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Running head: INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

The Inspirational Leadership of Jesus Christ


Anthony M. Da Silva
Saint Leo University

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

Abstract
Jesus Christ is known to be one of the greatest leaders of all ages. In a time marked with tyranny,
instability, and persecution, Jesus Christ was able to rise to above all obstacles and drastically
change the world forever with his remarkable leadership integrity, servitude and sacrifice. The
leadership of Jesus Christ is more evident today than ever. There are currently billions of
followers of Jesus Christ and millions more each year ("Global Christianity: A Report on the
Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population," 2011). This paper discusses several
of Jesus Christs major influences that might have attributed to his leadership development;
factors such as his heredity, upbringing, culture, education and the socio-political environment of
the time are introduced and examined. The paper also discusses several of Jesus Christs
behavioral characteristics, acquired values, and predominant leadership style which are
composed of traits from both Transformation and Servant Leadership Theories. The paper
concludes by investigating how Jesus Christ exemplified the leadership value of integrity,
addressed ethical challenges and created a lasting impact on society with his introduction of
Christianity.

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

The Inspirational Leadership of Jesus Christ


In a period of greed, oppression and conquest; Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ,
imprisoned in a Roman dungeon, stated: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
(Philippians 4:13, New King James Version). In order to endure unspeakable conditions, he was
able to draw strength through his faith in the lord and teachings of Jesus Christ. Paul, like
countless others today, are being transformed, uplifted, and inspired by the leadership of Jesus
Christ. In a time when Roman leaders aspired to be viewed as gods, Jesus Christ ascended above
all unmeasurable odds, as a symbol of divine authority, changing the world for generations to
come. Today, after two thousand years, his leadership is more alive than ever with over two
billion followers and millions more each year. Jesus Christs inspirational leadership style of
servitude and love marked him forever as the Messiah, King of Kinds, and the true Son of God to
generations of devoted believers who worshiped him throughout the centuries.
The purpose of this paper is to examine Jesus Christs life of servitude and how he
influenced, shaped and defined our society throughout generations. In order to achieve its goal,
this paper commences by providing a background on major influences, behavioral
characteristics, and values of Jesus Christ which formulated his unique blend of charismatic,
transformational and servant leadership style. The paper next examines how Jesus Christ
exemplified the value of integrity as a leader and pioneered a movement of ethical behavior; it
discusses ethical challenges experienced, and concludes by focusing on how Jesus Christ created
a lasting impact on society.
Major Influences, Behavioral Characteristics and Values, and Leadership Style
In order to gain a better understanding of how Jesus Christ ascended to become the leader
that he is today, it is important to carefully examine all factors that might have attributed to the

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

formation of his leadership style. This next section will discuss some of Jesus Christs major
influences, behavioral characteristics and values, and leadership style traits.
Major Influences
Jesus Christ, born in a small town called Bethlehem, did not have any financial resources,
professional training or other means necessary to make the impact that he did in a thousand
lifetimes. The question to be answered is: how did he do it then? Jesus Christ, like all leaders
was uniquely shaped by many internal and external influences that defined him as an individual.
Some of these influences were: naturally inherited, taught during upbringing, acquired through
occupational experience, and shaped through social and political forces.
Hereditary factors: nature vs nurture. According to recent studies, it is believed that
our genes are chiefly responsible for determining our personality over other external factors such
as the upbringing of parental figures (Collins, 2012). Since Jesus Christ is believed by billions to
be the son of God, it can be concluded that many would believe that Jesus Christs leadership
mannerism is divinely acquired and a reflection of the Lord. Although this if this not a shared
belief among all, most would agree, based on written scripture, that Jesus Christ himself believed
that he was indeed the son of God. As indicated in the bible scripture, Mark 1:11, New King
James Version, Jesus Christ heard a voice from the heavens saying, You are my beloved son; I
take delight in you. In addition, there are numerous references in the Bible that indicated that
Jesus Christ spoke with the Lord directly. As the child of a carpenter, raised in modest
conditions, it is highly unlikely that any child would grow up to be any kind of distinguished
community figure.
Early developmental & cultural influences. Jesus Christ spent most of his life in the
small, relatively poor and overpopulated town of Nazareth which is in the province of Galilee

