Jesus – the Leo personality

23/07/09 | Posted by Steve Hollinghurst

The Lion is the traditional animal that symbolizes Mark’s Gospel. It is also very common as an animal chosen in heraldry to represent royalty. Jesus spoke much of a kingdom that would come on earth that he was ruler over. The image of Jesus as King sounds potentially authoritarian in an age when monarchs are often ceremonial figureheads and we expect to elect our leaders. Yet we recognise some people as being ‘born leaders’. This would be true of the Leo Personality and was true of Jesus, but what kind of leader are we talking about?

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 Leo (traditionally July 23rd – August 22nd)

Like all the animals that relate to one of the four gospels the lion, Leo, is the most typical of the heart/fire personality element.  We sometimes talk of people as lion-hearted, and we see them as courageous leaders who go ahead with self-assurance. People with this personality type are not going to sit in the background; they will be in the limelight and love to draw attention to themselves. They are ambitious but also warm-hearted and affectionate. They are natural born leaders with a touch of flair and drama. They will courageously pursue a vision of the good in society and champion the weak and powerless as creative leaders.

But there is a down side to this character; they crave the attention, adoration and following of others. If they don’t get this they can become jealous, snobbish and foolhardy in their attempts to draw attention to themselves and establish what they see as their rightful importance and place at the centre of things. If, however they do receive the attention they feel they deserve it can go to their heads and they can be bossy, arrogant and, convinced of their prowess, equally foolhardy as they seek to show off their ability.

It is perhaps no accident that as Jesus, as the one who contains all the human traits, shows the qualities of this personality type, he also constantly has to battle with the temptations it brings. The start of Jesus public ministry follows a series of temptations that seek to cause Jesus to fall into the kind of traps that can undermine the leadership qualities of the Leo personality.  The first temptation is to feed the poor by turning stones into bread. Feeding the poor is clearly a god thing to do, but there are two dangers here. One is to assume that giving a handout is a real solution; man does not live by bread alone Jesus responds. The other relates to the quick route to power and success. Later when Jesus does miraculously feed a crowd they want to make him king by force, and he has to escape them lest they undermine his vision of society by the method used to achieve it. He knows that the idea that the end justifies the means is the root by which good intentions become corrupted and evils triumphs. The second temptation would strongly appeal to an unwise Leo, to create a miraculous spectacle by throwing himself off the temple so angels would appear and catch him. Most of us would share the confidence of such an angelic safety net, but publicity stunts can tempt us to gain fame for all the wrong reasons even if we wish to use it for good. If you really want to change the world for the better perhaps not all publicity is good publicity. Finally Jesus is offered rulership of the world if he will bow down and worship the devil. Again power is offered, but through a dangerous bargain that would undermine the moral case for exercising such power.

A cool head and perceptive understanding of what is really going on, qualities associated with the air/mind element, are those needed to respond this way and avoid the traps the hot headed Leo might rush into in their desire to be the great leader everyone notices and admires. Developing these kind of traits will help such people grow.

Jesus has to learn not to fall into the temptations that come with leadership. He warns his followers the same ‘do not be like the leaders of the nations who lord it over their subjects’ he tells them ‘instead he who aspires to lead must be the servant of others’.  We see Jesus demonstrating this as he enters Jerusalem to a hero’s welcome on what has come to be called Palm Sunday after the palm branches strewn in Jesus path as he is welcomed like a king. Yet this king pointedly does not arrive on horse back with an army, but on a donkey with a motley band of everyday folks who are his followers. The King of Peace doesn’t come as a warrior but as a man of peace. Later that week Jesus demonstrates what it is to be a servant leader when he takes on the menial task of washing the feet of his followers as they prepare for dinner. If the path of true leadership involves humility and service it also involves self sacrificial love. In John’s apocalyptic vision in heaven he hears the angels proclaim that the lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered and can open the scroll that will usher in the coming of God’s Kingdom. Yet if we are expecting to see a conquering lion talking centre stage in true Leo style we are in for a surprise. As this conquering lion is revealed in turns out to be a lamb that has been sacrificed. Both the words and images refer to Jesus and his overcoming of the power for evil. But in the end this is achieved by his self-sacrificial death, not any military power.

For those who are the natural born leaders this is a challenging model of leadership, Jesus knows this as he calls his followers to adopt this approach. For those however who would want to transform society, as many with the Leo personality do, it is the way that must be followed if the temptations of power and fame are to be avoided. It is something God can do in us through his Spirit if we seek to be more like Jesus and realize the best of who were are meant to be.

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Your comments

Once long ago I looked for my identity also in the Zodiac signs. Now, reading this as a Christian who has avoided reading horoscopes & about signs for years, I got like a releasing idea that I *do not need* to be a ‘born leader’ or anything the sign describes me.

#1. By Linx on September 27, 2010

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