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Dying To Make A Difference By Larry Gadbaugh

Are you dying to make a difference as a leader?

Does Jesus make a difference in how I lead?

How would your staff describe your leadership? If we pay attention, we can find out during significant transitions in the organization. The culture around us is exploding with hope or outrage during transitions social media companies, mandates, and the pending mid-term elections.

Being Distinctive

In my 50 years of leadership, I can’t remember a greater opportunity for Christian leaders to lead in a way that is distinctive from many leaders of many organizations around us.

Jesus challenges the dominant self-promoting leadership mindset of every age, when he said,

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. 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.”


Throughout my life as a pastor, and then as CEO of a non-profit, numerous have shared how the leaders and managers in their workplaces – whether “Christian” or secular – failed to nurture a transparent  environment of trust where they could flourish and grow.

In our current dehumanizing “slouching toward Gomorrah” decade, Jesus’ call for our leadership to be extraordinarily cross-shaped is more urgent than ever. How can we do this? There’s not one of us who is yet so conformed to Jesus’ mindset and character and practice that there’s not room for growth.

Christ’s Requirements

One place to start is with one of Jesus’ more challenging requirements for following him as leaders. Peter had just confessed that “

You are the Christ of God.” Jesus immediately declared the shocking path that his leadership as Messiah was going to take. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

As if that wasn’t enough to rock their world, Jesus continues by unloading the implications of what it takes to be a Jesus-follower:

 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

These disciples were his succession plan. He was transforming them into the world-changers launching the most revolutionary movement in history.

Advancing Your Stewardship

As one who God has captured by his grace and assigned to shepherd others throughout my life, I find Jesus’ requirements convicting and hopeful as I steward his vision for those I serve. Since none of us will ever nail this perfectly, here are a few points we can continue to adopt to advance the stewardship of our leadership.

  • What aspects of my life and leadership am I trying “save” at the expense of Jesus’ mission and the people he’s positioned me to serve?
  • What does it look like to daily deny, crucify, lose that which hinders me from giving myself to Jesus and the stewardship of those I serve and lead?
  • What do I put in its place? How do I more faithfully, completely reflect, represent Jesus in my leadership of those I serve? What virtues of Christ-likeness is Jesus prompting me to cultivate and practice so my leadership is assured to be as productive and transformative as God promises? [see II Pet. 1:3-11].
  • Who among my family, Board, staff, do I welcome to help me with accountability and encouragement to make progress in this pursuit of becoming more like Jesus in my leadership, for the transformation of our culture and the fulfillment of the mission and goals of our enterprise?

Dying Daily

This is a decision and a process to lose everything we’ve tried to preserve. But, daily dying to what won’t last anyway, and yoking with Jesus means that we will make a difference in the lives of those we lead for eternity – because it unleashes Jesus’ grace and Lordship into our world – through us and those we serve.


Larry Gadbaugh is the Executive Director of Oregon Pregnancy Centers Association. He and Diane have been married for 44 years.


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