Peter & Kelly

on The Way

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Peter & Kelly + Lukas + Emmet + Danai

Going to Heaven: The concept of heaven in the Bible and Christian teaching
Research Paper (All Nations Christian College) 2 June 2004 — Peter Passchier

Is participation in Freemasonry wholesome for disciples of Jesus?
Advanced Religions Paper (All Nations Christian College) 7 May 2004 — Peter Passchier

Passages from Colossians and Hebrews compared
Assignment Christology (All Nations Christian College) 5 December 2003 — Peter Passchier

Is Israel's election related to any inherent qualities?
Assignment Old Testament Theology (All Nations Christian College) 28 November 2003 — Peter Passchier

The Gospel and the Religions
Reading Report Theology of Mission (All Nations Christian College) 11 November 2003 — Peter Passchier

Efforts towards unity within the church
Assignment Churchplanting (All Nations Christian College) 27 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Jesus: transactional or transformational?
Assignment Leadership (All Nations Christian College) 20 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Isaiah in crises
Assignment History and Literature of the Hebrew Bible (All Nations Christian College) 17 March 2003 — Peter Passchier

Do missionaries destroy cultures?
Assignment Social Anthropology (All Nations Christan College) 6 December 2002 — Peter Passchier

Temple Tumult
Assignment New Testament: Gospels and Acts (All Nations Christian College) 29 November 2002 — Peter Passchier

Initial Assignment (All Nations Christian College) 1 October 2002 — Peter Passchier

A Narrow Escape
A Narrow Escape (Creative writing) 13 September 2015 — Kelly Passchier

Assignment Leadership (All Nations Christian College) 20 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Jesus: transactional or transformational?


Wanting to learn more about leadership, it pays to look at the person who is and has been considered by many millions of people to be their ultimate leader — Jesus Christ. The concepts of transactional and transforming leadership as first expounded by Burns (1978) and refined by Bass (1985; see Boje, 2000) will be outlined and the biblical material on Jesus' style of leadership will be viewed in the light of these categories.

Leadership theory

Fitting ancient leaders into modern leadership categories has been done before. Weber did this for Jesus, and Burns saw Moses as the prototypical charismatic —transformational— leader. Burns effectively initiated leadership as a distinct area of scientific study, taking an interdisciplinary approach. When Burns expounded his views in the seventies, leadership theory was rather called management theory —in business science-, and its main modernist exponent. Likert, was not considering ethics or motivation — these were implicitly taken for granted. Likert's approach has been labeled the transactional perspective (Underwood, 2001), and earlier studies in leadership had mostly looked at great leaders and their traits, but not at leadership as an overarching concept. Burns distinction between transactional and transformational leadership can be seen as moving from the then current modernist paradigm to the countercultural insight which he subsumed under the heading of transformational leadership. He built on the ideas of Maslow's motivational theory of needs and Kohlberg's research on ethical decision making (Sorenson, 2002). In those days —the sixties and seventies— Alvin Toffler's 'Third Wave' (see Higginson, 1996) had gained a huge momentum, and the modernist paradigm which had lost its speed in the aftermath of the Second World War was crumbling in the face of the increase of information, communication and global awareness. Apart from applying insights from experiential and humanistic psychology, Burns —educated in political science— leaned heavily on the sociological work of Weber on leadership (Boje, 2000). Weber described the dialectics of charismatic and bureaucratic leadership, and these categories correspond to transformational and transactional; Weber's third category —traditional leadership— was seen by Burns as engaging in transactional behaviour —guided by modal morality— and thus dispensed with. Weber's other dimension —the will to power versus the will to serve— was disregarded by Burns altogether (it would be easy to argue that Jesus' first coming is characterized by the will to serve!). The positive morality that Burns attached to transformational leadership was corrected by Bass (1985; see Boje, 2000) who expanded the model and engaged in empirical corroboration. Even though Bass saw Hitler as a transformational leader —Burns did not-, Bass saw transactional leadership to be of lesser value. Being aware of these developments of leadership theory helps understanding the positive bias towards transformational leadership. The empirical scales of transactional and transformational leadership from Bass & Avolio's factoranalytical study (1994 — see Elliott, 2001; Sarros, 2001) will be used to refine and clarify the concepts. They have actually found a third dimension, which relates to behaviours that exhibit a lack of leadership, a laissez-faire attitude; it leads to heightened conflict, low morale and underperformance. This gives rise to a third option in categorizing some of Jesus' behaviours and their effects on His followers. Using a different but insightful terminology, the transactional and transformational leadership categories are reflected in the distinction between managers and leaders (Bennis, 1989; see also Boje, 2000). The operational definition of these categories plays a significant role, as many different nonempirical characterizations have been given! It is often recognized that both type of skills are necessary within an organization, and transactional leadership skills are seen te be subsumed by transformational leadership (Leithwood, 1990 — in Rice, 1993), or they are seen as complementary (Higginson, 1996).

