Informed by Self-Awareness and Others-Awareness, the emotionally intelligent leader is able to adjust their behaviour both in general and to respond to specific issues, with the goal of developing excellent relationships with others. From the servant leadership perspective this enables them to help those they lead to grow and develop to achieve their full potential as they serve God. In this topic we will look at some examples of how Jesus related to others and consider some general tips for self-management.
Self-management is the capacity to adjust one’s behaviour to that of others.
Amongst other things, Jesus is our role model both as Christians and as Christian leaders. The goal here is to look at several passages from the Bible to see how Jesus managed his reactions in these situations; how he dealt with people individually in their situation and how he did not respond in the way other people did. Does he provide us with an example, a model to follow?
Take a Moment:
As each story comes up pause the video and read the passage in your Bible and see how Jesus behaved compared to other people or, given the background, how you might have expected them to behave. How do these observations help you? After a pause there will be our observations.
Read each passage and:
- Identify how and why Jesus responded to the key person in the situation as he did.
- Compare Jesus’ response with how others in the story responded, or you would have expected them to respond, to the situation.
- What do you learn that helps you when dealing with other people and your own self-management?
The Samaritan Woman – John 4: 1-26
The Samaritan woman had two things going against her: First she was a Samaritan and Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans, second she was a serial adulteress. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan, crucial to the point was that Samaritans and Jews were overwhelmingly prejudiced against each other.
Ponder for a moment how the disciples responded. They marvelled at Jesus, admired him because he was talking to the woman. They would have probably gone with their cultural norm and would have had as little as possible to do with her. Jesus had been brought up in the Jewish culture and was fully aware of the situation but he chose to conform to a different culture, that of the Kingdom and live-out his servant character.
She was also a sinner but he was not repelled by that, as those who had brought to him the women taken in adultery would have been. He chose to respond to her as he would have responded to any other person.
The Anointing of Jesus – Luke 7:36-50
With others, Jesus had been invited to eat at the home of the Pharisee. While he was there a sinful woman, possibly a prostitute, came and anointed his feet and washed them with her tears.
The Pharisee was aghast that Jesus should have received this woman of sin. He certainly would have had nothing to do with her and presumably it was out of embarrassed politeness that he didn’t turn her out.
It’s interesting that it is self-righteous people who are intolerant of sin. Jesus, who as God, could justly have condemned sin, did not. He chose a different perspective and a different, gracious reaction to this woman. It’s not that Jesus did not get upset because of sin, his views about the Pharisees are plain, yet here, he chose not to denounce his host but to lovingly instruct him.
The Sisters of Lazarus – John 11:17-44
Jesus loved Lazarus who was ill but did not attend him until he died. His reason was that he knew that this illness would not lead to death but to God’s glory.
The sisters both knew that Jesus could have prevented the death of Lazarus had he come earlier. We might have been tempted to explain. But Jesus chose not to.
Jesus knew the outcome; that he would raise Lazarus from the dead, so why should he grieve and weep? He chose to do this because as a demonstration of his empathy, it showed his oneness with his friends in their grief.
Pharisees, Sadducees Scribes and Herodians – Mark 12:13-34
In this sequence of three incidents the Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees are seeking to trap Jesus. They pose him questions, trying to highlight their wisdom and his lack of it. He knows this: Mark says he knew of their hypocrisy, while in Matthew’s account we are told that Jesus was aware of their malice. They were out to get him.
If you knew someone was out get you how would you respond? Probably not very well. Jesus knows them; he has insight into their thinking (awareness of others) and deals with them directly but politely. (Who of us wouldn’t want to punch them on the nose? – Raise your hands!)
Then the third test; up comes the Scribe, who, according to Mark and Luke, is also a Pharisee. If it was me I would probably be getting ready to do damage by now. But Jesus chooses to listen and hear what the man has to say. The man turns out to be a wise and spiritual man, asking a wise and important question and his response to Jesus’ reply shows him to be close to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus received the three approaches, two were up to no good, he chose to be straightforward but not angry with the first two, and open and complimentary to the third. He dealt with each case individually and specifically, that meant he was able to receive the third approach for what it was, genuine, spiritual and wise. His response had not been tainted by the previous two incidents.
In all three cases they marvelled at Jesus’ wise responses and how he dealt with them. But he dealt with each differently.
