This year in Iron Leadership we are focused on Jesus’ leadership. We are trying to learn from the best leader that ever stepped foot on our planet. Sometimes Jesus teaches his disciples things directly; sometimes he puts his disciples through a test. Other leadership traits are intended to be learned more through observation. Things are best learned when they are Caught not Taught. The character trait we are zooming on today, gentleness, was both caught and taught.

In Matthew 11:27-29 we read “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” Jesus is saying that no one is more powerful & no one wiser – All things rest in his hands. WOW! “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden.” Jesus’ call to follow him. He is the leader; he is the one person you should be learning from on how to live & lead. But what kind of leader is Jesus going to be with all this Power and Wisdom? He says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

“Gentle” is defined as Power under Control. Jesus uses all of his power and wisdom to heal and to help, not harm.

Max Dupree says “Bad leaders inflict pain, good leaders bear it.” Jesus uses his power to bear the heavy burdens of others. He does so in a gentle way. He uses his position, power and wisdom to heal and to help, not to harm. I was hiking a few years back in the Grand Canyon and on our way down we encountered some Female hikers. Their first question to us was “How much farther?” To which we told them they were about half way there.  When you come along people, the way you deal with them brings
relief or an added burden. When you meet Jesus, burdens come off! Think about this.  When you walk into your home, your business, or your church: people think of their burdens that come off, relief, help. Or do they think of burdens that come on, pain.

Rest. What a great picture here. Weary and heavy laden people find rest. Here is Jesus’ Picture of Leadership: People sit down on Jesus; he is the comfortable chair you have been looking for. This means Jesus uses his position, power and wisdom to get underneath people, not to get over people. Under not Over. Under not Over.

Under not Over. This is Jesus’ leadership model. If you are going to lead like Jesus then people will use you as a chair. They sit on you and find rest and restoration. They find help not harm and their burdens come off.

Is that the picture you have in your mind about leadership? It’s important to identify what picture you have of leadership you have in your mind, because you are going to live into that picture.

This kind of Gentle Servant leadership was taught and caught by disciples as they watched Jesus lead.

John 4 – Woman at the Well

Jesus sends the disciples away. There was no need to embarrass her in front of other men. It is worth noting that she is also a Samaritan, who were enemies of the Jews in this day. Jesus also knows the conversation won’t go the same way in a group. He gently sets up the possibility for successful conversation by asking her for a drink of water.
They have a kind of wandering conversation and then Jesus touches the bruise in vs. 17. She recoils and changes the subject and Jesus goes along, gently. It is funny here that she changes to subject because Jesus hit a bruise she doesn’t want to engage in; so she changes the subject to something really confusing, thinking she can get out of the conversation. She chooses Religion. Ha! Right in Jesus’ wheelhouse!
Then Jesus tell her who he is in vs. 26. He tells her he is the Messiah.
Her response is positive because she goes back to her town excited to tell others about her encounter with Jesus. She makes a truly remarkable statement in vs. 29. “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” Wait a minute. Is anyone interested in meeting someone who will say out loud everything you ever did? Not me.  Unless, this person with all this power is also gentle with the most bruised people. In Jesus, she found rest for her soul. Jesus and his disciples spent 2 days watching Jesus care for this woman and the Samaritans.

John 21 – Peter’s Restoration

Who knows what might have been going through Peter’s mind after his denial of Jesus three times at a critical moment? Most likely, he thought he was a candle that blew itself out. The leader who bragged about his bravery ends up denying Jesus three times. He is a candle without a flame.
But then, Jesus comes to Peter. Three times Jesus says “Do you love me – Feed my Sheep.” Jesus comes to Restore not to Rebuke. Three times Jesus is breathing life back into Peter. He is saying to him “Peter, Keep your eyes on me and I still have work for you to accomplish.” Jesus is gently relighting this smoldering wick.

These actions with the bruised woman and the burned out candle perfectly match up with how Jesus is described in Matthew 12:20. “A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not quench.” When Jesus exercises leadership toward the bruised and burned out, he does so gently; to Heal not to Harm.

We shouldn’t be surprised to see the importance of the character trait of gentleness spilling into the rest of the New Testament writings.

Galatians 5- Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness,
Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

2 Timothy 2: 24- “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but
kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his
opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance…”

Galatians 6:1- “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you
who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness”

Three Primary Places to Practice Gentleness

Tongue and Tone:

Tongue – James 3: “We put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies – Look at the ships also: though they are so large…they are guided by a very small rudder. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire…it can stain the whole body…and set on fire the entire course of a life.

Tone – Proverbs 15: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh
word stirs up anger…… A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” I know you’ve heard this before but it is so true. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.


Colossians 3:19 – “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh
with them.” Harsh in the Greek means Bitter. You wince when you taste something bitter. Does your wife wince when you walk in the house? Or, are you gentle?


Ephesians 6: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is a greater tendency for fathers rather than mothers. Consider how you want the Lord to discipline you (with Gentleness) then you use the same approach for your children.


  1. Under not Over – this is Jesus’ leadership model. If you are going to lead like Jesus then people use you as a chair…they sit on you and find rest & restoration – they find help not harm – burdens come off. Does this relate to your leadership style? How can you improve?
  2. When dealing with bruised or burned out people – what do you do to help heal them or reignite them?
  3. Tongue and Tone, Wife and Children: Discuss how gentleness can help you in these areas of leadership.


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church

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