If what I’ve said to this point is true, then what are the measurables? What are the indicia that would indicate that the leadership of the church is successfully leading the church?
Well, plainly enough, the longer a Christian walks with Jesus, the more he should be like Jesus.
Therefore, the mark of great leadership would be that the oldest, longest-serving members are the ones most like Jesus.
And what characteristics would mark someone as “like Jesus”? Well, fortunately, the Bible answers this one repeatedly and plainly. Only a few examples should make the point.
(Luk 9:23-24 ESV) 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
To follow Jesus is to live a life of self-denial and to become a sacrifice for his sake. In some sense, Christ-followers lose their lives — and thereby save their lives.
(Luk 14:26-27 ESV) 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
(Luk 9:59-62 ESV) 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Jesus could wax a bit hyperbolic. He wasn’t urging us to literally hate our families. His point — in typically rabinnic language — was that we must prefer Jesus to our families.
Every time a missionary leaves parents behind to follow Jesus in another place, this command is honored. Every time a member suffers the anger and rejection of his family at Thanksgiving and Christmas in order to follow Jesus, this command is honored.
(John 13:14-17 ESV) 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Jesus washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed feet because that’s the nature of true Deity. It’s therefore at the core of what it means to follow Jesus or to be a disciple.
(1Pe 2:21-25 ESV) 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Our example in Jesus is to suffer without retaliation, without threats, without reviling. It’s submission even in injustice.
(Eph 5:1-2 ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
You see, it’s on the cross where Jesus is most truly our example. When we follow Jesus, we follow him to the cross. When we imitate Jesus, we imitate his submission to the powers that crucified him.
As a result, the measurable — the test — of whether we’re truly following Jesus is whether we’re becoming more like Jesus, which is whether we are more and more crucified for Jesus.
There’s more, of course, but this is the crux of the matter.