I’m always looking for ways that remarkable leaders lead, especially when they are surprising, or different from how I think things should be done. In John 4, we read about a woman who had minimal resources and yet made a monumental impact on her community, and the way she went about this was unique and profound and totally applicable to how we choose to go about our own things today!
The Samaritan Woman in John 4 runs into Jesus at a well in the middle of the day at a well, where she’s been ostracized from all the other women in the town because of her own shameful sexual history. Here, she has a conversation with Jesus that radically changes her life and we see her live out three noteworthy characteristics of leadership that we just can’t afford to miss out on:
1. She had a brutally honest conversation with Jesus.
This unnamed woman has a significant heart-to-heart with Jesus in John 4:7-26. They talk about all kinds of things, but you can be sure that the part she remembers most is how Jesus saw right through her facade and spoke truth about who she was and what she’d been doing.
How often are we having these kinds of honest conversations with Jesus, ourselves?
2. She led from her own brokenness.
When she goes back to the town she’s been “kicked out of” socially, she doesn’t pretend to be someone she’s not. Instead, she actually calls attention to her sins and the things that Jesus called out in her story, and uses her own honesty about those things to draw people in. The story says that she left her water jar and returned to the town, saying, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29)
How often do we call attention to our weaknesses and shortcomings, rather than our successes?
3. She extends an invitation for people to shift their focus from her to Jesus.
When she goes back to town to proclaim this good news, she doesn’t give theological speeches about all the things that Jesus said or did. She simply invites people to “come and see” and she fully trusts that their own encounters with Jesus will be enough.
How often do we complicate the message, or make excuses for it, rather than simply inviting people to “come and see”?
The distinct impact that this woman has on her community is written about there in the chapter, where it says, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony... And many more believed because of his word...They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42) Because of how she shared, people first knew Jesus from her testimony, but then they went and heard for themselves, and believed! This is our goal, to introduce people to Jesus, and to let Him do His work.
This woman has significantly impacted my life and my leadership with the way she responded to Jesus. Specifically, her invitation to others to just “come and see” who Jesus is has encouraged me to stop trying too hard to control things, and instead to trust that Jesus is enough. Her “leadership style” started and ended with Jesus, every time. My prayer for us now is to live into this authentic encounter with Jesus, for us to lead with humility in our own brokenness, and for us to have the confidence and clarity to simply invite people to come and see what Jesus has for them.