The 5 ‘C’s of Jesus-Shaped Leadership: Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Last week, we began this series by affirming that Jesus’ view of Christian leadership is the one that counts, and if we are going to raise disciple-making leaders for God’s mission in church and world, then no other view ultimately counts.

Additionally, we saw from Jesus’ teaching example that in His (glorious) opinion, great leaders are great servants.

Since every Christian leader is always a disciple first, therefore the prototype of leadership for every Christian leader is Christ himself, since leaders are first and foremost, disciples of Jesus. And Jesus modeled servant-leadership.

In the historic churches therefore, one is always ordained to the diaconate as a deacon first, prior to ordination as a presbyter or elder. The call to lead is always at the base level, a call to serve. Leadership is diakonia or service.

Today, we begin to look specially at what I call the 5 ‘C’s of Jesus-shaped leadership – five critical elements that constitute divinely approved and inspired leadership in Scripture and history. The first of this is ‘Call’.

God, rich in grace and mercy, calls us to himself. Disciples are those who respond in repentance and faith. Similarly, leadership is first and foremost the call of God to a man or a woman towards a godly task and vocation. It is not a job for hire. No prophet or apostle in the Scriptures ever applies to be one. God calls, and still does, and part of the call of the church at last, is to exercise a godly discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit, to which amongst us are called to exercise leadership.

Disciples and leaders, like sheep, are safe so long as they learn to heed the call of their Master and Chief Shepherd.  

Years ago, when I was an under-graduate studying in London, I went with an international student group to stay on a farm in Cornwall, in South-West England – a novel experience for city-folk like me. One of our fellow students, a fine Christian man, was a farmer there. He was into poultry farming but also kept a flock of sheep. We had a great time visiting the flock with him. We noticed the sheep responded to a distinctive sound he made to call them. I remember a few of us trying to imitate the calling sound he made, but none of the sheep were deceived to follow us.

They had come to know the voice of their shepherd (John 10:4-5; 16). Jesus-shaped leadership flourishes when we develop an ear for hearing and obeying the voice of God. This must be clear and discern-able.

We know from the Gospels that Jesus had a habit of spending alone time with his Father in prayer (Luke 5:16 – something he taught disciples to do in Matthew 6:8). I find it interesting that Luke tells us that Jesus spent a night in prayer prior to calling and appointing his twelve disciples (Like 6:12-16). Why did he spend the night in prayer? I believe that the choice of his closest companions in ministry was a matter of vital importance to Jesus, and he diligently sought the Father’s mind on this, interceding for those so-called.

Consequently, every instance of the appointing of leaders (elders, deacons, etc) in the book of Acts is done in the context of prayer and often, fasting – Acts 1:23-26; 6:6; 13:3; 14:23. We don’t simply elect the leaders among us – we seek to discern God’s call and appointment on those he’s chosen. This was no flippant exercise of popularity, but a discerning of who God has called.

One qualifies for leadership only if one can prove a call from God. J. Oswald Sanders in his classic treatise on the subject, wrote that ‘Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or churchly assemblies. God alone makes them. One does not become a spiritual leader by merely filling an office, taking course work in the subject, or resolving in one’s own will to do this task. A person must qualify to be a spiritual leader.’ The call of God must be discerned or be clear in us. Whom God calls, he qualifies.

The clear evidence of a calling we receive to leadership is shown in the next ‘C’ on our list – character, which we will discuss next week.

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The 5 ‘C’s of Jesus-Shaped Leadership: Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Jesus-shaped Leaders (by Manik Corea)

Discipleship can be defined as the redemptive process of learning to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus. It is coming to see all of life from the Father’s point of view and for his glorious ends, as Jesus did (John 5:19-20, 6:38). We are called likewise in Scripture to view people, our circumstances and the world from an altogether different vantage point than the world does (see 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, Colossians 3:1, 2).

In the Gospels, the teaching, parables and sterling example of Jesus often challenged the disciples to see things from a completely different standpoint, one that did not come naturally to them. Old habits die hard, but die they must, if the new is to prosper.

