What does it mean to be Alpha? Most people would say that it involves leadership and confidence; Alphas have a certain presence about them and they can control the room. I would agree. But how an Alpha gains respect and how one uses this influence makes a world of difference. A quick Google Search of the term "alpha male" conjures up pictures, definitions, and how-to guides of rich, powerful, arrogant, and domineering men. I know that’s not how the term is always intended, but I also know some people pursue “Alpha-ness” for the wrong reasons and in the wrong ways. I think "alpha" generally has a negative connotation because it’s often used to describe leaders who abuse their power; but at its core, “alpha” doesn’t have to be a bad thing and, with the right intentions, I think it’s something more men and women should strive for.
I think the ideal example of an alpha leader is Jesus (He is also the Omega, but that’s a different story). Now, before you rent your garments, let me explain: Jesus exemplified all the traits and characteristics of what a true alpha SHOULD be. Maybe that’s not fair since, you know, He’s the Son of God and all, but I stand by it. The image of Jesus that many people have in their heads is that of a quiet, meek, and gentle man. While of course He was loving and gentle, Jesus was also a bold leader. He was highly respected and people flocked to him from all over the known world. He faced adversity, He went against the grain. He inspired and He had power and influence, so much that He was put to death. He changed the world. But we ought to pay attention to HOW He used His authority.
Now Jesus was/is literally perfect, so we can pick any characteristic that He displayed and say it would be good to emulate; but there are a few certain traits that He exemplified and preached that, in my opinion, truly made Him Alpha.
Leadership Through Service
The first thing that made Him such a unique and loved leader was His message of Service and Sacrifice:
“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else (Mk 10:43-44).”
He completely turned Alpha (if that term was even around back then) on its head. The leaders of the time (think Julius Caesar and Pontius Pilate) were respected, feared, and served. They commanded and were obeyed. Those who disobeyed were put to death; but Jesus says that in order to lead, one must serve.
Apply that concept to daily life and we see how wise this is. How much more functional is a system in which a leader serves? How much more respected is that leader? Take the family for example. Mothers and fathers have to serve their families DAILY to cultivate a happy and functioning unit. When a leader serves, he or she sets an example to the rest of their people, just as Jesus set an example for us.
Jesus’ second Alpha trait is Humility. It goes hand-in-hand with service. In fact, without Humility, I daresay you can’t lead through service.
Now, I mentioned this in another post, but Humility is not self-deprecation; it’s honesty. It’s acting in accordance with one’s position and authority while being confident in one’s abilities. It’s being a strong leader and a loyal follower. It’s seeking the Truth and not praise and affirmation. Christ showed us how. He humbly became man, entered the world in a stable, was obedient to His Heavenly Father AND His earthly parents, spent His life preaching the truth, and was violently humiliated on the Cross.
But He was still firm.
Even as a child he taught the Word of God. He used His power to heal and forgive. He cast the market-goers from the temple…like flipped tables and chased them out with whips. He defended His title as the Son of God.
Christ taught Humility by acting in accordance with His position: The Son of God. We, too, can practice Humility by not seeking out attention and praise but by being honest with ourselves, seeking the Truth, and striving to grow.
Finally, Jesus inspired; but not just in a feel-good, everyone wins sort of way. He lifted others up, literally and figuratively. He healed the sick, He challenged the arrogant, He brought people the Truth, and He, over the past 2000 years, has literally changed billions of lives. His mission was one of selfless love, and He continues to inspire others to pursue goodness.
A true Alpha doesn’t ascend to the top only to step on the heads of those around him, but rather to reach down and help those who may still be climbing.
Jesus was a bold and selfless leader who showed us that true leadership involves service and sacrifice. He was firm and confident yet showed great humility and charity. And He continues to change the lives of millions of people and bring them the Truth. His death on the Cross was the ultimate humiliation and inspirational sacrifice. And He asks us to follow Him.
Some people choose to lead through arrogance and selfishness. Instead, when we strive to be Alpha, hopefully we strive to be like Christ. The world needs strong, selfless, and influential leaders; and if we set Jesus as our ideal Alpha, we’ll always have room for improvement.