Jesus made a significant impact by making a small imprint.
Jesus was a masterful leader. He was intentional. Purposeful.
When we think of his influence, and how his message continues to grow thousands of years and billions of followers later, we are in awe because he did not do the successful, popular or inspiring things. He did not seek fame. He did not lord his power over others or try to establish an empire on earth. He did not have social media or the benefits of technology.
Jesus was true to his teachings, even when it was difficult for his audience to hear:
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37).
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22).
“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
Simply put, Jesus did not go big. On the contrary, oftentimes when he had a large crowd or performed a miracle, he drew away for times of rest.
In those sacred moments, Jesus taught his disciples the truths about the kingdom of God, and informed them of the purpose to which they were called.
Through his earthly ministry, Jesus modeled the way for his disciples to live. According to his kingdom mathematics and the old school saints, the way up is the way down in the Lord. In biblical language, God reminds his people that his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8). In reference to the kingdom, Jesus himself taught that “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 20:16).
Jesus made a significant impact by making a small imprint. The gospels reveal that he did not spend his time chasing the crowds. Jesus invested the most amount of time with a small amount of people—his 12 male disciples and the group of faithful women who supported his ministry.
Whether you are a pastor, church planter, volunteer, parent or a Bible teacher, there are a few ways that you can also lead like Jesus.
• Make the commitment to mentor. Invest in a small group of people over an extended period of time; then teach and show them how to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
• Set a table of truth. Jesus was the living word, sound theology in the flesh. Yet, Jesus understood that people did not just need the truth of his words. They needed a relationship, his presence. They needed to know that he was acquainted with their suffering. Your mentees need the same authenticity from you.
• Teach the spiritual disciplines. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray just like John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray. Then Jesus taught them. It is easy to assume that people have or understand the basics when they come to church. Sometimes they do not, and even if they do, there are ways that all of us can be stretched to learn spiritual disciplines, which God can use to shape our hearts. We can ask others or be asked by our mentees, “Teach me how to study. Teach me how to forgive. Teach me how to fast. Teach me how to love.” You need to be prepared to show them.
In Christ’s earthly ministry, small was always the way.