Indeed, for us to become bona-fide disciples, we will need new eyes – bereft and healed of our myopia and blindness from the cataract-like effects of sin and self-centeredness. These prevent clear sight and right response to the will and ways of God. We need sight that Jesus supernaturally bestows and restores, not merely improves – so that we can truly say, ‘I was blind, but now I see’.

But seeing afresh with new eyes is a challenge because we have gotten so used to seeing ourselves and the world about us through bad eyes in the dark night of sin. Too many of our perceptions and underlying beliefs have been framed and informed by years of following the notions and distortions afforded by faulty vision.

A case in point is the popular understanding of leadership versus Jesus’ startling teaching about it. In this next series of blogs, I want to take a look at some biblical principles and insights regarding a kingdom understanding on the call and role of leaders in the church and mission of God. I am calling it ‘Jesus-shaped leadership.’

Jesus saw leadership very differently from the way it is viewed in our world. In our world, it is all about power, influence and achievement– how high you got in order to dominate (negatively) or command (positively) people, where the loci of influence is your leadership style, personality and competence.

Jesus taught and modeled a different way of leadership that was not simply about the use (or abuse) of power for personal or instrumental benefit or corporate profit. Instead, it had godly influence and purpose, with an other-person focus. He defined it strictly in terms of ‘servanthood’ – the helping and building up of others in love and truth.

In the church therefore, leadership isn’t about how high your performance curve extends, but how low your service stoops.

Jesus’ object lesson on this is at the start of the Upper Room discourse, the night he is arrested and sentenced to die as recorded in John chapters 13-16. In John 13:1-17, Jesus does something which stuns his disciples. We read in verses 3 and 4 that Jesus, cognizant of his divine authority and soon-coming ascension, paradoxically rises to get basin and water to wash the feet of his disciples as only the lowliest of slaves would do.

Why this lesson, and why now? Perhaps the context for his action is in Luke’s account of their time in the upper room, where we read that there was a dispute among them about who is the greatest (Luke 22:24). Even at this desperate hour, they were still thinking about who gets positions and titles. Jesus called them (and calls us) not to seek for titles, but to serve with towels.

He drives home the intended teaching in John 13:14-15: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Jesus-shaped leadership confounds the strong and mighty of our world. Humility and lowly service, not power and authority, are its hall-marks.

“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 11:43-45).

In Jesus’ eyes, to lead is to serve. No more, no less.

Jesus-shaped Leaders (by Manik Corea)

Which way now? (By Revd Manik Corea).

I have always loved that part in Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, when Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for directions on which way to go. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ replied the cat. When Alice responds that she doesn’t much care where, the Cheshire Cat retorts wisely: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

Destination determines direction.

What is your mission in life? What is the ultimate direction your life is heading towards?

That is a life-defining question that we Christians seldom (or never) ponder. But as disciples of Jesus, it is beholden on us to know what on earth God has put us here for – i.e. our specific vocation and calling, and to be obedient and fulfilled in it for His glory.

But the word ‘mission’ itself can be a scary one for many Christians. For many, it conjures up images of being sent, often against our will, to far off lands to share to unresponsive or even hostile natives the good news of Jesus, perhaps ending up as someone’s supper!

We think it is a job for few special people or a committee of the church. Mission is for the super-committed Christian who is ready to give up the comforts of his everyday life for the privations of some higher calling.

Such a dichotomy is plainly unbiblical. To be a genuine Christian is to be a disciple of Christ (Luke 9:23). And to be a disciple involves becoming a participant in God’s great mission to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospels and to make disciples of all nations (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19). We are all called to cross the street where we live as disciples on mission. A few of us are called to also cross the seas. The question is whether we will obey or not.

In Scripture, ‘mission’ is a comprehensive descriptor of God’s desire and purpose to redeem a people for Himself, for whom He will be their sovereign God and they will be His devoted people. (Genesis 17:7; Exodus 6:7;  Jeremiah 31:33, 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27;  2 Corinthians 6:16 and principally Revelation 21:3).

