Jesus launches into a scathing rebuke of the religious leaders around Him at the dinner table of a local Pharisee (see Luke 11:37-52). This passage begins a list of seven failures that these leaders experienced. The following continues the list of six failures that are prefaced with a dire warning, “Woe to you…”
Here’s #4 – “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.” v 44 (NIV 1984)
Jesus rebukes these religious leaders for they had become toxic to others. They contaminated others with things detrimental to themselves or the work for which they were called. They did this through their poor examples or through their direct influence.
As shepherds of God’s flock, Kingdom leaders bear responsibility for their influence upon those under their care. We must own our influence! This influence can be from our direct leadership decisions, teaching, or the leadership environment we create. Or this influence can be more indirect through the example that we personally set as those we lead watch our personal choices, lifestyle, or the values we uphold through our behavior.
A leader worthy of being followed will be one whose leadership influence promotes freedom in the Spirit (Galatians 5) – not to do as one wants, but rather, freedom to sacrificially serve Christ. Their teaching will be focused on Christ, upholding Him as the model worthy of imitating. Those they lead will flourish in the environment they create for it affirms God-given individual design differences and encourages all to grow to maturity.
These Kingdom leaders are very aware of the influence they have through their personal example. They seek to live a life of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ first and for the sake of others to imitate. While they may have freedom to indulge, they are sensitive to those who may have more sensitive consciences and choose not to for their sake. They would not say, “Do what I say, not what I do.” But rather, “Follow my example as I follow Christ.” (see 2 Timothy 1:13)
Kingdom leaders are sobered by the reality that one day we will have to give an account to the Lord for our leadership (Hebrews 13:17). This accountability is not just the missional component of our leadership, but also the influence that we had on those who followed our leadership. Task and people are both important as we lead.
Are you aware of the influence you have on those around you? Are you setting the pace as well as setting the example worthy of being imitated?