The definition of leadership: Firstly it is the ability to gain followers. Secondly, it is the ability to motivate people towards a certain goal. Thirdly, it is the ability to influence people.
We read about King David, “So he (David) swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah…” (2 Samuel 19:14) The qualities within leaders motivate others to follow them. We also read in the book of Judges, “When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord!” (Judges 5:2)
This does not mean that all leaders are good. There have been many very evil leaders that have had strong leadership qualities, for example Hitler, had strong leadership qualities, but he was evil. However, for the sake of this study, we are going to look at qualities from a Christian perspective, and the purpose of this study is to encourage us to develop godly leadership qualities.
Leadership is open to all of us and will improve our quality of life and our fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God. There are those who have been born with leadership qualities and are natural leaders, but these are in the minority. Most leaders are leaders because they have developed leadership skills. We have the example of David’s mighty men. When David met them, they were a group of defeated people. They were in distress, in debt and discontented, (1 Samuel 22:2). However,after spending time with David, they became mighty leaders in Israel. (2 Samuel 23:8) The same is true of Jesus and His disciples. When He found them they were ordinary fishermen, but after spending three and a half years with them, they became anointed apostles.
It is also true that the condition of the people depends on the condition of the leaders. In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel were blessed when they had good kings and suffered when they had bad kings. The condition of the kings affected the condition of the people. When the kings turned to idolatry, the people fell into idolatry. The same is true of a church or a Christian organization. The spiritual health of the people will depend on the spiritual health of the leaders. People rise or fall on the qualities of their leaders! The Bible says,“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)
Different levels of leadership:
The first level of leadership is appointed leadership: This is what we will call, appointed leadership and are those who have been appointed by other leaders. For example, a pastor can choose a youth leader, and the reason why the youth leader is a leader, is because of his position and not because of his ability. However, this does not mean that he does not have the ability to lead. Many political appointments fall into this category. If the top leader is corrupt, the leaders under him are usually weak and corrupt.
The second level of leadership what we call relational leadership: This is a person who has a relationship with those whom he leads. People will usually follow this person because they like or love that person, for example good loving pastor is loved by the people he leads. Cornelius in the Acts 10 falls into this category.
The third level of leadership is called performance leadership: This is when people follow the leader because of his or her abilities and performance. This is an example of an anointed pastor or apostle. The people now go beyond just loving the leader; they now begin to admire the leader. Miracles begin to happen, souls get saved and the pastor preaches dynamic sermons that bless the people.
The highest and fourth level of leadership is called reproductive leadership: This is when people follow the leader because the leader has made an investment into their lives. This type of leader reproduces his leadership qualities in the lives of those he leads. Our best example is that of Jesus. He made an investment into a small group of followers and they in turn became mighty leaders. Therefore, the highest goal of leadership should be to raise up other leaders. For example, a good pastor is someone that raises up other pastors!
Furthermore, the higher the level of leadership, the easier it becomes to lead and the more willing the people will be to follow that leader. For example, there may be a lot of rebellion under someone that has been appointed, but very seldom under someone who has made an investment in the lives of others.
Important qualities of leadership.
We are now going to look at some of the qualities that we need to develop in our lives to become good leaders. I want to give a summary of these qualities and comment briefly on each of them.
Firstly the importance of humility:
One of the best examples in the Bible was that of Moses. We read in Numbers 12:3, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” This is the greatest quality that God look for in our lives. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26) As we said before, it is a good desire to be a leader, but we must serve! In the book of James we read, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) Notice, as we do the humbling, God will do the raising up. If we try to exalt ourselves, then God will do the humbling for us!
Often, we can “catch the spirit of leaders” when we humbly serve them. For example, Elisha served Elijah and caught the ‘spirit of Elijah.’ Timothy served Paul, and also became an apostle. We have the instruction that the old advisors gave to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, “If you be a servant to these people today and serve them and answer them and speak good words to them, then they shall be your servants forever.” (1 Kings 12:7) If we want people to serve us, we must be willing to serve. We serve our way to leadership!
Secondly, the importance of faithfulness:
Faithfulness is a big subject so we will only look briefly at what it means to be faithful. We read in the parable of the talents, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” (Matthew 25:21) Notice again, if we are faithful, God will make us rulers, He will lift us up into leadership.
Paul spoke about how God put him into the ministry, ““I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (1 Tim. 1:12) Notice the order here, firstly he was faithful and because of that, God enabled him and then God put him into the ministry. Paul also gives Timothy this very important instruction, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Paul was saying to Timothy, that those whom he had to train for ministry and put in leadership had to be faithful.
Faithfulness therefore, gives us a platform to influence and teach others. For example, if we teach on giving, we need to be faithful in giving. Jesus said, “If you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you your own? (Luke 16:12) If we are not faithful to our leaders, God will not allow us to lead others. It is more important for us to reach for responsibility than for authority!
We have a wonderful promise in the book of Proverbs, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings.” (Proverbs 22:29) God will open up wonderful and important opportunities for us if we are faithful with our responsibilities. We will stand before important people!
Thirdly, the importance of vision:
A leader is someone who has goals and is able to motivate others to reach his goals. If the leader does not know where he is going, no one will follow him. Therefore, people will only follow leader that are going somewhere! For example, Nehemiah had the vision to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Therefore, it was easy for him to motivate people to do so. He said to the people, “Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” They answered him and said, “Let us rise up and build.” (Neh. 2:17-18)
There is much we can say about vision, but this is covered extensively in the study called, vision and calling. It is important also that the vision of the leader should be big enough to include the visions and the goals of those whom he leads. For example, if I want to be a missionary, then my leader should also have a vision for missions!
