Today marks Maundy Thursday in our Christian calendar.

This is the day where Jesus endured so much. In just one day He washed his disciples’ feet, gave a new command to love, shared in last supper, anguished in the garden for all that was to come and was then betrayed, arrested and deserted.

We all know that sinking and saddening feeling of being betrayed and many of us know the feeling of experiencing leadership betrayal.

Trying to journey well through these experiences and not letting them stick is so hard, and yet it is key to our ongoing leadership success.

What leadership lessons can we learn from how Jesus led on this day?

Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, which must have been incredibly painful for him to process and work through. Most of the time we get little, or no, heads up of the leadership betrayal we sadly experience, which makes Jesus’ reaction even more poignant and revolutionary to learn from.

Here are three lessons we can learn from Jesus when it comes to leadership betrayal.

1) Consider your first response

Do not let the act of betrayal cause you to respond unthinkingly or unkindly. Jesus’ actions and attitude to Judas in this moment were remarkable. He called him friend. He then permissioned Judas to do what he came for – which was to betray Him!

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

He did all of this knowingly and with such great integrity and intentionality.
Jesus’ commitment to radically live out His final command to love is astonishingly challenging. What would it look like for us to do the same?

This isn’t about letting people walk all over us. It’s about a grace and love-filled response that says no matter what the betrayal, no matter how long they have known, and been led by you – choose love.

2) Consider others

Do not let others get caught up in the act of betrayal.

Twice in this story we see Jesus intervene to stop collateral damage and cause minimal repercussions.

His quick actions to heal the high priest’s ear and to talk down the crowd defused what would most likely have become a riot. Jesus was comfortable in his call and recognised that no one else’s intervention or involvement would help or be healthy.

Remember, God is your vindicator and as much as you want to be understood, and have people on ‘your team/side’, getting your crowd caught up in the betrayal will never be a healthy option.

Jesus’ leadership choice to stay low and stay humble models so much to us about how to behave when caught in a similar moment.

Responding quickly, and containing hurt and damage enabled a better way as it will for us also.

3) Consider the bigger picture

There is always a bigger picture at play. Step back, look up and consider it.

Jesus understood that all of this was to take place so that He could make a way for us.
His choice to see the bigger picture rather than his own pain was for our, and the whole of humanity’s, gain. Wow!

And even after all of this, He was yet to experience the pain of being deserted by his followers and the greatest pain imaginable on the Cross.

Had Jesus reacted differently, the story of the next few days could have been so very different. How he held that agonising moment in the garden of betrayal made a way for Mary, and us, to met him in the garden of redemption and resurrection.

Jesus chose life! Jesus chose to deal with rejection and betrayal well and he left us with these instructions…

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13: 34