At the same time, it also demarcates the whole scope of activities that God initiates engages in the world for His great end i.e. the spread of His kingdom rule to the ends of the earth through the victory and salvation wrought on the cross of the resurrected Christ.

As Christian Wright so eloquently in his book, ‘The Mission of God’s People’[1], ‘mission’ must by definition encompass not only the ‘sent-ness’ of Christ as God’s Messiah into the world, and His people with Him, but includes everything we are, do and say in relation to that purpose and mission of God’s renewal and rescue of a lost and dying world to himself. It must therefore involve all of our lives.

Against an increasingly intrusive global culture that breeds distraction, doubt, despair and narcissism and leads us in all the wrong directions, the Gospel is the only right way to go.

That God may be known by us and through us to others – for His great glory, that is the end. This is true mission, worth living and dying for.


[1] Christopher J. Wright, The Mission of God’s People (Michigan: Zondervan, 2010).

Which way now? (By Revd Manik Corea).

What’s in a Word?

‘Disciple’ is the word most commonly used for a follower and believer in the risen Jesus in the book of Acts.[1] Jesus instructed us in his final command of Matthew 28:18-20 to ‘make disciples’ as the overarching focus and mission of his post-resurrection church, as told to his appointed pioneers of that universal church. And we know from Acts and the rapid spread of the Gospel in the Roman world in the first few centuries that this was certainly their practice.

Yet, being a disciple today may mean something entirely different. How often it is in churches around the world as I’ve traveled, that I have found discipleship to be reduced and redacted to something less than it should be. It is often seen only as a short-term follow-up course or program for new believers or a description for adult Sunday school classed or bible studies for serious believers. At worse, it is seen as synonymous with other popular words like mentoring and coaching. John Ortberg, Christian pastor and teacher comments thus:

“Words pick up baggage, so disciple, a great New Testament word, has come to mean a time-limited process that you can finish. Growing up, I’d hear people say, “I’m discipling him.” They meant, we’ll meet for a while and then we’ll finish and he’ll be discipled. That usually involved getting together at Denny’s at 6:30 in the morning and working through some kind of curriculum. The New Testament never uses disciple in that way. To be a disciple of Jesus was something all followers did in community, and did their whole lives long.”[2]

He is of course right – Discipleship that is not life-long and reproducing is neither biblical nor Jesus-pleasing. God has taught us at NAMS that we must call the Church of Jesus Christ back to an understanding of discipleship as Jesus and his apostles taught and lived it.

The good news is that we are living in days when the word ‘disciple’ and the work of ‘disciple-making’ is being recovered and reclaimed through the sovereign work of God’s Spirit around the world by missionaries, pastors and leaders as never before.

There is a greater realization today that being and making disciples is a fundamental call and work for all obedient followers of Jesus. We live in days when disciple-making movements around the world are paving the way for new church-planting and Gospel transformation in previously unreached people groups.

In the same vein, NAMS as a missionary society was founded in 1994 to model, train and call the church and all Christians to obedience to Jesus’ final command to make disciples of all peoples. We do this by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and seeking to plant disciple-making churches.

In this new year, it is our prayer and hope that together, we can be growing and reproducing disciples of Jesus, so that his Kingdom may come on earth and His Gospel reach the ends of the earth.


[1] See for example Acts 6:1-2, Acts 6:1-2,6:7; Acts 9:1, Acts 9:1,9:10, Acts 9:10,9:19, Acts 9:19, 9:26, Acts 9:26, 9:38; Acts 11:26, Acts 11:26. Butler, Trent C. Editor. From entry for ‘Disciples’. Holman Bible Dictionary. Accessed at http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/d/disciples.html. 1991.

[2] John Ortberg in ‘Holy Tension’ – interview with Leadership Magazine. Accessed at http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2004/winter/1.22.html


If you would like to learn how to be a disciple-making disciple, you can find the following resources on our website that can help you be obedient to Jesus’ final command:

www.namsnetwork.com/assets/dmdsteps.pdf  An e-book clearly outlining a 7-step process to become a disciple who makes disciples by Canon Revd Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General.