Transactional leadership

Burns (1978) described transactional leadership as an exchange of economic, political or psychological goods between a leader and a follower without a further common cause or higher purpose. According to Kotter (1996) this type of leadership produces a degree of order and predictability. In practice, these leaders use more closed and leading questions (Randell, 1997). People are tools that can be used or abused and disposed with when they no longer serve their purpose (Tan, 1996). It can be empirically measured by the factors: contingent rewards, active management-by-exception, and passive management-by-exception (Bass & Avolio, 1994 — see Elliott, 2001; Sarros, 2001). Contingent rewards refers to a prearranged agreement: "If you do as we agreed then ..."; it specifies expectancy and sets goals. Active management-by-exception refers to behaviour where the leader is actively monitoring a follower: "I am seeing to it that you (do not) ..."; the leader is strongly supervising and has specified corrective actions for mistakes. Passive management-by-exception occurs when the leader is passively monitoring a follower: "If I happen to notice that you (did not) ..."; the leader takes corrective action in the case of mistakes if these are found out. All these behaviours work on the principles of expectancy of reward and fear of punishment, related to needs that are lower on Maslow's hierarchy. They require a follower to perform in a controlled and measurable way in order to fulfil the instrumental goals set by the leader.

Transformational leadership

Burns (1978) described transformational leadership as the leader appealing to higher needs and aspirations of followers, raising both the leader and the follower to higher levels of motivation and morality. He theorized about the categories intellectual, reform, revolutionary, and heroic, but no empirical basis for this was provided or found in later studies. Kotter (1996) remarks that transformational leaders produce (often dramatic) change; the leaders are mostly esteemed by their followers. They tend to use more open and reflective questions in their interactions with followers (Randell, 1997). People are valuable in themselves as autonomous beings, to be developed and empowered (Tan, 1996). Bass & Avolio (1994 — see Elliott, 2001; Sarros, 2001) found as factors of transformational leadership: idealized influence, idealized behaviour, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Idealized influence —also known as charisma— inspires followers to have high moral standards, vision and purpose; this is the most prototypical of transformational leaders, and specifically refers to the followers' perception of the leader that inspires trust. Idealized behaviour refers to the actual behaviours of the leader that inspire followers and encourages to share common vision and goals. Inspirational motivation refers to presenting a clear, appealing and motivating vision to followers, raising their expectations and beliefs, working on the emotional level. Intellectual stimulation means challenging the status quo and questioning assumptions in order to stimulate thought, increasing problem awareness, creativity and values in followers. Individual consideration means awareness of and proactivity towards the individual concerns and needs of followers through coaching and mentoring behaviours (Pike e.a., 2002). All these factors correlated significantly higher with measures of success —the achievement of business goals— than the factors of transactional leadership (Claar, 1997), demonstrating empirical support for the positive bias towards transformational leadership.


In line with the generally positive evaluation of transformational leadership (eg. Rees, 2001), Jesus has often been described as belonging to this category (eg. Tan, 1996). But then, even the Jewish leaders of His time, noncharismatic and traditional, forcefully opposed by Jesus, can be described as being transformational leaders (Langbert & Friedman, 2001), maintaining the Jewish identity in the onslaught of Hellenization, Roman rule and the rise of Christianity.

Lower versus higher needs & goals

Although Jesus mentioned things like daily bread, and healed many sicknesses, this does not mean that he focused on lower needs (Matthew 6:25). The lowest needs according to Maslow are the needs for safety, food and shelter, and the highest is self-actualization, fulfillment. In most theologies the latter is seen as the core of the gospel, although Marxism-related gospels also stress the importance of more basic needs. He certainly did not mean to motivate people with this, sometimes trying to forbid people to speak about healings, and reprimanding his disciples for their interest in food (John 6:26). God knows they need those basics, and promises to provide those, but in lieu of active partaking in higher goals (Luke 12:31).

Order & predictability versus change

It cannot be said that Jesus brought order and predictability to His times — though that may be what He will be doing on His second coming. He changed people and through them he changed the world and societies were transformed; he brought upheaval (Matthew 10:34). Although He stated that He did not come to annul but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17-20), he made it clear that the current traditions and their keepers were on the wrong track and He called for repentance (Matthew 4:17). He did not at all call for political revolution, but he did call for a revolution of attitudes: do not resist but comply with demands, love your enemies and pray for your persecutors (Matthew 5:38-45); this changed people from within — transformational. The apostle Paul did encourage people to accept their station in life (eg. 1 Timothy 6:1-2), but this says more about Paul's leadership style and can be viewed as political expediency. Jesus did function within the society in a traditional role, people called Him rabbi — although He taught with authority and did not do what rabbis usually do, discus the teachings of other rabbis. But transformational leaders are not necessarily out to change society or an organization, they focus on the transformation of people — which might well result in larger scale changes. There were many traditions and customs that Jesus did not conform to, so He was accused of not eating the Sabbath and of eating with people one was supposed to avoid — He did the right thing, He did not necessarily do things right in the eyes of others. He did establish the commemoration of the Lord's Supper and he commanded to baptize believers, bringing order in His church for centuries to come, but bringing order was not necessarily His chief aim with those institutions.

