6 Steps to Building A Team (Like Jesus Did)

This week I was revising some notes on how to build and lead effective teams for a course I am teaching. One of the additions I made to the teaching was to look at how Jesus built his team: the disciples.

I thought this would be a great example of all of the concepts that I was teaching in class, such as selecting team members with loyalty, drive, wisdom, and influence.

I was wrong.

Want to build a team like Jesus Christ did? Then break all of the rules. Go against conventional wisdom, and don’t listen to any of the leadership gurus and best-selling authors. To create a team like Jesus did, here are your six easy steps:

Jesus and His DisciplesPhoto credit:Tim Jones

1. Select unknowns for your team, with questionable abilities, differing belief systems, little to no education, and widely varying backgrounds.

The disciples? They were a bunch of young, inexperienced, uneducated dudes who were very different from each other.

Some of the disciples didn’t even rate a description in the Bible… remember Nathaniel? He was “a man of no guile” and Philip’s friend. That’s it.

James, son of Alphaeus? Nada. Yet these guys were in Jesus’ inner circle.

2. Live with them. Not only teach, but model.

Christ slept, ate, and traveled with his team. He was a teacher, but they got to watch him in every situation he faced: At parties, alone, frustrated, worshiping, angry, teaching, in huge groups, or with children on his lap. There was no off time for Jesus, he taught by both words AND actions.

Jesus couldn’t be aloof or disconnected. He had a relationship with each of them, knew their family situations, knew what made them tick and found out what they needed for their personal enrichment.

3. Tell stories. Speak in riddles that confuse your followers but that they will understand 2-5 years from now.

That’s right… most of the time, the disciples had no idea what Jesus was talking about. Maybe we should be just as cryptic with our followers.

4. Give them an impossible task. Make it global and filled with danger and unknown frontiers.

Go to the ends of the earth. “Oh, really? Sure, sign me up.” (At least that’s what the cynical side of me thinks how the disciples might have responded.)

But here’s the thing: They accepted that task. They went. To the extremes of the known world–India, Europe, Ethiopia, the Caucasus. And they brought the gospel to thousands.

5. Understand going in that there will be varying levels of success, failure, and some may even betray you.

This is the one that is really an eye-opener. As the leader of a non-profit organization with the goal of training, discipling, and sending people out, I see this every day. I have to realize that there will be varying levels of success, and even some failure. But that’s okay.

6. Change the world.

Sounds easy, right? Well, I know I would have a problem making a team under these guidelines. But Jesus made it work. In some ways, it’s how we already do it at the G42 Leadership Academy.

What would you add to this list? In what ways did Christ go against conventional wisdom?