Praxis is a 4-week small group training course on how to be a disciple-making disciple. The workbook for this course can be found at:
www.namsnetwork.com/assets/praxi-course-workbook_v2.pdf
with a facilitators/leaders guide at:
www.namsnetwork.com/assets/praxi-course-leader-guide.pdf

You can also watch our 7-part YouTube video series on being and making disciples: go to www.youtube.com and type ‘NAMS Disciple Making Discipleship Course’ in the search bar.

This resource is an offering to the Church universal to begin to apprentice, learn and practice the ‘family business’ that is the vocation and inheritance of all true Christians.

What’s in a Word?

A Partnership in the Gospel – NAMS Cuba Retreat, December 2018

3 people traveled to Cuba recently from our NAMS Latin America base in Chile, including our NAMS Latin America Team Leader Andrés and companion Juan Tamayo.

Cuban scene

They arrived in Havana accompanied by 4 bags full of donations from the NAMS community in Chile, which included medicines, food, clothing and items for the Retreat.

They spent one night at the home of R and M, who are our NAMS local leaders at Havana. The next day, we took an expensive 3-hour taxi to Cienfuegos.

On their arrival, they were greeted by Pastor R and his wife I, who are leaders of our NAMS partnership in Cienfuegos. From there, they ‘traveled’ to the retreat place on a special taxi (- see picture below).

Cuban taxi

It was a joy for them to meet with each of the families of church planters that our NAMS Base Community in Chile is supporting. They also met with many other people – the elderly, women, children, youth and adults who were involved in various ministries. A total of 60 people were part of the NAMS retreat. All are involved in discipleship and church planting, whether through sports ministries, children’s ministries, family ministries or direct church-planting, etc.

Our NAMS leaders were able to give training over 3 days on topics like Biblical Discipleship, the Great Commission and the Planting of Churches based on Acts 2:42. The training was for both those we have been supporting financially as well as others that we aren’t able to currently.

The last day was a special time because leaders of two communities of faith that we support presented to the Lord 7 new believers whom were baptized by the NAMS team along with pastor R, in the waters of the Caribbean Sea. They were like first-fruits of our partnership and work. The joy and emotion on the part of all the believers was manifest, and they gave glory to God with prayers, praises and songs with tears. After that, they said goodbye to each participant of the retreat.

They also managed to visit some of the church communities that had been planted, praying for the leaders and sharing with each of them their dreams and longings to serve the Lord on the Island. They opened their hearts to our NAMS team about their willingness to continue serving in the midst of difficulties. They also discovered that the 7 church planters received support from us were in fact sharing that support with others who were not yet officially receiving support from us. We believe that if our support is increased, there will be a wider and greater impact – we pray this will happen in time. Overall, our NAMS team witnessed the wonders that the Lord is doing on the island using these humble brothers in the faith.

We thank God with great joy for the opportunity to visit and partner with these precious brothers and sisters in Cuba for the Gospel.

* Names not given for security reasons

in Cienfugos

A Partnership in the Gospel – NAMS Cuba Retreat, December 2018

An Advent Prayer (by Manik Corea)

Advent is a season of celebration and preparation. It calls us to look back with gratitude for the incarnation of our Lord, and to godly repentance and active readiness for his second coming. It is the yearly reminder to the people of God of the ultimate destiny we are called into, a kingdom we must all seek, work for and proclaim, as we await its consummation in the return of Christ.

Against the three-fold enemy of God’s people – sin, the world and the devil, it calls us against despair and doubt, to renewed hope and faith in His plans, purposes and power to bring about His transformative purposes in our world.

The following words from poet Roger Spiller is a prayer for us to seek to partner and participate with God in His mission and advent hope for our world today. May it be your prayer and mine today….

Lord, you call us to be story-tellers:
planting your explosive news into our defended lives;
locating us in the script of your human history.

You call us to be trailblazers:
living in your future that we receive only as gift;
subverting the fixed, fated world of low horizons.

You call us to be weavers: tracing, stretching, connecting the knotted threads;
gathering up unravelling, disconnected lives.

