Skills, intelligence and hard work are all a part of the package of a good leader. When God built His triune leadership team, he was giving us the example of how our leadership teams would have to be built. God’s leadership team consisted of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The three were joined together to serve each other. However, God reminds us that, in the final analysis, one thing makes the difference, and that is the heart of a leader, and
the heart is man’s character.
Let us begin by stating this fact. Leaders cultivate character by acquiring wisdom and understanding. Of course, those possessions do not come without a price. They require the kind of dedicated and patient labor exercised in mining for gold and silver. Leaders must diligently “search” for the wisdom that is buried within God’s Word like treasure covered by layers of earth and rock. That means using the right tools and exercising patience and diligence as we spend time immersed within this life-changing volume.
As we dig, we must ask God to provide us with insight and understanding. Ultimately, only God can open our eyes to see spiritual truth and then enable us to apply that truth to our lives (Ephesians 1:18). As God fills our minds with wisdom, our character will develop so that we will possess the ability to make right choices – choices that are just, fair and moral.
As we seek to possess God’s wisdom, we will be able to move beyond simply expressing the vision and values of a leader. We will possess the kind of character from which lofty visions and values flow. Our character will be truly godly, so that others will delight in following us.
Next, I must lead myself. This may seem strange but it is actually critical to good leadership. How can I lead others where I am not going myself? How can I direct others if my own life is out of control?
Jim Whitaker, who was the first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, said “you never
conquer a mountain – mountains can’t be conquered; you conquer yourself – your hopes, your fears”. Proverbs 25:28 like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Ultimately, when God is leading me and I am leading myself, I can lead other people. After all, as the old saying goes, if no one is following me, then I am not leading; I am merely going for a walk alone!
A leader must know him or herself and then seek self improvement. That means a humble recognition that the leader does not have all the answers. In addition, after self-examination identifies weak areas, the leader will demonstrate the traits of INTEGRITY, JUDGMENT, and UNSELFISHNESS. The leader must be of upright character, truthful and honest, to himself and to others. He must strive to make sound, well-informed, and Scripturally-based decisions. This requires the leader to be unselfish with his or her time and talents.
And finally, the leader must SET THE EXAMPLE. “Passionately proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ” requires BEARING, COURAGE, ENDURANCE, and ENTHUSIASM. In particular, in today’s America, a Christian leader must expect that he or she will come under attack from both without and within the MAN-MADE boundaries that seek to define “the Church.” Those without may heap scorn and derision upon the Christian leader. Be prepared to take charge and move forward no matter how many road blocks are laid in your pathway.
The Biblical model for leadership is “servant leadership.” The ultimate model is the suffering servant! Pastors and church leaders seeking to bully or dictate God’s will to their people will never be as effective as those who out of love, compassion and a commitment to God’s will seek to lead their congregations to know and do God’s will.
Servant leaders understand that people matter. People are the “bottom line.” No holy agenda warrants mistreating or manipulating people. The servant leader is willing to sacrifice himself or herself for those they lead. It is the commitment, integrity, compassion, and vision of the leader that causes people to “choose” to follow a servant leader. Who are the people you choose to
follow? What are the characteristics of their leadership style? If you having difficulty leading maybe the place to begin is an examination of your leadership style—your approach to leadership.