4 Leadership Principles From The Greatest Leader That Ever Lived

Leadership today has turned into a multi-layered, multi-billion dollar industry. You can get degrees, go to seminars, read books, or watch YouTube lessons on how to be the world’s best leader in theory. But leadership isn’t about theory; it’s about experiential relationships. The greatest leader that ever lived gave us four principles for leadership that cross the membranes of family, business, and community to leave lasting impact and change.


Too often we compartmentalize our lives creating a cell for our family life, a cell for work life, a cell for friends, a cell for church life, a cell for our hobbies, and on, and on. When all of these cells come together, they comprise our lives.

The leadership principles that Jesus taught through His life penetrate the membrane of every one of these cells to bring new life. His life brings the fullness of life to every area in order to make the many parts into one.


The 4 Leadership Principles Of Jesus


  • A leader should lead from the front.

Jesus didn’t just tell his disciples and followers how it’s done He showed them. He showed them living a Godly life was impossible in your own strength. He relied on the Father’s life.

Leading from the front is not just a mentality. It is way of living that as the leader you go before your followers showing them the way. When you look at the differences between cowboy and shepherd style leadership, you see “leading from the front” at work.

Leading from the front is not barking orders, and demanding results. It is leading by example taken to the next level. Anyone can set an example, but leading from the front is a never-ending aspect of leadership. It comes alive when you are among the sheep.


  • A leader should “smell like the sheep.”

Hierarchical leadership says, “I’m up here, you’re down there,” or “I’m more important than you because of my title.” This mentality creates a chasm between leadership and everyone else (and even between the varying levels of leadership).

In His book They Smell Like Sheep, Dr. Lynn Anderson provides the illustration that a true shepherd smelled like his sheep. He lived with, slept by, and was constantly around his sheep. Jesus gave the example from his life with His disciples. They lived together, slept together and spent the three years of His earthly ministry together.

As a leader you cannot separate yourself from those you lead. If you are not accessible how can your family, followers, or employees learn from you and grow. If you desire for those around you to grow because of your influence, you have to spend time with them. You have to stand along side them in the “trenches” of life, work, and community.

(John 1:14)


  • The greatest leaders are the greatest servants.

To expound on smelling like the sheep and showing another principle that Jesus taught us is that the greatest leaders are the greatest servants.

whoever wishes to become great [a leader] among you shall be your servant – Matt 20:26

Leadership is about caring and nurturing those you lead and influence. Leadership is service. When leadership becomes about demanding instead of serving, the followers begin to stray. If you desire your workers, your family, or your community to be loyal and passionate about what you are doing, serve them well.

If you talk down to them or create a “do as I say, not as I do” atmosphere they will look for a new leader. This is why many times the leader is not necessarily someone with a “title.”

Serve those you influence, and they will serve you. It becomes a relationship of mutual edification.


  • Finally, a leader should produce leaders.

If it only becomes about the leader, he or she has failed. Leadership is about multiplication. Jesus multiplied Himself eleven times over. The remaining eleven disciples became world changers. They led the spiritual revolution that turned cities upside down.

The life and leadership impact of Christ rocked Israel while he was there, but the influence and impact became exponentially greater when His followers dispersed across the land. Add in the influence of Paul’s travels after his encounter with Christ, and you can multiply it even further.

A good leader leads people to change their lives. A great leader produces more leaders to leave an exponential return of influence.

There is an old Greek proverb that says,

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.


As a leader, what “trees” are you planting today? Are you just managing people, because that is your job, or are you leading people so they can be a greater influence in their homes and communities?

Leadership is more than a title or fancy office. Leadership is service and multiplication. Everyone is a leader is some fashion. Whether you lead in your home, your work place, or your community you can break from the world’s system of leadership and begin to apply these leadership principles from Jesus.


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