In my reading selections, I try to read from disciplines outside of preaching and theology. Every now and then, I go on a reading binge and get hooked on a particular topic (neurology, cults, prisoners of war, simple things like that). For many years I have been a consumer of business books.
My typical approach to any reading material is to read it and “baptize” it. In other words, I’m always thinking, “How does this apply to the church world?”
Each year, I will plow my way through several books on leadership. Most of these are written from a non-Christian perspective. Good ones have Christian principles embedded within them, even if the author’s don’t recognize them as such. Books on “servant leadership” are a good example of this.
Back in the early 90’s (that’s 1990’s for the younger generation), I bought a copy of “Jesus CEO” by Laurie Beth Jones. The idea was simple: to examine the leadership principles of Jesus. To be fair, the author did a good job finding and explaining those principles. Each chapter was a short, succinct read. Easy to read, easy to apply.
But there was only one problem: Jesus would never make it as a CEO in most companies today. He wouldn’t fit the profile a board of directors might be looking for. I’m not even convinced he would take the title, CEO.
The financial world rewards leaders who are … hard-charging, ruthless, results-oriented, and able to turn a profit.
This is not to say that Jesus didn’t have a clear mission and vision, or that he didn’t care about results. Just read his little talk about bearing fruit … but he never pursued results from false motives or with selfish interests. In fact, there are times that Jesus allows his path to be interrupted by someone who, from a world standpoint, had little to offer to his bottom-line.
If you want to be a CEO like Jesus, be prepared to be misunderstood, perhaps even opposed or persecuted. It might do well to remember that much of Jesus’ “success” came only after his death.