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

close to metropolitan enters of Tiberias and Sepphoris (Hall, 2014). As a member of the Jewish
community, it was customary for young adults to seek guidance from a local teacher or sage
(Hall, 2014). Although there is no indication of the early mentors of Jesus Christ, it is clear that
as a Palestinian Jew, Jesus Christ was exposed to the teachings from the bible at a very early age;
he would have likely received lessons from both his local village schoolhouse and from the
synagogue (Hall, 2014).
According to Mark 3:21, New King James Version, when Jesus Christs family heard
about how he was able to assemble large crowds and perform miracles they set out to stop him,
and stated: he is out of his mind. Based on this scripture, it can be affirmed that Jesus Christ
was not coached, encouraged or persuaded by his family to believe that he is God.
Education and career as a carpenter. As the son of a carpenter, it is highly likely that
Jesus Christ acquired his trade skills in woodcraft from his earthly father, Joseph, since it was
customary for vocational skills to be passed down from father to son (Barnes, 2006). Jesus
Christs family occupation in the field of carpentry suggests that he had a reasonably adequate
socio-economic standard of living (Hall, 2014).
Political & social environmental factors. The times of Jesus Christ were marked with
turbulence from continual conquests and oppressions. It featured various Jewish sects, each with
their own political and social agenda. It was a tremendously dangerous time for anyone to
introduce a new way of life that would threaten the delicate struggle for power. The Judaism
movement was composed of a complex set of political, social and religious philosophies (Hall,
2014). The following four social groups, according to Hall (2014), composed the Jewish social
structure of the time.

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

Zealots This social-political group was against the Roman oppression and
believed that the only way to liberate the Jewish people was through violence and
armed rebellion.

Sadducees This group was composed of the noble, priest and aristocratic classes
who focused on conserving their power by cooperating with Rome.

Pharisees This group formed the scribes of Jewish society. These scribes
strived to live life in accordance with the laws of the Jewish Torah. They were
opposed to both rebellion and cooperation with the Romans.

Essenes This religious sect lived apart from the influence of the orthodox Jews
in the main towns; they secluded themselves in simple communities ("The
Essenes - Edgar Cayce on the Life & Times of Jesus," 2012). According to the
Dead Sea Scrolls, these ancient people were Jewish by birth and believed in nonviolence, sharing possessions, and peace ("The Essenes - Edgar Cayce on the Life
& Times of Jesus," 2012).

Although the Essenes did not target Jesus; the Zealots, Sadducees, and Pharisees all
viewed Jesus Christ a major threat to their cause and way of life (Hall, 2014). As a result, Jesus
Christ was repeatedly persecuted by these groups and eventually captured and executed by his
own people (Matthew 22:15).
Behavioral Characteristics & Values
Now that we have an acquired an understanding of the many variables that helped shape
and influence Jesus Christ to become the unmatched global leader that he came to be, it is
important to examine some of his documented thoughts and behaviors in order to pinpoint his
personality and predominant leadership style.

