How to Train Others: Five Lessons From Jesus

Jesus' teaching

Whether you hire workers for your own business, train co-workers within the context of your current position, or equip others for ministry in your church, you should consider the following lessons from the Master trainer:

1. Be real during the interview process.

If you are salivating over a prospective employee, don’t succumb to the temptation of sugar coating the job.  When a teacher of religious law asked Jesus if he could follow him, Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to even lay his head.”  (Matthew 8:20)  If you don’t share realistic job expectations BEFORE hiring, you can expect a disillusioned employee.  However, if this prospect still wants to come on board after knowing the downsides of the job, he will stay committed to your company during the good times and the not-so-good times.

2. Be a leader, not a boss.

Employees will repeat what they see you doing – not what they hear you advising.  If you expect your subordinates to be punctual, don’t show up late yourself.  If you want them to be innovative, you need to be constantly tweaking protocol.  Once Jesus called his disciples to follow him, he demonstrated his expectations of them by placing his calling ahead of his personal comforts, loving the unlovely, standing up to hypocritical big shots and eventually give his life for his cause.  The difference between being a leader and being a boss is living out the values you expect from your subordinates.  Jesus was a leader.  You should be too.

3. Select an inner circle.

When employees shows great promise, you should develop their potential by investing yourself in their lives.  Don’t worry about “playing favorites”; do what Jesus did … he devoted special time with Peter, James and John because of the demanding leadership responsibilities which would one day be required of them.   Jesus included this “inner circle” in:

  • The Mount of Transfiguration experience.  (Mark 9:2-8) Jesus was showing them that their leader was greater than Moses (the law giver) and Elijah (the greatest prophet); he was God’s dearly loved son.  You can give your potential leaders something to aspire to by allowing them to see you handle difficult sales calls, respond to dicey challenges from upper management, or comfort a subordinate who just learned her husband has cancer.
  • The Garden of Gethsemane experience. (Mark 14: 33-41)  When Jesus’ greatest trial was imminent, he wanted these three with him while he prayed.  Yes, he was demonstrating to them that prayer–during life’s most difficult moments–is the best course of action.  But this time of travail was more than an object lesson; Jesus wanted his inner circle with him as he struggled.  Great leaders, during the worst of times, do not avoid the situation or put on a false front; they face reality with full commitment to deal with it.  When things go wrong with your business, you are doing your inner circle a great service by inviting them to share the struggle as you handle it with integrity.

4. Share the big picture vision.

Jesus continually reinforced the big picture.  He began his ministry by telling his followers why he was here on planet Earth (Luke 4:18,19) and he concluded his ministry by passing that baton to his disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  He was constantly reminding his disciples that they were involved in a work which had far reaching and eternal ramifications.

The story is told of two laborers working side by side in the construction of a great cathedral.  When asked what they were doing, one replied, “I am laying blocks” while the other proclaimed, “I am helping construct a magnificent edifice which will be used for the glory of God.”

If your employees are going to be passionate about what they do, they need to believe that it is worthwhile, important, and making the world a better place.  You need to impart the big picture to them.

5. Pray for them.

Jesus’ not only practiced a life of prayer, he also prayed specifically for his followers (John 17:21).   You can do everything right in training your employees, but, unless you pray for them, you are omitting the most critical element in molding them: God’s hand on their lives.  Do you pray for your workers?  By name?  If you don’t, now is a good time to start.

Do you train others?  Which of these lessons from Jesus do you use?  What other lessons would you recommend?

  1. Jayme

    Great article Joe! Another great example of why the Bible is the only book you’ll ever need.

    • Joe Plemon

      Thanks Jayme. The Bible is indeed an amazing book, containing everything we need to know. But what else would one expect from the Word of God?

  2. Jeremiah Brown

    I love this article! Jesus did everything He expects us to do and then charged us with the Great Commission at the end of Matthew. I can attest to the point of being real in the interview process. As a store manager, I have interviewed a lot of people, and my best workers were those who knew the bad as well as the good before being hired.

    • Joe Plemon

      If your best workers are those who knew the bad as well as the good before being hired, my guess is that the opposite could also be true. It makes me wonder if, in our desire for converts, we tend to downplay the negative aspects of being a Christian. Jesus never sugar coated anything.