“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
Three years ago, I was blessed to walk our daughter down the church aisle. For our speech afterwards at the wedding reception, I spoke of three hopes my wife, Nancy, and I had for the newlyweds: their marriage and family would be healthy, hope-filled, and helpful. We had endeavored to model these values for our daughter.
Christ hopes that all His followers become empowering leaders. Theologians Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus state: “Leadership is not so much the exercise of power itself as the empowerment of others.” Discipling others to become effective and productive means that they, in turn, will be able to lead others in the fullest expression of Christ’s character.
You may not see yourself as a leader, but we are all called to influence others to follow Christ’s promise to all His disciples: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).
Yet, in the drive to get things done, and perhaps, if we are honest, while trying to convince ourselves or others that we are getting things done, we can forget that leaders have a mandate to empower and equip others. Even while leading in our families, workplaces, friendship groups and wider communities, sometimes we can try too hard to be the heroes. Paul reminds us to empower learners to be leaders: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Empowering others is something Christ teaches and models for us. Connecting with Him and receiving His power (Acts 1:8) led the disciples to shake their world and model His generosity, showing us that the greatest of leaders empowers others.
When the Pharisees and Herodians plotted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6), He countered their scheme by empowering others so His mission could continue. “He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (Mark 3:13-15). He showed us we should not rely on one leader or group of leaders.
Empowering others involves helping others learn. “Only a disciple who is rightly trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). Like Jesus, we must be willing to show the gospel (Matthew 5:13-16, Luke 10:8), speak the gospel (Mark 1:14-15, Romans 1:16-17) and school or train those who respond to live the gospel and lead others to it. Apart from articulating the main areas of discipleship, being an effective leader means modelling a Christ-centered life and patiently mentoring others to make disciples.
As parents, we look back with joy at those opportunities to empower our daughter for this stage of her life and the influence she and her husband can bring to their families and communities.
We all can fulfil Christ’s hope for empowered and empowering leaders. Who does God want to empower through you today?
Michael Mbui, PhD is the Personal Ministries Director for the South England Conference