The Generic "Jesus as a role model"
One of the most stunning chapters of Tamara Hartzell's online book In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth at the Altar of Unity is Chapter 20: “One Divine Life,” Many ‘Little Christs’.
In this chapter she sheds considerable light on the currently popular usage of "Jesus Christ" as a role model for leadership in Rick Warren's massive Global P.E.A.C.E. campaign. There are some very disquieting aspects to this "role model" approach to leadership training, not the least of which are its parallels to New Age thought.
Herescope has its own insight pertaining to this "model" approach, but first it is important to lay the groundwork. Excerpting from Chapter 20:
…[T]this subtle switch from the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the ‘modelship’ of Christ deceptively exchanges the truth of Who He is and what He did for the principles that He lived. Thus the Gospel of faith is effectively transformed into a false gospel of works, and the Lord Jesus Christ is replaced with the universal “Christ” or “Jesus” of the counterfeit kingdom:
“Christ, in His high place, cares not whether men accept the theological interpretations of scholars and churchmen, but He does care whether the keynote of His life of sacrifice and service is reproduced among men; it is immaterial to Him whether the emphasis laid upon the detail and the veracity of the Gospel story is recognized and accepted, for He is more interested that the search for truth and for subjective spiritual experience should persist; He knows that within each human heart is found that which responds instinctively to God, and that the hope of ultimate glory lies hid in the Christ-consciousness.
“Therefore, in the new world order, spirituality will supersede theology; living experience will take the place of theological acceptances.” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Emphasis added)1
“We have fought over the doctrines whereby men shall be saved.… We have regarded half the world as lost and only the Christian believer as saved, yet all the time Christ has told us that love is the way into the kingdom, and that the fact of the presence of divinity in each of us makes us eligible for that kingdom.… Men are not saved by belief in the formulation of a theological dogma, but by the fact of His living Presence, of the living immediate Christ.… That which will eventually reorganize our human life is the presence in the world of those who know Christ as their example, and recognize that they possess the same divine life, just as the affirmation of the basic law of the kingdom of God, the Law of Love, will finally save the world.” —Alice Bailey (Bold added)2
“Our task in life is to express divinity. And that divinity manifests itself in the same way that the divinity of Christ expressed itself; in harmless living and ceaseless service to our fellow men … in the sharing with Christ of the urgency which he felt to meet the world’s need and to act the part of a savior to men.” —Alice Bailey (Emphasis added)3
“The work of pouring out the principle of love (which is the Christ principle) and of lifting the masses in their consciousness to the pitch where they can understand and welcome that love-principle is the main work of the new age, and it will inaugurate the age of brotherhood and mould humanity into the likeness of the Christ. That the oriental peoples may call this great Official by another name than that of ‘The Christ’ has no bearing on reality and alters not the fact of His influence and His esoteric coming.” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Parentheses in the original; emphasis added)4
“… the goal for thousands everywhere is the demonstration of the Christ spirit, and the exemplification of a life conditioned by love and modeled upon that of Christ …
“This makes possible, therefore, the next great human unfoldment which grows out of the Christ consciousness …” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Emphasis added)5
“A Leadership Model That Can Transform Your Life”
The new message which replaces Lord with “model” has given today’s movements new impetus. It is much easier to get the masses to follow the example of a “model” than it is to get them to bend the knee to the Lord. And these principles of “love and service” transcend religious beliefs and facilitate interfaith unity, whereas the truth does not.
As discussed earlier, according to the Purpose-Driven Paradigm Jesus “modeled a purpose-driven life”6 and “modeled the kingdom of God”—a.k.a. “the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.”7 Both of these are inclusive of other religions.
The Lead Like Jesus Movement is another inclusive, popular movement. According to this Movement, Jesus “modeled implementing servant leadership with everyone He met,”8 providing “a leadership model” which those in any religion or culture can follow.
