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Dying to Lead By Dr. Rob McKenna

The Decision to Lead Like Christ

It’s tough when you lead to selling an idea that suggests outcomes don’t come first, that the survival of your organization isn’t priority number one, and that preservation, profitability, meaning, self-actualization, happiness, confidence, and results aren’t the point. That’s a tough sell. If the concept of sacrificing yourself as a leader were popular, much wouldn’t be at stake. A close examination of Philippians 2:5-11 offers advice that is difficult to swallow but offered as a command for leaders who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.”

Philippians 2:5-11 

If Christ is the ultimate role model, who wants to get in line to be crucified? The line forms here; I assure you, no one will cut before you.

Attitude Of Christ

First off, your attitude should be like that of Jesus Christ. Okay, I can handle that.

Next, Jesus Christ is God, was God, and forever shall be God. But here comes the rub. Even though He was God, He didn’t consider that fact something to be grasped or held closely. He let go of the power of His “Godness.” Jesus Christ was fully God, yet even He was willing to let go of the power and ego associated with being all-powerful.

Understand the Command

This is key to our understanding of the attitude God is commanding. Even though Jesus was fully God, He was willing to let go of that fact to empty Himself to the point of a servant for the sake of obedience and in the face of the most humiliating death imaginable – death on a cross. Jesus was fully God yet chose not to let that overwhelm him so He could sacrifice Himself for the world. Whatever you need to feel isn’t the priority. God calls us to humility, sacrifice ourselves, and let go. Instead of a nod, that should cause us to pause, considering God’s request. The problem is that we often don’t even take the time to pause as leaders. We don’t have the time. 

Willing to Let Go

If we are commanded to take on the attitude of Jesus Christ as a leader, what attitude are we to assume? Think about the things you hold most tightly and be honest about it. Think about the conversations that start your day. Think about those things that cause you to worry. For many of us leaders, the attitude we assume is self-preservation, not letting go of our all-powerful selves. In essence, if Jesus Christ was willing to let go of His power and perception of His being the omnipotent Son of God, are we willing to let go of what makes us, as leaders, the gods of our lives? 

First Things, First

What are you grasping onto as a leader? Do you wake up each morning and consider the things you need to release to make obedience to God the center of your life, or do you wake up each day thinking about how to make more money, keep your business in the phone book, get to the next management level, get that promotion, or keep up with your peers? Do you consider the size of your house, your income relative to your peers, the size of your church, the number of people who think you’re a great leader, your level in your organization, the credit you’ve received, and how to support your lifestyle because that would finally mean you were successful and providing for your family? If you haven’t reached the income level or level on the corporate ladder you desire, but you are consumed by those goals, you are in the same boat as others ahead of you.

Your Daily Sacrifice

In contrast, do you wake up each morning offering your life as a sacrifice for the needs of others, in obedience to God? 

God is asking for that attitude without the promise of riches, comfort, self-actualization, promotion, increased revenue, or an effective team, but with the promise of a heart connected to His heart and the possibility of something eternal occurring every day you lead. Sacrificial leaders would lay it all down for Christ’s sake. There may be fewer than we hope, but they’re out there. They are aware of the temptation to make it all about success as they define and need it, and that awareness gives them the ability to put everything in their lives and leadership on the line for the sake of obedience to God’s calling. What are you most afraid of losing?

What if all those fears were gone—what would you do next? What two things are the most difficult for you to sacrifice, and why are they difficult sacrifices? Sacrificial leadership starts with permitting those fears and the things we hold back to be named and even put on the altar. Then, the whole and inspiring work begins!


Dr. Rob McKenna is the CEO and Founder of WiLD Leaders, Inc., Named one of the top 30 I-O Psychologists alive today. Dr. McKenna is passionate about developing leaders and transforming how we see the people in our organizations.

For the Outcomes Conference 2024, Dr. Rob McKenna will lead a WiLD Leader conversation in the noon General Session on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, He will take senior leaders on a growth journey during the annual CEO Forum.

Now is the perfect time to reserve your seat. You won’t want to miss any of it!



What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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