You call us to be fools – for Christ’s sake:
bearing life’s absurdities and incongruities;
puncturing our seriousness and grandiosity.

You call us to be hosts:
welcomers of the sacred, intimate, transfiguring;
lavish celebrants of our communities and homecomings.

You call us to be poets: artists and illuminators of inner space; naming, invoking, heralding your ineffable presence.

You call us to be gardeners: sowers, cultivators, nurturers of fragile lives;
benefactors of your gratuitous harvest.

You call us to be conductors celebrating polyphony, coaxing symphony; orchestrating the praise of your inhabited creation;

Lord, you lavish gifts on all whom you call. Strengthen and sustain us and all ministers of your church, that in the range and diversity of our vocation, we may be catalysts of your kingdom in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

An Advent Prayer (by Manik Corea)

Immeasurable Love (by Revd Manik Corea)

When Maple and I got married, we picked as our wedding verse 1 John 4:19, ‘We love because he first loved us.’

This pithy but sublime verse captures the overwhelming sense we had that our love story was subsumed within a much larger one, from which we were gifted and extended succor and mettle for all our life together. ‘His love will be the glue in this marriage,’ I said in my wedding speech. Indeed, we owe Him all our lives.

Our God is a God who loves, since He is love (1 John 4:8). It forms the very ‘fabric’ of His character and work. It underlines and crowns His every purpose and plan. Scripture reveals then that we are the primary objects and receptors of His love in creation and redemption. And so we are enjoined: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; His steadfast love endures forever.’ (Psalm 107:1).

Love is also raison d’être He has commanded us to live by (see Matthew 22:37-40). It is the reason that we are sent into the world to represent Him and proclaim His kingdom come, in Christ. 

During the recent NAMS Global Leaders gathering, I shared with the leaders and Companions present a portion of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:24-19 when he prays specifically that the Ephesians might comprehend with all saints the ‘breadth and length and height and depth’ of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

As I reflected on these four definitive nouns that attempted to make concrete the overwhelming and frankly, eternally immeasurable (thus ‘surpassing’) nature of God’s love for us, I began to see that these same measures could also be overlaid over the final command that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:18-20 – that compelling job-description for His faithful church. It helped me see that even here, God’s love was paramount.

Firstly, the breadth of God’s love is wide enough to include all peoples. Matthew 28:19 calls us to make disciples of ‘all peoples’. His Gospel work comprehensively includes all nations everywhere and so His mission call to us is to go both next door and to the ends of the earth with that good news. Did not Jesus say that because God loved the world, He sent His son to save it? The breadth of God’s love is for everyone.

Secondly, as Jesus makes clear in Matthew 18:20, the length of God’s love towards a sinful world is extended for all time and history – as long as it is possible for lost people to be reached and to come home to Him (see 2 Peter 3:8-9). This same love will endure in His people forever so that we will never get to the end of it.

Thirdly, the height of God’s love extends as high as the heavens where God sits enthroned, to the earth where we are. Simply put, Jesus is Lord (Matthew 28:18). No other name is greater, no other authority is higher, no other love will suffice. Therefore, we can make disciples in all the places He sends us.

Finally, the depth of God’s love is seen and demonstrated in the incarnation and passion of Jesus, when He came down to earth, and was driven deep into dark and hell with the weight of our sins on Him (see Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

But Matthew 28:19 further calls us as disciples of that same Risen Christ to make other disciples.

When Jesus tells the story of two builders in Luke 6:47-49 to contrast obedient and disobedient hearers of His words, he describes the wise and obedient one as one who ‘dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.’

True genuine love that results in life-long discipleship will is a call to dig-down deep into Christ, our rock. ‘The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.’ (Richard Foster).

Discipleship is itself a call to go deep into our love for God and people so that we can go far and wide with and for Him.

Oh, the breadth, length, height and depth of God’s love that saves us and sends us out on mission with Him! May you and I not only know and revel in this love but purposefully make it known to others.

 

 

 

 

Immeasurable Love (by Revd Manik Corea)