- Take a Moment
If you were to follow Jesus’ example how would it change the way you respond to people?
Tips for Self-Management
The key to self-management is self-awareness. Being aware of what is going on inside when you face every-day as well as exceptional situations, like Jesus, enables you to choose your response. Your responses are your choice.
It is also driven by a desire to manage our emotions in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s famous declaration of his battles in Romans chapter 7 comes to mind again.
- Think back to Emotional Hijacking, when your amygdala takes over. Being aware that this can happen and noting that it is actually happening now, enables you to engage in the strategies we discussed.
- Knowing about the Ladder of Inference enables you to observe your reaction to situations and ask yourself new questions.
- Why are you selecting and interpreting the data in that way?
- Why did you fill out the story with those assumptions?
- Are your beliefs and worldview in this instance valid?
- Is your action therefore appropriate or should you behave in a different way?
- Using the JoHari Window and feedback strategies to develop your relationships towards the “Ideal” is also a self-management strategy. As you get to know yourself and the other person better it will modify your beliefs which are at work in the Ladder of Inference and in the amygdala hijack, and so you will develop the ability to behave differently.
- When you have an issue with someone, choosing to use the BOOST model to give them feedback, instead of responding thoughtlessly and angrily means that sit can have a positive, beneficial effect and develop the relationship.
- Reflection afterwards on what happened in an incident and why, enables you to prepare to behave differently next time.
- From the spiritual perspective, prayerful reflection on our behaviour enables us to listen to what God has to say to us about that situation and how we behaved. Of course, there is also always Nehemiah’s ‘arrow prayer’ “Help!” More generally, seeking to become mature in Christ, in line with Jesus’ example and Biblical teaching, will also pay dividends in the way we behave.
- Having integrity as a goal is also a good self-management strategy. Integrity is the combination of behaving honestly and morally alongside the alignment of your words and deeds. It means meaning what you say and doing what you say you will do. Being transparent about it is also important. This transparent integrity is the foundation of trust and is a basis for strong and effective relationships.
- In the Reflections on Leadership lesson we looked at six actions by which a leader could establish good or bad organisational cultures, keeping those in mind and choosing the best path will also enable you, as a leader, to manage your own responses and actions.
Dealing with Negative Thoughts
One crippling characteristic that we have all probably encountered at some time in our own lives is that of the impact of negative thoughts. Things that we believe about ourselves that prevent us from doing things that we are able to do. By recognising these negative thought processes we can choose to adopt a positive outlook, changing the way we think and how we behave.
The psychologists call this Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It’s simply about how our thoughts lead to our actions so by replacing negative thoughts for positive ones we can cause positive behaviour. It’s an approach used to help people who have a fear of flying for instance.
One of the most frequent fears that people have is of public speaking, so by way of example let’s consider that. The concerns and fears may go something like this:
- I will forget what I want to say and people will think I am stupid.
- If people think I am stupid they will not respect me.
- This will confirm what I feel about myself: that I am stupid and people do not respect me.
Note the underlying issue of a poor view of self. I am stupid and feel inferior. Few people who feel that are anything close to being stupid and have no need to feel inferior. This leads to a train of thought (recall the Ladder of Inference) which fills in the blanks.
The antidote is to address one’s thinking with a more realistic view – for example:
- If I forget what I want to say it’s not the end of the world – lots of people forget what they want to say at times. Think of all those TV news readers and reporters we see on the out-take shows.
- This can give me a chance to poke humour at myself and make my presentation entertaining.
- If I do forget my words people may find it amusing but they won’t think any less of me. I know they think highly of me and have commented on how much they enjoy listening to me.
As Christian’s of course we have the Holy Spirit’s assistance, provided we seek to have a right view of ourselves before God. One thing we must be careful of is not to dismiss sin in this way. God has a far better remedy: confession and cleansing: 1 John 1 8&9
Developing a sound relationship between a leader and those whom they lead is integral to the Growing the Servant Heart programme. It has already emerged in the material covered so far and will continue to emerge in the material still to come, as we look at leadership practices, team dynamics, communication skills, leading and managing change.
- Take a Moment: Review what you have discovered in this module (both parts 1 and 2)
- What are the key take home points for you?
- How does it integrate with the things you discovered in the previous module “The Jesus Model”?
- Prepare an action plan to apply your learnings to your daily leadership situation.