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

Personality traits. All leaders have different personality traits, beliefs on what is
considered effective, and as a result behave in a certain way. Mahatma Gandhi once stated:
Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become
your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values
become your destiny ("Gandhi: Your Beliefs Lead to Your Destiny," 2011). In other words our
beliefs and thoughts dictate our actions, behaviors and ultimately define our values. For
instance, one can make the claim that he or she values family and education, but it is only
possible to know if this is indeed true, by examining actual historic behavior.
Unethical leaders throughout history have made claims to value life, but instead have
used their power to tragically murder countless innocents under their control. The following is a
summary of some documented leadership behaviors from Jesus Christ; by closely examining
each behavior, root values can be drawn and an overall assessment on the leadership style of
Jesus Christ can be made.
Leading by example. Jesus Christ lived a life of servitude to the Lord without sin. He
set the example for others to follow. Jesus Christ not only spoke about what needed to be done,
he lived a lifestyle of dedication, commitment and sacrifice. Through prayer Jesus Christ was
recharged and ready to teach; according to Mark 1:38, New King James Version, Jesus Christ
responded to Simnon after a period of solitude and prayer by saying: Let us go somewhere else
to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.
Dedication to professional development. Jesus Christ was extremely disciplined and
devoted to his own professional development. According to Luke 3:21, New King James
Version, Jesus Christ travelled to the mountainside to pray all night to God. According to Mark

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

1:35, New King James Version, Jesus Christ rose in the early morning while it was still dark and
found a private area to pray.
Natural teacher and speaker. According to scripture Jesus Christ was a theological child
prodigy, as evidenced by his early public lectures at the age of twelve. It can be implied that the
child Jesus Christ invested a great amount of time mastering Jewish values, beliefs, and
traditions (Hall, 2014). At an early age, without any evidence of formal training, Jesus Christ
had the natural ability to amass large crowds and clearly articulate his vision. Jesus Christ was
described as an astonishing teacher; according to Mark 1:22, New King James Version, Jesus
Christ entered the synagogue and began to teach as one having authority unlike a scribe.
Jesus Christ defined the meaning of a charismatic teacher and the importance of effective
communication. He taught life lessons by giving examples and through parables that could be
understood by everyone. According to Mark 3:23, New King James Version: he summoned
them and spoke to them in parables. Jesus Christ understood the significance of simplicity and
delivered the message that could be understood by an audience of any size. Jesus Christ also
personally taught his disciples to how pray according to Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus Christ not only
possessed mastery of the material he was promoting, he embodied the message and in a way he
became the message (Briner & Pritchard, 1997, p. 13). Jesus Christ taught with passion,
authority and charisma.
Charisma, vision, and inspiration. Crowds would follow Jesus Christ to hear him speak
(Mark 3:7, New International Version). When Jesus Christ spoke, he had the gift to inspire his
audience and create great charisma. The book of Matthews indicates that at the end of each
sermon, crowds were astounded at his teachings (Matthews 7:28, New International Version).
Like a true leader, Jesus Christ clearly articulated his vision of the coming of a heavenly

INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF JESUS

kingdom, the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17, New International Version). Jesuss vision was
clear, according to John 4:34, he came to do the will of the Lord who sent him. Jesus inspired
his followers by not only speaking his vision, but by modelling the desired behavior.
Loving, caring and nurturing. Jesus Christ is known for his message of peace and love
to all including those who persecuted him. When addressing challenges, Jesus Christ offered a
calm and caring parent-like presence in the face of anxiety. For instance, in Mark 5:21-43, New
Revised Standard Version, Jesus Christ is approached by Jairus and a woman anxiously
requesting assistance. Jesus Christ responds to the request by displaying a non-anxious and
composed appearance (Huh, 2012). As a result of his confidence, his followers are able to grow
in faith (Huh, 2012). By investigating this passage, it is evident that Jesus Christ is a father-like
figure and caregiver by nature (Huh, 2012). Jesus Christ, much like a confident parent, is able to
provide comfort and healing in the midst of trouble (Huh, 2012). Jesus Christ also refused to
condemn a woman who was caught in adultery to die; his act of compassion is a further
indication of his love for all of his children (John 11:3-10; Manz, 2005).
Courage. In a time where Roman leaders aspired to be viewed as Gods and rejected the
notion of a single true God, there is little motivation for leaders who were inspirational,
charismatic, or even gifted with speaking to emerge out of fear of death. Jesus Christ, however,
was quite different; according to the scripture, Jesus Christ had faith in his hereditary
background as indicated by his strong belief to be the son of God. As a result of his faith, he was
unbound by the threats of this world; he has always been able to act confidently when speaking
to large crowds, carry conviction and authority with each word said, and ultimately allow himself
to be led by a divine cause which supersedes the earthly barriers and fears. As evidenced by
Mark 1:38, Jesus Christ was driven to by his belief when he said: Why are you fearful? Do you

