Easter Isn’t Over: A Season for Honing Leadership

Easter Isn’t Over: A Season for Honing Leadership

News flash: Easter isn’t over. In fact, for most Christians, it will continue through May 15 this year.

Generally, we just seem to assume that Easter is a single day – a Sunday that shows up sometime in the spring, never on the same date as the year before. It’s here. And then, poof, it’s gone.

Granted, it’s the most important day in in the Christian calendar because it’s the day Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, when He secured eternal life for all believers. But it’s just a day. (Have you noticed that the Easter Bunny also conforms to this assumption?)

Wait, stop the presses! It’s true that Easter Sunday is a day. But the Easter Season is not. In fact, it lasts for 50 days – all the way to Pentecost Sunday, which Christian churches in the West will observe on May 15 this year. (Eastern Christian churches use another calendar, so usually they observe Easter and Pentecost on different dates.)

Given the central importance of the event that underlies the Easter feast, celebrating Easter for more than just a day each year seems to make a lot of sense. That’s especially true for Christians who want to Lead Like Jesus because it was during that first Easter Season that the apostles came into their own as Jesus-like leaders.

Recall the scene at Jesus’ crucifixion and death. All but one of the apostles have fled, leaving Jesus to endure his suffering without them. Their leader, Peter, had denied even knowing Jesus – three times. What kind of a leadership team is this?

I often wonder if while on the cross Jesus didn’t silently beg his Father, “Abba, things are a mess down here. If you want my work to have any lasting value, give me another year – maybe two – to try to get these apostles back on board. I’ve spent three years grooming them for the work, but to no apparent effect. No way can they take over my ministry in the shape they’re in now. Please, I need more time.”

Recall, we can’t even give the apostles credit for claiming His body and placing it in a tomb after He died. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the women who were devoted to Jesus and went to His tomb to anoint His body after the Sabbath, there’s no telling when the apostles would have learned of Jesus’ resurrection.

A Leadership Season

As we know, Jesus did get more time to hone His apostles’ leadership aptitudes – but only after His resurrection. In fact, it was between His resurrection and His ascension into heaven 40 days later that He was somehow able to get the apostles back on board – mostly.

Recall that He also promised to send His Spirit (John 14:15-17, Acts 1:8), and in this way He would be with them forever. Only after the Spirit is made manifest as tongues of fire do the apostles enthusiastically take to the streets to proclaim their Lord and Savior – and to call others to conversion, no matter what language they spoke. (Acts 2:1-13)

A Rich Harvest

It’s clear from the Gospels that after Jesus rises from the dead, He continues to teach the apostles as He had before His passion and death. And by the time He ascends into heaven 40 days later, He is confident entrusting his mission to them. (Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:1-10)

Ten days later on Pentecost, after the Spirit descends on them, their leader Peter is so confident that his preaching brings three thousand people to baptism. (Acts 2:14-40)

Their course had finally been set. The apostles were so committed and confident that, according to tradition, all but one of the faithful 11, in company with latecomer Mathias, died as martyrs. The other, John, brother of James, devoted the rest of his life in service to Jesus’ Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19).

As we begin the Easter Season, it would be good for us to keep in mind how Jesus’ apostles were dramatically transformed as leaders by Jesus’ instruction, prayer and the Spirit during that very first Easter season. Following the example of His apostles, there’s no better time for us to focus on our own prayer lives and growth as Jesus-like leaders.

Through Jesus the disciples were transformed as leaders that first Easter season.

Why not celebrate all 50 days of the Easter Season by focusing on adopting more fully the habits of a Jesus-like leader and by scheduling a brief daily period of prayer and study to help us keep growing as Jesus-like leaders?

Lord knows the world needs more of them.

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Owen Phelps

Dr. Owen Phelps is Director of the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute and author of the book, The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus: Introducing S3 Leadership — Servant, Steward, and Shepherd. He has presented Lead Like Jesus Encounters in Canada, Uganda and India, as well as all across the U.S.

 

He formerly served on the faculty of the College of Business & Management at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, and was a consultant on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Communications Committee for about a decade. He has served as a consultant to church organizations from Vermont to Texas. 

 

Dr. Phelps was an award-winning writer, columnist, editor and publisher with a multi-state publishing company before he began work in ministry. He has written several articles and contributed chapters to two books devoted to issues of faith-based organizational performance.

 

He and his wife Jane, a CPA, have been married for 49 years. They live in Durand, Illinois, and Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, and they have five grown children and 17 growing grandchildren.