A Prayerful Leader-John 17

October 28, 2008

The passage John 17, or more commonly called “The High Priestly Prayer”, is most likely one of my favorite passages for so many reasons. While listening to a sermon on my way into work, I began to respect and admire this passage for even another reason-Christ’s example of a Prayerful Leader. Let’s look at the passage together!

John 17

The passage is divided into three sections: The High Priestly Prayer, The Disciples in the World, and Their Future Glory. This is such a wonderful example of how leaders of any capacity should pray for their team members. Let us not forget this prayer was being offered up to heaven in the hours right before the despicable death our Savior was chosen to willingly suffer. While all of these thoughts of the pain and suffering he was to endure most likely raced through His head, he took time to spend two of the topics on those who followed him. How about that as a leadership model for us?

The Disciples in the World

Jesus first reminds the Father how he has given the needed instruction to the disciples and how because of this Word given to them, the world has turned on them. Christ, being the insightful leader he was, knew how troublesome this rejection and pain would be for his disciples in the coming years. He had the opportunistic vantage point to see the trials and tribulations that lay not only in the immediate future, but also in the years to follow as they were instructed to “go forth and spread the Good News.” It was because of this, Jesus gave us the Leadership Rule of Praying for Protection.

As a leader, a father, or husband, we are charged to pray for protection for those we support. We are not only to pray for their physical protection, which usually comes easily, but to pray against the evil one who seeks to destroy them. If we are leading ministry teams and have ministry/Gospel experience, we can pray as Jesus did for those members of our ministry team for we know all too well the daily struggles and tribulations they will be facing as a result of bringing the Gospel to a fallen world. As a pastor, you should know all too well the constant torment of temptation and pain in store for those who decide to join your evangelistic efforts. These examples are all ordinary, daily examples of following Christ’s Leadership Rule of Praying for Protection.

Another leadership rule outlined in this particular part of the chapter is the Leadership Rule of Self-Sacrifice. Look at verse 19, “For their sakes, I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” Notice the underlined portion. It was for his disciples’, as well as our, sakes that Christ chose to sacrifice himself. As a leader, it is a natural, understood rule that with the office there will be the need for self-sacrifice. If things are not completed, the duty usually falls to us. If there is a difficult task needing special attention, it usually falls to us. All of these items usually come at great cost not only to our free time, but our ideal that one day we would be able to think/focus on something of interest to us. To follow Christ’s example, we need to embrace the Leadership Rule of Self Sacrifice, and sacrifice for those we lead. Although this is one of Christ’s ideals, let’s remember that even the Savior took time for himself to reenergize in prayer.

The last topic I would like to cover relating to these verses is the Leadership Rule of Succession as described in verse 20. Jesus was not only praying for his disciples to have success to glorify both Christ and the Father, but moreover, Christ wanted to pray for their success to keep the message of his eternal love going generations beyond his disciples. The Leadership Rule of Succession is one often missed by those in leadership; however, to follow the lead of Christ, we are to set forth succession planning so that our work through Christ is not ending when we end. Jesus spent three years with his disciples, training them for the days ahead. Jesus had completed his earthly task in training the disciples, now he turned to prayer to sustain their efforts in the coming years. As leaders, we are to not only pray for continued success of our team and the mission we have been given, but we are also to spend some time training up and coming leaders to eventually take our place. How many times have you personally seen ministries, churches, or businesses built around a central figure? When the figure does well, the company/organization does well, growing and prospering for all to see. What happens if the central leader becomes ill, or worse, what happens if they pass on? Personally, I have seen too many times, the disparaging effects of a lack of planning. We are to consistently employ the Leadership Rule of Succession and devise ways and programs to train leaders in our midst to eventually take on greater roles. Christ did, and so should we.

Their Future Glory

Verse 22 is most likely my favorite verse in the passage, maybe even the Bible. Christ, in his final moments praying that we would be as close to the Father as he was. Wow… that deserves its own blog.


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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.


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