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still have no faith? (Mark 4:40). In other words, he was not restricted by the law of the land,
and by the fear of death, persecution or punishment. Jesus Christ had faith in his role as the son
of God and was ready to face persecution, betrayal, and even the cross for his beliefs.
The Leadership Style of Jesus Christ
The leadership style of Jesus Christ has been characterized in many different ways.
Some say that Jesus Christ primarily displayed leadership traits indicative of transformational
leadership while others affirm that the leadership style of Jesus Christ is synonymous to a servant
type style of leadership. In this section both Transformational and Servant leadership theories
are discussed.
Transformational leadership theory. Transformational leadership style involves
inspiring and stimulating followers to reach levels beyond imagined capabilities (Tuuk, 2012);
transformational leaders empower their followers to want to achieve results on their own without
a transaction involved (Tuuk, 2012). They do this by articulating values, providing a vision, and
involving followers in their work (Tuuk, 2012). As a result, followers are transformed by the
movement and eventually become leaders themselves.
According to Tuuk (2012) Transformational leadership consists of the following Four Is:
1. Idealized Influence this is achieved when the leader is able to influence his
followers by modeling desired behavior and values. As a result, transformational
leaders act as a role model to followers and are able to provide their followers
with a sense of purpose, motivation, and life mission. A transformational leader
generates followership through respect and pride for the cause involved by
promoting a set of values to its members.

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2. Inspirational motivation Transformational leaders stimulate and motivate


followers by providing them with an optimistic vision of the future that is exciting
and well worth the sacrifice. As a result, followers are energized, driven, and
motivated, and passionate to act in despite obstacles and previously unattainable
physical and mental barriers.
3. Intellectual Stimulation Transformational leaders encourage and inspire their
followers to be able to think on their own in new and creative ways. Instead of
following tradition, a transformational leader provides a new way to view the
world.
4. Individualized Consideration This occurs when the leader is able to achieve
growth from his or her followers by tailoring approaches to meet the individual
needs of the follower.
According to the Bible, Mark 1:17, New King James Version, Jesus Christ told his
disciples, Follow me and I will make you fishers for people. As indicated by the previous
quote, Jesus Christ transformed his followers; he was able to empower, motivate, and influence
members of his close circle to become leaders on their own. These profound visionary and
inspirational words of trust set the motion necessary for a simple fisherman to aspire to become
something much greater.
Jesus Christ had the gift to touch ordinary people, working in commonplace professions,
to quit life-long careers and follow him. What would motivate someone, with such a specific
vocation, to let go of that profession to follow Jesus Christ? After all, there is no evidence in the
Bible that indicates that Jesus Christ strong-armed his followers, offered them money, or spent a
great deal of time trying to convince them to follow him. Jesus Christ simply had the divine gift

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of presence, authority, and charisma. Jesus Christ was also a visionary, by sharing his vision of
the heavenly kingdom (Matthew 3:2) as the ultimate reward, he was able to inspire his followers
to see beyond difficulties ahead and overcome untold obstacles. All of these traits are indicative
of transformational leadership.
Servant leadership theory. Servant leadership style features the following criteria
(Grahn, 2011):
1. The leader is ready to submit to a higher calling towards voluntary servitude.
2. The leader only uses his leadership power used to serve his followers.
3. Must be a true servant that placed his own needs secondary to his followers or/and
cause.
4. A teacher who inspires his followers by role modeling the lifestyle of a servant.
Instead of focusing on controlling other people, a servant leader is driven by love and
uses his influence to serve others (Chung, 2011). A servant leader puts himself in the place of a
servant and puts the people in the seat of the master and thinks about how to serve them
(Chung, 2011).
Humility. One of the most famous examples of Jesus Christs lesson on humility and
servitude involves his decision to wash the feet of his disciples (John 16:4). During his time, the
roads were littered and peoples only protection from the dirt was a pair of sandals; by washing
his disciples feet, Jesus Christ assumed the task that was regarded as the responsibility of a lowlevel house servant. As a result of this humble act Jesus Christ was able to teach his disciples
that he has endless love for his followers; he also showed his followers that there is no leader too
great to not serve their followers.

