Wise leaders have a plan for the time they will no longer lead their team. Read John 21:15-19.
Several weeks have gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some of Jesus’ disciples have left Jerusalem and gone north to their home territory near the Sea of Tiberias. The disciples had fished all night and had not netted a single fish when someone called from the shore and told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat where they would catch fish. When the disciples arrived at the shore dragging a net full of fish they discovered Jesus had breakfast waiting. This was at least the third time that Jesus had bodily appeared to the disciples after His resurrection.
After everyone had finished breakfast Jesus turned to Peter, one of His most trusted disciples, and gave him instructions on how to care for His followers who would be left behind when He returned to heaven. Jesus’ actions on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias reinforced what He had said concerning Peter in Matthew 16 when He said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus appointed Peter to take over leadership of the team He would leave behind.
A few things leaders can learn from Jesus’ example:
- Jesus promoted the future leader of His team from within and did not bring in a highly qualified outsider. Peter was with Jesus as His ministry developed and wholeheartedly accepted the vision and mission.
- Jesus’ criterion for individuals who would lead when He was gone allowed room for imperfections. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give several examples of Peter’s impetuous behavior, a few examples of his lack of self-control and at least one example of complete failure of character when he denied Christ on the night of Jesus’ trial.
- Jesus placed a high value on Peter’s intangible qualities. Just a few examples of intangibles:
- Peter was Jesus’ friend. Often he was singled out to accompany Jesus on a special mission.
- Peter demonstrated special insight concerning Jesus’ identity in Matthew 16.
- Peter trusted Jesus. His trust for Jesus was demonstrated in Matthew 14 when he stepped out of the boat at Jesus’ request to walk on water to meet Jesus.
- Peter was a hard worker. Several times we see him repairing the nets or having fished all night, etc.
- Jesus selected an individual that the others on the team were willing to trust and follow. The Bible gives several examples where Peter was first to take action and the other disciples followed.
Do you have a succession plan in place? Have you even thought about how your organization would function without you? Have you involved your team’s leaders in specific and potentially sensitive areas of the organization that would be needed to lead should something happen to you? Jesus taught and trained His team to assume responsibility for the mission when He was no longer with them. If you are wondering how His succession planning worked, consider the impact of Jesus’ mission on the entire planet over 2,000 years later.
John 17:6-8 “I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your word. Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You. For I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.”