First of all, I believe one of the best leaders of all time was Jesus. Shocker right? But I believe it. His ability to lead in the time he was here on earth and the lasting effect He had is not comparable to anyone else. I look at the people around me who are phenomenal leaders and I begin to wonder, “What in the world makes them good leaders? Why do people follow them? Why are they thriving?” Here is the realization:

They all have the leadership characteristics of Jesus. Humility. Kindness. Grace.

If you want to lead well, these things need to be present in you, in your ministry leaders and those you take care of. This is why students flocked to these leaders. This is why any leader is respected, followed and leads well. It is because they are like Jesus. The question is, “Do you leak these things?” Chances are that if you as the leader of leaders and of students, if you don’t, the people you lead don’t either.


I mean think about humility for a second. Have you ever walked out of a meeting with a humble leader and thought, “That was a waste of time.” Probably not. In fact, probably the opposite, I always walk away feeling refreshed. When someone is prideful, they leave a bad taste in your mouth. When someone leads with humility, someone who doesn’t grasp power, someone who listens intently and knows when they are wrong and can admit it to help others, people will flock to it.

I remember my first ministry job. I was not humble. I was the opposite. Do you know what the opposite of humility is? Pride. Pride is something I struggled with all of my life. I don’t know if it was because I was a late bloomer in the leading department but the moment I realized people followed me, it became a struggle for me. I see why now Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the desert with power. It can be addictive if you are not careful. It took a hard conversation from Josh to help me realize where my state of mind was and how unhealthy it really was for me and the people around me. 

Humility might be something people desire from a leader but pride will for sure kill anything the Spirit is doing in you.

Granted, Jesus lived a perfect life, but He was the epitome of humility. Just read through Philippians 2. I believe this is why Jesus was a fantastic leader and this is why some of your leaders are fantastic as well.


Has someone ever said something to you that maybe you know you needed to hear but the way that they said it was hurtful? Yes, you might of needed to hear what they had to say but they was they said it made it to the point you didn’t even hear the constructive criticism to make you better because you were hurt on their tone.

What you have to say could build someone up but how you say it to them could tear them down twice as fast.

This is why having a kind leader is so necessary. Sometimes when you hear the word “kind” you hear “push-over”. This is not the case at all. Some people don’t have kindness at all. Jesus had it. In every encounter he had with people (except the Pharisees) as he was doing ministry, he treated them well. He asked them questions. He healed people. He had compassion on them. He interacted with kindness. The leaders who show genuine kindness to your students are the ones you need to praise and lift up and make examples of because this is why students flock to them. This is why they are great leaders.


I always tell our leaders, when a student opens up to you we need to be sure we watch our reactions to whatever it is they are telling us. We need to respond with grace. The leaders who are killing it during our midweek services are the ones who show students the most grace but are correcting in doing so. Students mess up. We mess up. Mature leaders realize the grace to the grace we have been given and proof their realization when they can show and express grace to the students they interact with. Jesus was the master at this is. This is why he is such a great leader.

These are the characteristics all great leaders have. So I have to ask the question, “Do you have these things?” I want to lead like Jesus. These are the things He did and showed us and if you look at your own great leaders (and hopefully yourself) you will see these three characteristics.



About the Guest Author

Justin Knowles has been a pastor for the last 8 years and is the Lead Student Ministries Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees 7th-12th grade and has an amazing team that put on midweek services for junior high and high school students. He is passionate about reaching all kinds of students for Jesus, leading teams and writing about his learnings in ministry on the blog

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