Jesus and Paul both left immense spiritual legacies. Their approaches to leadership shared many similarities and one profound difference. As servant leaders with a clear calling and vision for God’s glory to be spread to all nations, both Jesus and Paul exhibited core aspects of servant leadership through their lives, strategies, and methods. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but to capture some of the key similarities in their ministries.
Each viewed himself as called by God as a servant sent to proclaim the good news. Understanding and acceptance of one’s calling provides a deep personal sense of security and emotional stability. This stable foundation allows one to freely serve others without risking personal worth. A clear sense of calling also provides motivation to endure through inevitable difficulty and suffering. Jesus frequently referred to his calling and purpose (e.g., Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-4), as did Paul in the majority of his letters (e.g., Rom. 1:1-5; 15:20-21; 1 Cor. 9:15-23).
Intimacy with God
Jesus and Paul constantly affirmed and modeled the fundamentals of pursuing unbroken fellowship and abiding intimacy with God. These practices included devotion (e.g., Mark 1:35; 2 Cor. 11:3), intercessory prayer (e.g., Luke 11:1-13; Eph. 1:15-23), and walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit (e.g., Luke 4:1; Gal. 5:22-23). A servant’s ministry shrivels up when an abiding first love for God is abandoned (e.g., John 15:1-8; Rev. 2:1-5).
Both men constantly referred to the primacy of agapao love. Jesus summarized the entire Old Testament law in two commands: Love God and love people (Matt. 22:37-40). He gave a new commandment to his disciples to love one another “just as I have loved you,” promising that “by this all people will know that you are my disciples (John 13:34-35). Jesus connected love to obedience and to the indwelling presence of the Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). Love was Paul’s dominant ethic, far above service, self-sacrifice, faith, or hope (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-8; Gal. 5:22-23). Paul’s missionary teams were controlled by the love of Christ as they served as ambassadors in the ministry of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-21).
How fresh is your sense of the Lord’s calling? How intimate is your relationship with Him? Are you consistently growing in love for God and others?