Jesus and Leadership Intentionality

J. Robert Clinton writes:

“Recruitment refers to the deliberate effort to challenge potential leaders and to engage them in on-going ministry so that they will develop as leaders and move toward the accomplishment of God’s destiny for their lives.”

I see the intentionality Clinton describes as sadly lacking throughout the Christian movement of our day. It is one of the greatest shortcomings in the traditional, institutional church. Regardless of what continent we observe, the leadership gaps are daunting.

In the Western world, the problem persists in new expressions of the church as well. In my exposure with the “emerging church,” this seems particularly true as the movement reacts to the top-down, autocratic, hierarchical models of modernity. But I fear in this reaction, what is lost may be worse than the distortion which has rightly provoked the reaction.

There is no way, if we are faithful to the historical texts, that we can get around the intentionality of Jesus in the cultivation, selection, and development of those who followed him and who were to be the leaders of the movement he left behind. His strategy was elegant and highly intentional. it was not democratic. It was not consensual. It was not egalitarian.

While not mechanistic, Jesus was incredibly deliberate in this pursuit because he knew the future of what he had begun depended upon its outcome. And his “recruiting” to his Kingdom cause was a profoundly spiritual undertaking.

One of the more thorough studies of this theme, overlooked in our time, is Scottish theologian A. B. Bruce’s The Training of the Twelve. First published in 1871, its original extended title – in true 19th century form – was “Passages out of the Gospels Exhibiting the Twelve Disciples of Jesus Under Discipline for the Apostleship.” Nevertheless, for over a hundred years it has been considered one of the major Christian classics of the 19th century.

*Painting is by the Italian master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610) depicting the resurrected Christ and Thomas the doubting disciple.

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