Closed & leading versus open & reflective questions

Clearly, Jesus sometimes asked closed questions, but —arguably— in all cases, they were not meant to gather information, but often to provoke reflection or a change in the people He asks — transformational. He is in no way trying to manage an organization and therefore gathering information, directing and getting people to comply, but he was seeking transformation in people's beliefs and preconceptions.

People as tools to be (ab)used versus individuals to be developed

Very few people would state that Jesus was out trying to use people for His own means — this would entail arguing that Jesus' goals were detrimental to His followers so He would have to mislead them. This would either mean that His death on the cross was unintended —but He announced it beforehand— or it would imply an uncommon Gnostic worldview where Jesus is a selfish, lesser God and His death gave greater benefit to Himself than to His followers. There is every evidence in the gospels that Jesus was out to change and develop people, to bring fulfillment to their lives (John 10:10).

Transactional : contingent rewards, active & passive management-by-exception

"If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever." This promise from John 6:51 could be an example of contingency reward, there is a conditional, except that to live forever cannot be entirely contingent — it is eternal and by no means uncertain. In general, the reward-structures —promises— that Jesus gave have this noncontingent character, the promised results are eternal or far away —like an inheritance— and stated very categorically. There is no evidence of controlling people or getting them to comply by immediate rewards, as was demonstrated in the discussion of lower needs. This also applies to management-by-exception, there is no petty punishment for noncompliancy (Romans 13:5), although there is eternal punishment delineated, this is more a warning than meant as a means of coercion (Mark 16:16). Jesus had made clear that He had come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) — a people-centered goal par excellence.

Transformational: idealized influence, idealized behaviour, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration

Jesus undeniably had charisma, if not because of personal style then certainly because of the miracles he performed. He inspired followers —and still does!— to have high moral standards, vision and purpose. He inspires a lot of trust, and is the explicit receptor of that trust — many have been put to death for keeping their trust in Him. He actively encouraged to share common vision and goals, the Kingdom of Heaven is the inheritance of His followers (Matthew 25:24), for them to participate in and to be given to them (Luke 12:32). He did present an appealing and motivating vision to followers, though not always very clear — think about all the parables of what the Kingdom of God is like (Luke 8:10). The expectations were raised of those who grasped and believed Him, and He actively encouraged belief and expectation (Matthew 21:22; Mark 16:17). In a major way Jesus challenged the status quo (Matthew 23:13), questioned assumptions (Luke 13:1-5), stimulated thought (John 3:5) and increased problem awareness — the problem of sin, separating men from God. He had concern for the individual needs & concerns of followers as exemplified in the incident of Lazarus' resurrection (John 11:1-45) where there is evidence of mentoring of both Maria and Martha.


Transformational leadership is clearly at the heart of Jesus' actions as described in the gospels, as He came to transform, and not to manage. Especially when empirical measures of transactional and transformational leadership are taken into account, it becomes even more clear that there is little of the businesslike and managerial attitude of transactional leadership present in Jesus' example.


Bass, B.M. (1985) Leadership and Performance beyond Expectations (New York: The Free Press).

Bennis, W.G. (1989) On Becoming a Leader (Illinois: InterVarsity).

Boje, D. (2000) 'Transformational Leadership' at <>, June 2003.

Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership (New York: Harper Collins), ch.1.

Claar, T.B (1997) 'Leadership' at <>, June 2003.

Elliott, R.H. (2001) 'Organisational Leadership in Challenging Times: Australian Perspectives and New Benchmarks' at <>, June 2003.

Higginson, R. (1996) Transforming Leadership: A Christian Approach to Management (London: SPCK), ch.2.

Kotter, J.P. (1996) Leading Change (Boston: Harvard Business School), ch.2.

Langbert, M. & Friedman, H.H (2001) 'Perspectives on Transformational Leadership in the Sanhedrin of Ancient Judaism' at <> June 2003.

Meyers, R. (2003) 'e-Sword 7.0.5 ' at <>, June 2003.

Pike, H. e.a. (2003) 'Personality And Military Leadership' at <>, June 2003.

Randell, G.A. (1997) 'Transactional & Transformational Leadership' at <>, June 2003.

Rees, E. (2001) 'Seven Principles of Transformational Leadership — Creating A Synergy of Energy' at <>, June 2003.

Rice, J.B (1993) 'Transactional and Transformational Leadership: an Analysis of Male and Female Leadership Styles in Delaware Public Schools' at <>, June 2003.

Sarros, J.C. e.a. (2001) 'AIM-Monash Leadership report 2001' at <>, June 2003.

Sorenson, G. (2002) 'An Intellectual History of Leadership Studies: The Role of James MacGregor Burns' at <>, June 2003.

Tan, H. (1996) 'Transformational Leadership' at <>, June 2003.

Underwood, M. (2001) 'Group Leadership: criticisms' at <>, June 2003.

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