Fourthly, the importance of commitment:
A leader must be serious in his commitment to the Lord if he wants to lead others. In fact, his level of commitment should be higher than the commitment of those he leads. He prays more, studies more and gives more! We notice that Jesus only focused on committed people and ignored those who were not serious about following after Him.
Therefore, a good leader should have a clear understanding of authority and submission. He knows the importance of being under authority in order to have authority. For example the Roman centurion said to Jesus, “For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, I say to this one ‘go’ and he goes and to another ‘come’ and he comes.” (Matthew 8:9) We cannot lead effectively unless we are under authority of other leaders and the church. Even though the senior leader of a church may not have anyone to submit to, but he can still be open and accountable to those whom he leads and have a submissive attitude to listen to others.
Fifthly, the importance of spiritual discipline:
This especially applies to the discipline of prayer. Discipline is the price that we have to pay if we want to be leaders. We read about Daniel who was a disciplined leader, “Daniel distinguished himself above the satraps and governors, because an excellent spirit was in him.” (Daniel 6:4) He had an excellent spirit that distinguished himself above the other leaders because of his personal discipline of praying three times a day. (Daniel 6:10)
Jesus was our best example. We read that “He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) As we become busy in the ministry, we need to be more disciplined in prayer. Those that have a good quality relationship with God will be able to lead others. Many of the great leaders in the Bible were people who spent much time in prayer. We can see this especially in the life of Paul when we read his epistles.
Sixthly, the importance of a strong vibrant faith:
In Hebrews chapter 11, we have a list of leaders, the heroes of the faith. A good leader must be a person of faith and have a positive victory mentality. Paul writes, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14) God does not lead us in defeat and failure; He leads us in triumph and victory. Therefore, if want to lead others, we must have a victory mentality. People will not follow defeated and discouraged leaders! A good leader must also have victory in his or her own personal life.
We have an example of this in the life of Caleb. He was a great leader and also a man of faith. When everyone else was negative and discouraged about entering the Promised Land he said, “Let us go up at once and take possessions for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13.30) The people said “we cannot” but Caleb said “yes we can!” Therefore, a good leader is not influenced by circumstances or people, but by his faith in the word of God. Good leaders are people of faith! When everyone says, “we cannot“, they say, “Yes we can!” When everyone says, “the problem is too big”, they say, “God is bigger than the problem!”
Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Jesus, our best example of leadership, is building a powerful, dynamic church that will destroy the powers of darkness. Therefore, He expects a high level of faith from those who aspire to be leaders. Smith Wigglesworth said, “How can we say, ‘we can’t, when the great I CAN lives in us!”
Seventhly, leaders must be filled with the Holy Spirit:
In the book of Acts, we read how they had to choose seven leaders who were filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 6:3) The anointing of the Holy Spirit qualifies us to be leader. We read about Barnabas one of the apostles. It says that, “He was a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 11:24) Some of us may feel today that we will never be promoted and God will never use us. Well, one thing we can all do is to increase our anointing and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Great spiritual leaders are those who are full of the Holy Spirit!
Eighthly, good leaders are those that love the Lord and love the people they lead:
One of the greatest leaders in the Bible was King David and his greatest quality was that he loved God. God says about him, “… I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22) Great leaders are great lovers of God!
Jesus says to Peter three times after the resurrection, “Do you love Me? When Peter answered yes, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep, tend My sheep and feed My lambs.” In other words, “if you love me, I will let you lead and feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17) Jesus was our example. He was the Good Shepherd that laid down His life for His sheep. If we develop our love for God and our love for others, we will increase in the ability to lead people. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The man, lion, ox and eagle – the profile of a balanced leader
In Ezekiel we read about a vision that Ezekiel had. “As for the likeness of their faces, they each had a face of a man; each of the four had a face of a lion on the right side. Each of the four had a face of an ox and each of the four had the face of an eagle on the left side.” (Ezekiel 1:10) There can be a number of interpretations to this vision. I want to use this as a profile for a balanced leader.
We notice that on the one side we have the face of a man, and the face of a lion. The man speaks about the human side of the leader. He is friendly, approachable, friendly and kind. He is not some supernatural monster! We see this in the life of Jesus. He was the Son of God, but He was also approachable and human. He played with children, he sat with sinners, He was loving and kind.
Then we have the profile of the lion. The lion speaks about the authoritative side of the leader. He is bold, dynamic, and not afraid to confront people, he leads with power and authority. Jesus was like this, especially when He was with the Pharisees. He was not afraid to rebuke them. He also confronted Peter and said, “Get behind Me satan!” Therefore, a good leader is a balance between a man and a lion. He must have both these qualities in his life.
On the other side we have the face of an ox and the face of an eagle. The ox speaks about hard work and serving others. A good leader is not too super spiritual. He is not afraid to work hard and get his hands dirty! We see this in the life of Jesus, how He served people and washed the feet of His disciples. Then we also have the face of the eagle. This speaks about the spirituality of the leader. Just as the eagle flies in the sky, a good leader lives in the anointing, he prays and worships God and has a personal relationship with God. Jesus was obviously a good example of this. He regularly prayed and moved in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, a good leader has the balance between the ox and the eagle. He works hard, but he is also spiritual!
Finally: Let is aspire to be good leaders. Good leadership will improve our quality of life on earth and will result in great eternal rewards. Amen