The co-founders of this movement, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, released their new book, Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time, in January 2006. The first page of this book contains an endorsement by Rick Warren that links this Movement with the “E” of his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, which aims to fight the giant of ego-centric leadership:
“One of our world’s great problems is ego-centric, self-serving leadership—leaders who think people exist for their benefit, instead of vice versa. In stark contrast, Jesus modeled servant leadership, leading by example. He said, ‘I came to serve, not to be served.’ Now, two thousand years later, Jesus has over 2.1 billion followers, which makes Him the undisputed greatest leader of all time. No one else comes close! This is why you need to know how to lead like Jesus. He is the only flawless example. That’s why you should read this book!” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)9
First, Jesus Christ is the Almighty Lord even if no one on earth was following Him. In the name of purpose, the belittling of the uniqueness and preeminence of Who the eternal Lord actually is continues. Second, Rick Warren had announced the relationship between his P.E.A.C.E. Plan and Ken Blanchard and his Lead Like Jesus Movement at a Saddleback Church service on November 2, 2003:
“The Bible tells us in Hebrews 2 that God made Jesus a perfect leader. That means we all need to learn to lead like Jesus because there is a leadership shortage in the world. That’s why on November 20, on a Thursday, in a couple weeks, Ken Blanchard and I are gonna teach a national, nationwide, simulcast called, ‘Learning to Lead Like Jesus.’ We’ll be broadcasting it from Birmingham … and I’m hoping you’ll be able to take the day off and come for a full day of leadership training.… Now Ken has signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he is going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)10
At the November 20, 2003 Lead Like Jesus simulcast announced here, in referring to Blanchard Rick Warren again stated:
“[T]here is a dramatic shortage of servant leadership in the world.…
“So, we’ve come up with a little plan called the peace plan. You and I are working together on this.… It is my goal and vision and your goal and vision to be used of God to raise up millions and millions of local churches and businesses and everybody else to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. That can only be done when we get the right model of leadership.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)11
Since this P.E.A.C.E. Plan consists of an interfaith network of “men of peace” and “local churches,” their “right model of leadership” enables all barriers to be transcended in their equipping of “all leaders” of all “aspirations” to follow this “model.” The message has definitely changed -- they are presenting Jesus as a “style” that transcends culture and religion!:
“Number two – this one surprises people but it is the source of all of our other problems – egocentric leadership. That is the second global giant: self-centered, self-serving, instead of leadership like Jesus …
“‘E’ is ‘Equip leaders.’ And we’re equipping leaders in a way that is culturally relevant—not Western-style leadership but Jesus-style leadership.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)12
“Today’s leadership crisis transcends cultures, religions and vocations. Jesus’ servant-leader style provides a perfect role model for all leaders. Lead Like Jesus exist [sic] to help leaders of all shapes, ages, and aspirations explore and express the leadership principles that Jesus lived.” —Lead Like Jesus website (Emphasis added)13
“Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges … have developed a unique interactive program to help leaders find new fulfillment and effectiveness in following leadership behaviors as modeled by Jesus.… A two-day transformational encounter with Jesus as a role model … Leadership Encounter will challenge people of faith and anyone else searching for a relevant and effective model for their own day-to-day leadership, to look at Jesus in a new and life changing way.” —Lead Like Jesus website (Emphasis added)14
“Where can you find a LEADERSHIP MODEL that can TRANSFORM your LIFE?…
“Since today is a day that will never come again, why not start today with the best leader—Jesus! It is the journey of a lifetime and it’s for you—whether you are a CEO or a parent, a teacher or a Scout leader, a pastor or an electrician, leading like Jesus is for you! Choose Jesus today as your role model!” —Lead Like Jesus, back cover (Bold added)15
The idea of teaching, coaching, educating or training by using a role model is one that originates from the social scientists who have worked on this process of changing people's beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors over the past several generations. This can be an extremely sophisticated process which may look quite simple on the surface. Perhaps the best description of the role model approach, which is -- significantly -- quite popular in the business guru world, is variations of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). For instance:
Modelling of dead or famous people from what is known of them, such as Jesus Christ or Nelson Mandela. (That is to say, identifying subjectively what the experience of being these people might be like, and proposing detailed suggestions of the internal ways of thinking, based upon observed evidence, which enable them to be as they are/were) … [emphasis in original]
NLP has been described as:
Its approach and philosophy have also been described as closer to a technology than a science, and it is often identified as being similar to engineering; in that it tries to answer "what works?" rather than "what is true?". Ultimately, its ideal end products are systematized models and usable approaches, rather than beliefs or facts.
The original developers claimed not to be interested in theory, and NLP teaches a practitioner to focus on "what works". However, this in no way prevents practitioners from creating and promoting their own theories behind NLP, and some have done this, basing theories upon a synthesis of core observable NLP combined with other personal, new age, psychological, and/or neurological concepts. Some trainers teach these theories as part of NLP. [emphases added]Much of NLP has been dismissed by academic researchers as wild-eyed kooky New Age nonsense. However, there are many areas where it has mainstreamed itself. One management guru/trainer particularly mentioned in this regard is Anthony Robbins. Significantly, there is a common denominator between Tony Robbins and Rick Warren -- Ken Blanchard, the business guru who is cited above in the excerpt from In the Name of Purpose as Rick Warren's sidekick in the "Equip" leadership training operation of the Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
Warren Smith mentions this same Anthony Robbins in his newly updated Reinventing Jesus Christ, now posted online. In the Chapter 10 Update, Smith delves into the Blanchard connection to Rick Warren and, observing this from his particular vantage point as an ex-New Ager, expresses deep concern about Blanchard's ongoing associations with New Age business gurus. One guru mentioned in particular is Anthony Robbins. Smith wrote:
Although Blanchard has been presented as naïve by many of his defenders – including Rick Warren – a closer examination of Blanchard’s past reveals a much different story. … Christian Research Service has carefully documented Ken Blanchard’s continued New Age sympathies. A year after Blanchard’s “apology” for his New Age endorsements, he still hasn’t formally renounced the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality, nor has he apparently made any attempt to pull his endorsements from the New Age books that he recommended. Blanchard’s New Age endorsements can still be found on New Age websites like those of Tony Robbins and the Hoffman Quadrinity Process. (96 ) Thus, Blanchard’s continuing evangelical leadership role in training and equipping people to “Lead Like Jesus” is symptomatic of a church that has truly lost its bearings.
Rick Warren’s endorsement of Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus book, and his position on Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus Board of Directors, is yet one more of the many New Age implications of Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Church and Purpose-Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
It is trivial and foolhardy to liken our global business-leadership endeavors to being "like Jesus." It demeans the Lord and raises the human ego to divine heights. Likening Jesus as a "model," particularly in the manner described above, is precariously close to creating an idol out of a "Jesus" type or figure.
The Bible tells us who the real Jesus is:
"For He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21)