Departing Well: Setting Your Team Up for Success

The measure of a leader is not what happens in their presence, but rather...

Departing Well: Setting Your Team Up for Success
Jerry Zazzera
December 7, 2021
Difference Makers

Note: The Severn Leadership Group believes the historic Jesus of Nazareth embodies the timeless and transcendent virtues of love, integrity, truth, and excellence, all within the context of healthy relationships. As such, we look to his life as an example of how to live out these virtues. This article is the final article of a three part series of leadership lessons we can learn through observing the life and leadership of Jesus of Nazareth. You can read part one here and part two here.  Although Jesus of Nazareth was a religious leader, this series intends to focus on his leadership, not the religion.

The measure of a leader is not what happens in their presence but what their team accomplishes when they are not around. When leaders cast and cultivate a vision and subsequently develop a team of excellence, they are successful in the short term. However, their legacy of leadership begins not while they are leading but rather once they depart from the organization.  

When an organization loses its CEO abruptly, fear can grip those left behind. If not prepared, confusion and chaos can set in, and the organization can collapse. As Jesus approached the end of his ministry, he demonstrated how to depart well by setting his team up for success.  

The first thing Jesus did was ensure his people had the proper training, giving them the technical competence to carry out the mission and vision. Even though the disciples, all being Jews, had had training in the scriptures in their homes growing up, Jesus continued to teach and reinforce the scriptures the entire time he was with them. Their training in the scriptures was the foundation of the technical competence they would need to sustain them.

The second thing Jesus did was ensure they had the organizational – or relational – expertise they would need. He did this in two parts. First, Jesus set the example of how to serve others and lead through relationships. Second, he provided a resource to help them.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17).  

This “advocate” is the ultimate mentor! It lives inside Jesus’s followers and guides them to do what is right. One might think it is unfair to point out how Jesus was able to supernaturally give a resource to his followers as we are unable to do that. However, what we can learn from his example is how he strengthened his followers’ “core” – their character. Developing the character of followers is something a leader can, and should, do!

It is also important to note that at the event – the Pentecost – this advocate (the Holy Spirit) took up residence in them, giving them a deeper understanding of the scriptures. This fact allowed them to proclaim with confidence the tenets of what became the Christian faith. And instead of just knowing what to do, they began doing it! Leaders must help their followers learn how to translate knowledge into action and values into virtues.

Imparting relational expertise to his followers paid off. Instead of just gathering in the temple courts for teaching as was customary in that time, The Church gathered in homes for fellowship and meals.  Acts 2:44-47 tells us:

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

They took what they learned about healthy relationships through their personal relationship with Jesus and translated it into healthy relationships with one another.

Additionally, the members held each other accountable while building healthy relationships with the surrounding community as well. What started as developing individual disciples turned into developing a healthy organization that then spilled into and strengthened the surrounding community.

This brings us to the third critical thing Jesus did to prepare his organization for his departure. He brought them back to his vision by giving them a specific mission to carry out with the following marching orders:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

As time passed, they held councils to discuss change and adaptability as the church grew from its Jerusalem roots throughout the Roman Empire. They were exposed to different cultures and languages but remained focused on the mission to save the lost and make disciples of all nations.  

This mission continues today, 2000+ years later as The Church continues to grow. Have there been setbacks? Of course. Have there been personnel problems? Absolutely. Despite this, The Church continues to reach people around the world enduring persecution, hostility, and hatred. The mission is both alive and thriving, and the love that Jesus showed others and that others have shown one another based on his leadership and example has served as the fuel to power the Christian church.

No leader can remain with a team or organization forever, but their legacy can. Following the example that Jesus set for setting a team up for success is the hallmark for a truly transformational leader. First, ensure the team has the technical competence to do the job. Secondly, develop their character, helping them translate their values and knowledge into action and develop healthy relationships to sustain the organization and strengthen the community. And, finally, lay out a specific mission that ties directly to the vision.

Departing Well: Setting Your Team Up for Success

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