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Servitude and followership. Jesus Christ is not only the greatest leader of all time; he is
also greatest follower that ever lived. From his early public teachings to his final words on the
cross; Jesus Christ led a life of followership and absolute trust in the Lord. He dedicated his life
freely to fulfilling the will of God (Luke 22:42). From the young age of twelve, according to
Luke 2:46-49, Jesus Christ said to his mother after being lost for three days: Didnt you know I
had to be in my Fathers house? Jesus Christ never gave praise to himself and continually
mentioned that his words, works, and healings are not his own by belong to the father (John
5:19-30). Jesus Christs life was comprised of acts of service to others; he healed the sick,
expelled demons, and introduced a peaceful way of life to the world (Grahn, 2011).
Jesus Christ lived a true life of servitude, as he stated, For I have come down from
heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me (John 6:38). In the end, Jesus
Christ, the worlds greatest leader, lived his entire life by simply following the will of his father.
The leadership style of Jesus Christ. Based on documented literature it is evident that
Jesus Christs leadership style features characteristics from both Transformational and Servant
Leadership Theories. According to research, there have been a number of studies that
investigated the relationship between the Transformational and Servant Leadership Styles
(Echols, 2009; Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004). Some of these key studies have found that
there is very little difference between the two styles since both theories are people-centered,
morally-based, and focuses on inspiration methods of leadership (Echols, 2009; Stone et al.,
2004).
Evidence of Integrity, Ethical Leadership and Challenges
Jesus Christs leadership integrity is regarded as flawless and unquestioned. As
previously mentioned, Jesus Christ leads by example; he embodies the ideals of blessing the poor

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in spirit, being faithful to God, and behaving righteousness at all times (Troftgruben, 2013).
Jesus Christ led a life of complete unblemished integrity; although he was constantly tormented
and persecuted his integrity never faltered.
Evidence of Leadership Integrity
Integrity translates from the Old Testament in the Bible as the condition of being
without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness
(Galloway, 2013, para. 1). Having integrity is often considered the hallmark of leadership
("True mark of leadership: Integrity," 2013). People will only follow a leader with integrity as
leaders with integrity often faced with unpopular decisions involving personal sacrifices ("True
mark of leadership: Integrity," 2013).
Jesus Christ displayed his integrity when he was tempted by the devil by refusing offers
of power and glory (Luke 4:6). Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice in the cross in order to
maintain his integrity as a leader; instead of simply telling his persecutors what they want to
hear, he chose to maintain his integrity by following the Lord.
Ethical Leadership
Ethical leaders have a strong respect for human dignity; they lead by upholding the rights
and truly caring for the needs and interests of all involved (Eisenbei & Brodbeck, 2014). Ethical
leaders are described as inspirational managers, who empower and have great charisma and an
encouraging vision for the future (Eisenbei & Brodbeck, 2014). Jesus Christs fundamental
principle of treating others as one would like to be treated (Luke: 6:31) provides endless ethical
application and insight in practically every area of life. Jesus Christ also teaches his followers to
love all whether or not it is reciprocated (Luke 6:32). These principles set the foundation for
Christians to take the higher moral ground and promote peach in the world.

