Whereas it used to be news, the impact of globalization on everything we do has become common knowledge. With this knowledge also comes the recognition that leaders today must have a global perspective. So, I finalize this series on Jesus as a Model Leader asking the question: “Was Jesus’ perspective global?”
What is a global perspective?
In an unpublished Global Awareness Proposal, Dr. Robert Reese, Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Ministry at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, defines a global perspective as
a recognition and appreciation of the size, complexity, and diversity of the earth conceived as a single entity. It is literally a worldview…. It enables us to perceive the vastness of the world, its dynamic complexity, and the diversity of its peoples and cultures.”
Jesus Had a Global Perspective
I believe Jesus’ vision for his church encompassed the whole world. I base this conclusion on several of his actions and teachings.
For instance, while his contemporaries were entangled in a bitter dispute about whether the proper place to worship should be Jerusalem or Samaria, Jesus predicted a time when the correct answer would be “none of the above.” He had a vision of a community in which geography would no longer be a consideration for membership.
I am referring to the biblical account of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well (John 4). Speaking with a woman in public would have been enough of a scandal in those days but, to complicate things even more, the place where this encounter took place was Samaria. The animosity between the Jews and their Samaritan neighbors was so intense that the Jews would often add miles to their travel circumventing the entire region of Samaria. As was often the case, Jesus ignored social protocol and crossed the boundaries keeping people separated. While there are many insights to be gleaned from this encounter, I want to focus on verses 20-24 and his discussion about the proper place to worship God.
The woman tried to open the conversation by bringing up an age-old dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans about the correct place to worship God (probably thinking this was the only topic Jewish men ever wanted to talk about when addressing Samaritans). His response marks one of the most revolutionary departures from traditional thinking ever pronounced by a global leader.
Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24).
The promise to Israel as a nation concerning the land was a limited and local promise; its focus was primarily the ancient land of Palestine. The purpose of this was to create a community separate from the rest of the world.
You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations (Leviticus 20:24).
Jesus, on the other hand, also taught his followers that they would inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). This was a marked change from the promise given to the nation of Israel.
Jesus also called his followers the salt of the earth, not merely the salt of Palestine (Matt. 5:13).
His prayer was for a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
In his post-resurrection meeting with his disciples in Galilee, Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). The word translated “nations” was not understood as our modern English word “nations.” It had more to do with the many tribes and foreign peoples of the earth.
These references and more demonstrate that Jesus had a global perspective and he expected his church to encompass the entire globe.
As leaders, what can we learn from Jesus about being a global leader? I see several principles of global leadership active in the life of Christ.
- Though our local vocation may be extremely intense and consuming — we must always keep our eyes upon the wider global environment.
- All organizations must participate in the global economy; we are all connected.
- The wider the span of our influence in a global economy the more we need a focused inner source of spiritual renewal.
- In our current world of interconnectedness — enabled largely by technology — physical location ceases to be a primary concern.
- Loyalty based on geographical boundaries will be replaced by loyalty to ideas.
- Global leaders possess a clear vision of how their particular vocation (company, product, service) will be a blessing to the entire globe.
I conclude, therefore, that we can look to Jesus as our role model for global leadership. What do you think?
Photo: Illustration from The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 1850. No known copyright restrictions
Dr. Greg Waddell is passionate about helping church leaders equip their people for ministry. He believes there is wild potential in every believer that begs to be released. He can help you develop and implement practical strategies for increasing the ministry capacity of your congregation.