Rev Canon Dr John Senyonyi
The qualities we demand of our leaders, for example the Members of Parliament, are numerous. They must be high school graduates, among other things. In our Church, a degree holder is of bishopric substance; and universities want a professor at the helm of leadership.
I do not doubt that these are desirable qualifications. Yet examples abound of such suitably qualified leaders running organisations, churches and governments aground. This is testimony that they may be qualified but their leadership is wanting.
Wisdom tells me that it is reckless to conclude this matter here, just as it is also pure cowardice not to mention what is essential in leadership. What is that one prerequisite any leader must not miss?
An answer to this question leads me to one man whose leadership and compelling influence are indisputable, Jesus Christ. The two thousand years since He walked the earth give us enough to muse over.
He was born in a kraal, surrounded by animal filth. No nobility either; His parentage was doubted so much that some insinuated he was a bastard. This word is less insulting today but back then it was a major issue. He was a citizen of the rural, despised town of Nazareth! Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jesus was a despised commoner!
He owned no property; He borrowed everything: food, residency, or whatever He needed for His services. Some people even lost their property because of Him. Remember the house whose roof top was ripped apart to place a paralytic before Him? Who paid for the repairs? And the temple traders who lost their merchandise to the whip-wielding Jesus; that day they reported a loss!
He built no single Church. Many misguided Christians attribute His influence to miracles. However, in the 2,000 years since His death, notable miracles have not always been the hallmark of his followers, but the Church grows on.
He wielded no political power. In fact each time He came close to the halls of power, they hated Him. And He too seemed repelled by political clout. The Jerusalem who-is-who found Him insufferable. Herod turned Him into a plaything. Pilate could not figure Him out or understand why this helpless street preacher evoked so much ire in the Jewish religious establishment.
But the climax of it all is how He died, after claiming He had a much more invincible army at His beck and call! He was like a dreamer. Where was it? His hunters jeered, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He
is the king of Israel…” But that one event, His crucifixion, has compelled millions to follow Him! What is it about the Cross that draws many to Jesus? He taught the inescapability of the Cross, not only for Him, but indeed for all who follow Him. My thesis is that the one prerequisite for a leader is the Cross. It was customary that a person condemned to die on the Cross would also carry it to the appointed place of execution. Carrying the cross stood for three things: The Cross spells condemnation. The carrier of the Cross would finish his life at the place of crucifixion, a death of self- interest. The man crucified had no more of his life to live. Jesus says, “Carry the Cross … follow me.” If you have died to your life, there remains one life to live, the Jesus life. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”, says Paul. In this, leadership finds a reason not to be self- serving. A leader’s desires, ambitions and exercise of authority are reined in by the will of the Christ. The most lethal enemy to leadership of any sort or service at the workplace
is the service to “I”. That must be crossed out by carrying your cross.
Cross-carrying is a one- way journey. The cross- bearer was constrained to walk toward his execution venue. If you carry the cross you are surrendering to walking in one direction only, following Jesus. Years ago, I read a little Christian fiction book, “In His Steps.” It introduced the question, “What would Jesus do?” though many today may not know where the acronym WWJD came from. Cross-bearing leadership always asks that question.
The cross means no further plans for the bearer. I have never been on a journey to my death physically, as I will be someday. At that point I imagine tomorrow’s developmental projects will not be my concern. Along the way to the cross there are no meal times, no rest room stops, or the routines we take for granted. To carry the cross is to resign my plans so as to follow Jesus’ plans alone. Such a leader is inspired by the love of Jesus and works for the good of all, rather than for self.
If you aspire to be a leader, I commend to you the one indispensable prerequisite: “Take up your cross daily