Matchstick Leadership

I love BBQ, but only with a charcoal grill, real fire and all. No electric grills; that’s called teppanyaki, not BBQ. I also love lighting the fire, especially with a matchstick. Yes, there’s a caveman that lives inside me. I would go for flint and stone if it were not so tiring (yes, I know that the modern gas lighter is a sort of flint and stone, and it was invented before the matchstick). 

Why would I describe leadership with a matchstick? It’s because I think it’s a helpful illustration of how Jesus led. The purpose of a matchstick is to ignite itself through friction and light up other combustible material so that fire can be created. Talk about self-sacrificing! 

The life of Jesus on earth gave us a clear picture of what leading while being saturated by the gospel looked like. The foundation of Jesus’ way of life is his self-sacrificial love. He moved as he loved, and as an expression of love, he served, healed, rebuked, guided, encouraged, and transformed those around him, igniting his followers into a movement that became the early church. Just as one of his disciples, Matthew wrote, 

“the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:28, NKJV

Without question, just as a matchstick’s purpose is to light up others, Jesus was focused on igniting his disciples toward kingdom work. Like how a matchstick would first light up the bbq fire by first setting one piece of charcoal on fire that spreads to the others, Jesus started with the 3, followed by the 12, which expanded to the 72. Jesus was so clear in his desire for the gospel to be shared with the world that he even gave the promise that his disciples would do greater things than him!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

John 14:12, ESV

However, Jesus was not driven by purpose, nor was he motivated by achievement. The only thing guiding his leadership was love. 

“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:27, NASB

Jesus viewed those he led with love. He endured, encouraged, and challenged them through love. Jesus even loved those that opposed and hated him. His leadership was saturated with love. 

God is love, and Jesus fully displayed that in his life and leadership. It is most clearly seen in his humility. Through his incarnation, his walk with the outcast, the struggle with the foolish, the washing of feet, the bearing of insult, and the ultimate sacrifice of dying for us on the cross. His life powerfully displayed how a gospel-saturated person would lead others. 

“And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!”

Philippians 2:8, NIV

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