The essence of leadership can be understood by a primitive concept God made called fractions.
Fractions have three parts , an upper number which depicts the total available, the numerator (N), and a lower number which determines the total needed to function, the denominator (D), and both separated by a line—N/D. Each part has its assigned purpose. From this simple interplay true principles, the kind Jesus modeled, for leaders and all subjects of His kingdom are demonstrated.
Lesson #1 The line makes a distinction.
Luke 16:26 …between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
For effective leadership we must understand the purpose of the line. Though it has no substance in itself, it provides a crossover point, distinguishing between “here and there”, “then and now”, “in and out”, “before and after”, “rich and poor.” What is and what happens on one side of the line is different than what is and what happens on the other side, even if the numbers are identical.
Let’s say 50/50 represents a then-and-now monthly income. Though the numbers appear the same, in function they are not. Would you consider being treated fairly if your employer said this on payday?
“Many years ago my grandfather’s monthly paycheck was $50. That was a lot of money back then. It made a house and car payment, bought groceries, supplied the family with new clothes, and even had some left over to save toward a vacation. So this month I decided to pay everybody $50—exactly what my grandfather received.”
N and D have different functions. As soon as the line is crossed the value of the number is treated differently. In Salvation the line is Calvary, which makes distinct what happens in the life without a Saviour and with. Even if life doesn’t appear to change, it does. Conversion changes how the same challenges are met, how the same income is treated, how the same efforts are rewarded. Without Calvary, without the line, there would be no difference, no fraction.
What about Gal 3:28? Doesn’t Paul say that the Gospel does away with certain distinctions?
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
In the fraction model, the text refers to the line, not the N or D positions. Only at the Cross are all equal since no one has any advantage when it comes to the grace and mercy of God. But once Conversion enters the life all “equalities” end. If the Gospel indeed removed these differences Paul would be denying a truth about class discrimination Jesus gave toward the end of His ministry. And if Paul were wrong here his counsel would be untrustworthy on the other two.
Mark 14:7 For ye have the poor [distressed] with you ALWAYS, and whensoever ye will ye [the advantaged] may do them good: but me ye have not always.
In every other aspect of life equality means no need of the other. If you and I were comfortable with an equal amount of wealth, then why would I dare ask you for a handout, and why would you even consider giving me one? Sameness not only equalizes the playing field but also neutralizes interdependence.
Rev 3:15-16 I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, [and have need of nothing,] I will spue thee out of my mouth.
No, there is no equality in effective leadership. The crossover line makes sure of that. And we will see why this is necessary as we progress through the other three lessons.
Lesson #2 Humility takes the lower (D) position.
Luke 14:10 GW When you’re invited, take the place of least honor. Then, when your host comes, he will tell you, ‘Friend, move to a more honorable place.’ Then all the other guests will see how you are honored. (11) Those who honor themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be honored.”
Jesus took the lower position when He came down to serve and save us. Humility is no barrier to love! Though humility is a position of meekness and concealment, it is also the position for authority and support, like the roots of tall trees or foundations of skyscrapers. Rarely do we give thought to these mighty structures underground. But that’s just part of their lot.
Good, effective leaders are like those underground channels of blessing: doing their powerful work out of the public view. Effective leadership is to be judged by the fruit produced, not by the leader. Judging by the leader sets him or her up for selfish boasting, which is the cancer of leaders. Pride takes root quietly when the guard is down and stealthily gains strength under cover. But it cannot survive in the presence of humility.
The Ten Commandments are the pattern for all character, the guide for all behavior, and the standard in the final Judgment. So did God hang them at the entrance into the courtyard for all to see? Did He have them written in bold strokes on the brazened altar of sacrifice? No, no. God instructed that they be enclosed in the golden ark, which was put in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle, a place where only one man was allowed to enter, and then only once a year. Whatever occupies the D position is to do his or her work in humility and meekness, and sometimes obscurity.
That which is appointed to lead, to support, must be willing to be transparent.
Lesson #3 The servant, the upper (N) number, should glorify the leader.
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The light is to be on top of things, not hidden under something like the roots are. In fractions the subjects of the kingdom occupy the N position, the upper (center stage) number, the recipients of God’s goodness. It is God’s joy to give, but He can give most to those who love and obey Him, for He knows they will not use the gifts to hurt themselves or others.
