I want to consider the letter of Jude and some of what Jude says about leadership. In doing so, to acknowledge my debt to Walter Wright’s book ‘Relational Leadership’ (Paternoster, 2000) as what I am going to say is largely drawn from that book’s first chapter.
Jude is challenging his readers to be effective Christian leaders. He is worried about their going wrong. He urges them to resist false teaching. There is a lot of stuff there about the dangers of going wrong. However, there is also much that we can draw from this letter that will get us on track with good leadership.
The foundation is laid in the first verse. Here Jude addresses three questions that are essential to effective leadership.
The first question is: who am I? Or do I have worth? It deals with the issue of identity. The second question is: will I be here tomorrow? It deals with the matter of survival. Putting it another way, am I going to last the course? And the third question is: why am I here? It deals with the issue of meaning. What’s the point? What am I about?
So how does Jude answer these questions? Who am I? We are those who are beloved in God the Father. That is what gives us worth. We are loved by God. We are valued by God. We are precious to God. When we start describing ourselves, we nearly always begin with what we do. That is how we identify ourselves. But here is a timely reminder to take a different approach. Our identity is not in our work. It is not even in our leadership. It is in the fact that we are loved by God. What is essential to our identity is that we are in relationship with God.
The question of survival is dealt with when Jude points out that we are kept safe for Jesus Christ. God keeps us secure. The fears and anxieties of today fall into perspective when we remember God’s promise to accompany us. Our relationship with God enables us to hold firm. We need to remember that God has the bigger picture. We need to learn to trust God, even when things aren’t turning out as we might wish.
Next comes the question of meaning. The point here is that we are called. To those who are called. We have been chosen by God to be his people, to be his servants. What is the meaning – what is the purpose of my life? It is to be a child of God. Leadership for Christians is about God, not about us.