 6:11; 11:17-44; Luke 19:10; John 4:34; Matthew 17:1-8; Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 24:38-43.
Application Four: The leader must unveil and expose his being to his charge. He must have a transparent life so that his inner (spiritual) life does not remain “out-of-bounds” to the novices. On the other hand, the novices are invited into the inner dynamics of his person, behavior and experiences. They must be able to discover what makes him what he is, that is the inner secret of his life. This means the inner conflicts, problems, feelings, thoughts and decisions must be exposed to his charge in order that the novices may know who he is in truth as a man, and how he finds solutions to these crises in his work and personal life through dependence upon God. A leader who shuts up into himself will not be able to develop leadership. This part of leadership development is the most demanding because this is giving of oneself in reality and in depth on a progressive basis.
5. Jesus Christ generated and cultivated the confidence of the Twelve in Him (John 1:41, 42, 47-49).
This is another great secret of His success in developing the Twelve into leaders. He defended the Twelve when they were criticized and attacked by the outsiders and onlookers. He took pains to protect and help them against the odds of life. That was one purpose of His constant companionship with them. He warned them in advance of their enemies, problems and possible failures. As in the case of Peter, Jesus told him that He was praying for Peter. He evinced His confidence in them by giving them responsibilities to fulfill. He encouraged and strengthened them both before His death and after His resurrection.
All this reposing of confidence of Christ in the Twelve brought response of confidence from them. When they were confused and did not understand anything, they took the problem to Him. They voluntarily asked Him for teaching in prayer and for increase of their faith. They came and reported to Him what they heard from observers or multitudes and what they experienced on their independent tours. They called to Him in their needs and in the boat about to sink in the lake, and brought others in need to Him. They were willing to do His bidding. All these show how much of the confidence of the Twelve Jesus enjoyed. For all this the initiative and responsibility rested with Jesus.
References: Matt. 12:1-8; 10:16-23; Luke 22:31, 32; Matt. 10:1, 5; Mark 4:10; John 9:1, 2; Luke 11:1; 5:4, 5.
Application Five: The leader must win and treasure the confidence of his charge. This has to be done on an individual level and maintained on a corporate level. Everything must be done in order to maintain and develop the confidence the novices place in the leader. He must prove a true companion and a ready help, particularly in the weak and needy situations in the life of the novices. The instilling and maintaining confidence on a growing measure is an absolute necessity in developing leadership.
6. Jesus Christ involved the Twelve in practical assignments (Matt. 10:1, 5).
This was another necessary step the Lord had in His program for the Twelve. He made them to confront difficult situations and issues, as in asking them to give to eat to the five thousand or letting them toil alone in the sea through the storm, or letting the nine of them face the epileptic boy and his father while the Lord was on the mount of transfiguration. He sent them right into the midst of people to minister by sending them on mission tours. He gave them practical examples in His life to be followed by them, as the washing of their feet. He made them to work by doing chores of life. The twelve had to go and buy food, serve others when they ate, go and prepare the Passover meal, get a donkey for Him to ride, etc. Therefore His practical assignments related to details of spiritual ministry and chores of ordinary existence.
References: Matt. 14:16; 14:22-25; 17:14-16; John 13:15; 4:8; Luke 19:29, 30; 22:8-10.
Application Six: The leader must provide opportunities for his charges to express their faith and leadership in action. With this goal in view practical assignments in life situations are necessary. They should include mundane chores of life as well as exercises in ministry and leadership. The academic air of the practical assignments must be removed by the leader himself personally being part of these experiences in training. The leader will not ask the novices to do what he himself has not done or will not do. In other words the leader is both an example and model, not merely a preceptor.
7. Jesus Christ disciplined the Twelve (Matt. 16:17, 23 ).
The discipline of the Lord for the Twelve included various elements. He took occasions to evaluate their work together with them whether it be a missionary tour, or a situation of impossibility they faced. In evaluating He pointed out their reasons for failure or the right attitudes to maintain. His discipline included encouragement when the Twelve responded in the right, as Peter’s confession that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. The reverse of encouragement which is rebuke was also part of discipline. Where they showed unbelief, fear, spiritual impotence or spiritual pride, he rebuked them. His evaluation, correction, encouragement and rebuke all formed the program of discipline. His discipline was directed to the individuals and the whole group in the Twelve as it was needed. This is the responsibility of a leader who is involved in developing of leadership.
References: Luke 10:17-20; Matt. 16:5ff; 17:19-21; 14:31; Luke 9:52-55.
Application Seven: The leader must exercise discipline in his charge. He must include in his program occasions from time to time to evaluate the life and activities of his charge both in an individual and collective context. Such exercises, as occasion demands, must comprise of encouraging, rebuking, correcting and challenging. Evaluation must have both immediate cases and comprehensive situations under review. The ability of the leader to do this effectively will certainly determine the development of leadership under him. All praises and all faultfinding are contrary to the application of this principle. Discipline is fruitfully implemented when there is unyielding confidence between the leader and the novices.
8. Jesus Christ stuck with the Twelve until the last (John 13:1).
This I believe is the great virtue of the Lord Jesus as a leader. It is the virtue of the steadfast endurance of faith. He evidenced this in all areas of His life, but in a special way in His dealing with the Twelve. He had every reason to give up the whole lot of them, but He did not give up even one. In His last prayer He said He guarded all of them from perishing except the son of perdition.
He did not give up Peter, who repeatedly failed and finally denied Him. On the other hand, after the resurrection He took out special time and effort for Peter to show him that He loved and counted on Peter. He did not get discouraged in John and James, the sons of Boanerges, in spite of their violent temper or self-seeking. Instead He took them into His inner circle. He did not despair in persons like Judas till the last, because He was giving Judas opportunities and warnings to change his course of action. Thus the Lord put His trust in the failing, motley group of Apostles through thick and thin, in right and wrong. All along He indicated that they (the Twelve) were to carry on the program He initiated. In the end before His ascension He gave His parting and great commission showing finally that He counted on them for world evangelization at all costs. This was true greatness of this great Master who developed leadership in the Apostles. He was able to stick to the last with the disappointing, failing and discouraging group of the Twelve because He accepted them as given by His Father. He knew that they were His Father’s charge to Him. That brought them out as leaders for His concern and cause throughout the Roman empire of the first century. Also, they in turn developed leadership after them to reach the whole world till this century.
References: John 18:25-27; 21:15-18; Matt. 20:20-24; 26: 37; Matt. 26:21, 25; 28:16-20.
Application Eight: The leader must stand with his charge until the last. Overcoming his discouragement and discounting the failures in the novices, the leader must put his trust in them. He must commit himself and his plans to them till it is clear to them that he has no other alternate course but them. He shall never withdraw from any in his charge. A true leader shall not give up anyone committed to his charge in the will of God. This is a basic factor in the development of leadership. This applied endurance of faith is a hard quality to be had, but an absolutely necessary quality for those who expect to raise up leadership after them.
The principles of the program of the Lord Jesus will need to be applied by us in our program of leadership development. Whether or not we apply them in our vocation as one person or as a group of persons called for development of leadership, these elements are absolutely essential. It may be that we cannot implement all these applications one hundred percent due to the limitations of our lives. However, all these principles need to be applied. The fuller the measure of application of such a program, the surer of developing good leadership.
Copyright © 1969 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ. Published: EMQ Vol. 5-3 Summer (July), 1969 pp. 210-218. For Reprint Permissions beyond personal use visit our STORE (here).