As subjects of God’s grace and gifts, it is left to us to glorify the Giver. This is true at any level of leadership, and is encapsulated in the 5th commandment (to honor our parents – Ex 20:12). One of the best ways to bring honor to parents, teachers, employers, or government officials is to use the gifts or teachings or privileges in harmony with heaven’s purposes, to bless others.
Pride is not exempt at this level either, but it is more common to express itself in self-centeredness, where we think God’s gifts are our rights. Praise and thanksgiving steel us against such foolishness and make fruitfulness and abundance possible.
Contrary to Hollywood, the purpose of the theater, the stage, is to proclaim the story, not exalt the actors.
Lesson #4 The fruit of true leadership is prosperity.
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Worldly minds claim the glory (visible) position is the leadership position, and the subjects of the kingdom, the ones who do all the grunt work to make the kingdom thrive, are to be minimized, put under, paid the lesser amount, and trampled upon.
But in God’s kingdom, it is just the opposite. The only way to get into true prosperity (a value greater than 1.0) the numerator must be greater than the denominator. Jesus understood this, but His disciples didn’t. Near the end of their training, when their leader was about to be crucified and separated from them, some were still vying for the highest positions as future leaders (Mark 10:35-37). Though aware of His divinity, Jesus still took a servant’s role to wash the disciples’ feet.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Why must the result be greater than 1.0? In leadership language faithful stewardship always results in an increase, and profit is expressed by a number greater than 1.0. Remember the one steward who hid his talent in the earth and returned it intact when his master returned (Matthew 25:24-30)? Though the steward was careful to give back the whole portion, without any loss, he was considered an “unprofitable servant” and destined to be cast into “outer darkness” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Fractions explain it this way:
If we have two unequal numbers (like 3 and 4) and place them in the fraction, D determines whether the result will be greater or lesser than 1 (3/4 = .75) (4/3 = 1.33). Christ taught that in heaven’s economy true leadership always takes the lesser amount so profit to the whole kingdom can be achieved.
Prosperity is the condition one is in when supply exceeds need. God is pleased to bless us beyond our need so we can be channels of blessing to others. However, there is more to prosperity than just an abundant supply.
The truly prosperous person must also have unrestricted access to that supply. A person can be a millionaire but not be able to buy groceries or fill up the car with gas. How can this be? Because he bought a million dollar house and can’t sell it. In fact, if there is no other income, the taxes and upkeep could quickly reduce the “millionaire” to beggary. His riches are not available.
One of the best ways to insure fluidity and accessibility is to learn to live BELOW your means , not WITHIN it. That is determined by the Decision-maker (the number in the D position). If N represents the funds “Not yet committed” and D the “purchasing Decision”, then D should always be smaller than N to insure a profit or savings.
Say you need a new suit and you have $400 left in your Clothing budget. You find a very nice one for $600 with a 6-month interest free offer if you buy it on credit. You don’t want to spend more than you have so you continue shopping and find another suit to your liking for exactly $400. This one you can afford but it would completely empty your clothing allowance for the month, so you decide to check out a consignment shop that sells used clothing. There you find a $1200 suit in excellent condition for only $200, and it fits perfectly. The D factor (Decision-maker) opts for the “used” suit, leaving a savings of $200 in the clothing budget.
To be a good steward and to insure results are always on the profit side, a humble spirit is indispensable.
The best example of true leadership, the kind Jesus modeled, are whole numbers. Whole numbers, like 2, 57, 9354, are actually fractions (2/1, 57/1, 9354/1), but since the denominator is 1, and “1” has no effect on the numerator, it is not shown. In this case D assumes the lowest number possible, becomes invisible, and insures the greatest profit (100%). Only in Christ (or His true disciples) can we see such humility, meekness, and strength of character.
If God calls us to be a leader, it is then our duty to minimize our position and maximize the gifts entrusted to those above us, making sure they understand the “show” is not about them or us, but about God’s goodness. If we, the leaders, and they, the recipients of God’s Spirit, are all faithful to His trust in us, there will be spiritual, mental, and physical profit.