the weblog of Alan Knox

An imaginary conversation with Jesus about leadership

Posted by on Apr 26, 2010 in elders, office, service | 21 comments

Me: Jesus, I want to be a church leader.

Jesus: That’s good.

Me: Thanks. I’ve been talking to other people about it, and I’ve gotten some good advice.

Jesus: Such as?

Me: Well, I’ve been told that I should find a leadership position, like a Sunday School teacher, or a ministry director, or something like that, and start getting experience being a leader. Then, I should consider going to seminary, because that’s where I’ll really learn what it means to be a leader. After seminary, I can find a position in a church somewhere and really start leading.

Jesus: Oh? And what do you think about that?

Me: Well, it sounds good. I mean, everyone I talked to did it that way, and it seems to have worked for them. But, I was wondering what you thought.

Jesus: Interesting. I don’t usually get asked this question until after the plan is in motion.

Me: What do  you mean?

Jesus: Well, I often get requests from people who are already considered leaders, but I’m not often asked what it means to be a leader in the first place.

Me: Oh. Well, what do you think I should do to be a leader in the church?

Jesus: Serve.

Me: I don’t know much about tennis.

Jesus: No, not tennis. Serve people.

Me: Oh, you mean like “servant leadership”?

Jesus: No, I mean serve people. If I give you an opportunity to serve someone, then do it.

Me: Oh. You’re talking about actually serving people.

Jesus: Yes.

Me: I’m asking you about leadership, though. You know, teaching, making decisions, presenting a vision – your vision, of course – that kind of thing.

Jesus: If that’s what you want, then fine. But, you asked me what I wanted. And, I want you to serve.

Me: What about seminary? Shouldn’t church leaders go to seminary?

Jesus: Seminary – or any other type of education – is fine. It can be very helpful. But, I want you to serve people, whether you go to seminary or not.

Me: But, will people appoint me to a leadership position without a seminary degree?

Jesus: I don’t know. Maybe not. Do you want a leadership position, or do you want to know what I expect of leaders?

Me: Well, I guess I want to know what you expect of leaders.

Jesus: Then, I want you to serve. When I bring someone into your life, I want you to give up your own wants, desires, hopes, even needs in order to take care of them. If they need food, then feed them. If they need something to drink, then give it to them. If they’re sick, then take care of them. I want you to serve.

Me: But, that’s not really leading, is it?

Jesus: That’s exactly what I call leading. In fact, the more you serve, the greater the leader you will be.

Me: But, how is that leadership?

Jesus: I want you to serve, and I want others to serve as well. As people see you serve, they will serve. You will lead them in how to serve as you all serve together.

Me: You know, that’s not really what I was talking about.

Jesus: Yes, I know.

Me: The advice that the other people gave me sounds better.

Jesus: Yes, I know.

Me: If I become the other type of leader, people will follow me then too.

Jesus: Yes, I know.

Me: But, you want me – and others – to serve people?

Jesus: Yes.

Me: Are there any good books that will help me understand what you’re talking about?

Jesus: I’ve always been partial to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts,… well, you get the picture.

Me: Yeah, I think I do.

Jesus: Paul is a great example of service. Do you know how much he gave up in order to serve people?

Me: Well, I haven’t really read it that way.

Jesus: Maybe you should try…

Me: I’ll think about it.

Jesus: I hope you do.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-26-2010

    Just tears…and greatly encouraged.

  2. 4-26-2010

    Oh, and it was good to hear George Burns’ voice again.

  3. 4-26-2010


    Not too early in the morning for me to fully appreciate the irony. The mindset of “Me” is so very common in this neck of the woods, even in those who see themselves as a new, Biblical expression of the church .

    No! I won’t repeat the deacon story:)

  4. 4-26-2010

    I was looking on youtube for some videos of Elizabeth Elliot and came across this clip. She sums up your post quite well.

  5. 4-26-2010


    This is great stuff! I can’t help but wonder what Jesus would think of our “leadership” today.

  6. 4-26-2010


    George Burns? No way… Max von Sydow. 🙂


    Aussie John,

    He’s common here too… I was “me”. Thanks for reminding me of the “deacon” story.


    That’s a great story, thanks!


    I wonder the same thing. This post is a result of some of that “wondering”.


  7. 6-1-2011

    This is great. I wonder what the conversation would be like if it were John C Maxwell? Good and thought-provoking stuff.

  8. 10-13-2011

    Classic…and the young ruler walked away downcast

  9. 12-13-2011

    I think Jesus would make comments about relationship. ‘Well its all about relationship with ‘the least of them’ and not with those who have the most influence’.

    ‘Come follow me’ was not a call to be a star on a stage but to be beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.

  10. 3-29-2012

    OUTSTANDING POST!!! Thank you SO much!

  11. 3-31-2012

    Is that why Catholics call the Pope the Servant of the Servants of God?

  12. 5-29-2012

    for those who insist on following a model of leadership that tracks with the Judaic Priesthood rather than the priesthood of all believers, they might consider the apprenticeship program that produced the greatest church leader of all time. Thirty un remarkable years faithfully caring for his family at home, probably doing carpentry in the community, which prepared him for 3 and a half years of blazing ministry, within the same community and for the same pay.
    Exactly the reverse of a 3 year seminary degree followed by 30 years of ministry.
    not very popular though.

  13. 5-30-2012


    I won’t put words in people’s mouths, but I think some would say there’s a difference between Jesus learning to be a carpenter (first 30 years) and his later “earthly ministry.” However, I definitely agree with you, especially about the apprenticeship aspect. In fact, I’ve often said that “apprentice” would be a good translation of “disciple.”


  14. 9-27-2012

    This is excellent, Alan! Thank you!

  15. 9-27-2012

    This has been the topic of the day, and as this clearly points out, of yesterday, and probably tomorrow as well.

    Thanks Alan!

  16. 9-27-2012

    Chuck and Jim,

    Thank you, both.


  17. 9-27-2012

    Alan, what can I say, except, AMEN. :O)

  18. 9-29-2012

    A simple but powerful conversation.

  19. 9-30-2012

    Jeffery and Manny,

    Thank you!


  20. 6-26-2013

    Some “knox” like these serve as reality checks which point to the degree by which THE BODY( believers) has deviated from the teachings of THE SPIRIT ( Holy Spirit). When our own spirits leave our bodies DEATH RESULTS…..its the same with THE BODY OF CHRIST and the HOLY SPIRIT.
    Lets start to live by re-visiting and putting into practise the basics or foundation of our calling.
    Brilliant, Mr. Knox.

  21. 6-27-2013


    I’m glad that you appreciated this post. “Leadership” among the church would be completely different if we remembered that Jesus said that serving others is leading.