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Inspiring future ethical leadership. Jesus Christ has influenced a myriad of historical
figures that led the world to what it is today. In the field of science, for instance, every branch
was developed by a bible believing Christian (Hammond, 2014). There is no question that the
divine inspiration and leadership of Jesus Christ powered the creativity of Leonardo da Vinci,
fueled the courage of Christopher Columbus, and propelled the dreams of Rev Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.
Jesus Christs Leadership Influence in Society
The leadership influence of Jesus Christ expands to nearly one third of todays
population; according to survey conducted in 2010, it is currently estimated that 2.18 billion
followers of Jesus Christ are in existence in over 200 nations ("Global Christianity: A Report on
the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population," 2011). Jesus Christ, the Founder
of Christianity, is credited for the establishment of society-benefiting agencies, abolition of
slavery, and the influence of countless leaders and thinkers who benefited society.
A New Respect for Human Life
Prior to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world had little respect for human life (Hammond,
2014). Jesus Christs teachings on love inspired Christians around the world to enact hospitals,
establish schools, and create humanitarian movements (Hammond, 2014). The American Red
Cross, for instance, along with countless other organizations was inspired by Christian values
(Hammond, 2014). Nations have also been led by Christian values. U.S. hospitals in the
battlefields of Afghanistan, for example, provide service to both enemy combatants and coalition
forces.
Promoting Human Rights

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The principles of Christianity promote universal rights under the idea that all people are
created equal in the image of God (Souza, 2008). In the time of Jesus Christ, women had little
rights and were raked in-between a free man and a slave (Souza, 2008).
According to Souza, (2008) Christianity was the first religion to pioneer the following
human rights.
1. Allow widows to refuse to remarry and retain their former husbands estate
2. Gave women security by prohibiting men from living with them without marriage
3. Prohibited married men from having extramarital partners
4. Christian missionaries also ended antiquated traditions involving the abuse of women,
children and cannibalism in third-world countries and primitive societies.
5. Established a pro-life movement that ended Roman practices of infanticide.
6. Led the way in the systematic opposition of slavery
7. Ended Roman Gladiator practices.
Promoting Compassion and Mercy
Prior to Jesus Christs ministry, there is little historical evidence of any kind organized
charity initiative (Souza, 2008). The fact is that the values of Jesus Christ inspired people to
look are giving in new ways. Jesus Christ created a lasting impact on how people see charity and
address the needs of the poor and disabled.
Setting the stage for modern social welfare. It can also be argued that the concept of
volunteerism and corporate social responsibility is derived from the biblical teachings of Jesus
Christ on taking care of neighbors in need (Kennedy, 2014). Corporate Social Responsibility is
the idea that companies go above and beyond what is legally required to ensure stakeholders are
treated ethically or in an socially responsible manner (Mozes, Josman, & Yaniv, 2011).

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Conclusion
It is clear to both believers and non-believers that the positive leadership influence of
Jesus Christ is unmatched by any other leader in the history of humanity. From his humble
beginnings as a carpenter in the small village of Nazareth, to his divine campaign of love, Jesus
Christ continues to be the chief inspiration to numerous leaders throughout the centuries.
As the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ created a lasting impact on society by
promoting principles that protect human life, promote equality, and advance social welfare. The
leadership of Jesus Christ provided the foundation for a better, new way of life, with involves the
values of love, compassion and peace. The servant leadership life of Jesus Christ has forever
transformed society and will continue to serve as a testimony of the divine power of his love and
non-violent movement.
Jesus Christ lived a life of servitude and integrity; he led by example, was dedicated to
professional development through prayer, and resisted temptations to act unethically. To this
day Jesus Christ continues to be able to draw crowds and inspire people with his clear vision of
the Lords heavenly Kingdom. The words of Jesus Christ also continue to carry on as source of
inspiration and strength to billions of his followers who are faced with adversity. From the
soldiers who once stormed the sands of Normandy beach on D-day, to the mother who is
currently preparing to deliver her first child, Jesus Christ lives as a leading source of strength,
consolation, and guidance to all.

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