Jesus gathered His team of disciples, together - a really disparate group of men from all walks of life. He set out the overarching principles of His ministry, His vision, His aims and objectives and then His work began. He preached and lived out the Good News that He was bringing into our world, but He knew just how important His disciples were to be in fulfilling His mission and so Jesus needed to take His disciples along with Him. They needed to understand just what Jesus was about, where they fitted into His mission and His ministry and so for all the outward facing aspects of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus spent a massive amount of His time educating, teaching and leading His disciples. His team needed development and for that they needed good strong leadership and Jesus provided just that.
Jesus was a supportive team leader, got alongside disciples and helped them through disagreements and misconceptions. Do you remember the discord between the disciples when James and John asked Jesus for prime positions in God’s Kingdom (Mark 10:35-45)? Jesus dealt firmly with the situation, whilst explaining the centrality of service to God’s Kingdom. Jesus though was also prepared to give His disciples their ‘heads’ when He thought they were ready. He sent out the 72 disciples to go out into the villages and spread the Good News (Luke 10:1-23). Jesus trusted them and there was a wonderful outcome as Luke records in verse 17 that ‘the seventy-two returned with joy.’
CWGs continue in the pattern set by that early group of disciples. Any successful group will need development and encouragement and that requires good leadership, but the ultimate effectiveness of the CWG will not hinge around one person. Leadership within the CWG can be stressful and tiring and will almost always need to involve more than one person, so when you are setting up a CWG or trying to develop its activities, don’t try to do it all on your own, give some thought to establishing a leadership team. Remember how Jesus developed Peter as a leader for the future.
Just like those early disciples it’s important to take the whole group with you. It’s important that members of the CWG have a shared understanding of its core purpose and mission. Remember one inappropriate behaviour or comment can adversely reflect on the whole group. Where there are disagreements or misunderstandings take a leaf out of Jesus’ leadership style and spend time exploring and resolving these within the group. Investing time in developing CWG members is well worthwhile and perhaps lunchtime meetings might focus on clarifying aims and objectives exploring any areas of potential disagreement.
Development and engagement of the team entails giving people opportunities to develop areas of interest, so, if you are in a leadership role within your CWG, why not delegate responsibility to others for organising a project such as an Easter or Christmas event. Make sure your support is there in the background, but trust your team members to get on with it and when the project is successfully completed, then they too may experience joy just like those early disciples.
Leadership is a tricky thing to get right, but it is essential for the development of an effective CWG. Jesus provides an excellent example of leadership, but we would do well to remember in our efforts to provide leadership that Jesus’ approach was a completely ‘upside-down’ approach to leadership – that of ‘Servant King – Servant Leader’.