The Necessity of Leadership
Much has been said over the history of humanity regarding what does and what does not make a man a leader. What has always been agreed upon is the concept that leaders are a vital necessity. Leaders are never perfect, never 100% correct, nor do they always take actions for the right reasons, but they are as necessary to humanity as air is to our lungs. Churches need sound elders who will lead biblically. Countries need stable and moral politicians to spur on the nation. Businesses need wise management in order to be successful. The point is if there is to be a people led in the right direction then they must have leaders who will stand up and urge them on through words and actions.
In the Scripture, God chose Adam to be the caretaker, leader, and protector of Eve, and they were given the mandate to subdue creation. Christ appointed twelve men to be the primary leaders of the early church. God selected Moses to be the primary leader for the people of Israel departing out of Egypt. This responsibility was then passed on to Joshua. The Apostle Paul was a leader in many churches and then urged pastors such as Timothy and Titus to continue leading the church faithfully. God ordained Esther to stand up for her people and protect the Jews while also using Mordecai to speak wisdom. Leadership is biblical since God does ordain individuals for this role. Our world today is undoubtedly in need of good and strong leadership. What makes someone a good leader? How do you identify a leader who excels? Let’s look at a few biblical traits.
Leaders Must Be Humble
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Paul said these words to the church in Philippi and undoubtedly they ring true for every Christian. If someone is going to be a leader, then they must first be humble. This quality is the calling upon every follower of Christ to humble themselves before Him. We must realize that we are not ultimate, God is! Therefore, our objective in life is to do what is glorifying to Him and to care for the interests of others. When we make decisions, they should not be based upon what is best for our selfish interests, but what is most glorifying to our God and good for others.
If this is true of normal everyday people like you and I, how much more so is it for those in positions of leadership? When leaders seek their own interests, then they will make every decision based upon what is best for themselves. Leaders who act valiantly choose decisions based upon what is best for those they lead. William Wilberforce hardly chose to fight for the abolishment of slavery because it was best for him. He chose it because it was right in the eyes of God and good for his fellowman. Those who lead with excellence make the hard choices even when it is to their own temporal detriment. That decision is a mark of humility, being willing to consider yourself last and others first. This trait is vital for anyone in leadership positions. They must submit to God and seek the good of others.
Wisdom and Knowledge
Another trait of phenomenal leadership is that these individuals exercise true wisdom and they live in accordance with correct knowledge. They base their decisions upon reality and not upon misinformation or lies. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” To know God and to understand what is true is foundational for leadership. The opportunity to have true wisdom and exercise is paramount for leaders to excel. If an individual is acting foolishly, then they will not have the ability to be a successful leader. For someone to base all of their decisions on false knowledge necessitates they will make erroneous decisions. If their foundation is off, then their evaluations will be as well. This fact means obtaining true knowledge and wisdom is pivotal to the success of a leader.
The temptation for a leader is to believe lies. In other words, they may want to believe what makes them feel and look good instead of the actual truth. Because of the position they have been given, the temptation to pride is a real danger just as it is for all of us, but perhaps even more intensely for leaders. Scripture says this, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” If a leader will only listen to what puffs them up, then they will not obtain true information. It can be difficult for a political figure to digest the impacts of a poor decision they have made. However, they must be humble enough to realize their fault so that they can obtain true knowledge and then apply that knowledge by exercising biblical wisdom. If they are too prideful to listen, then they will base their decisions upon false assumptions which can be devastating. True wisdom and knowledge flows from the heart of a humble man, but they flee from those who are proud. Therefore, a great leader will surround themselves with individuals who will proclaim the truth to them even if it means these counselors provide correction and rebuke to the leader.
Foresight and Courage
Being diligent to focus on planning for the future is the mark of a wise man. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” The idea here is that those who will work hard, who toil with great care, they are going to plan but fools rush in hastily. When applying this principle to leadership, if someone is going to be a great leader, then they must plan ahead in their strategies. A war general who is 5 steps behind his enemy on the battlefield will fail miserably. The battleground leader who is 10 steps ahead of the enemy in his strategical planning will undoubtedly win. Similarly, if a leader is to fulfill their role well, then they must be ahead of the curve and not behind it!
The last quality of a good leader which I will mention in this post is that of courage. God commanded Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).” Leaders must have the courage to stand when things are difficult. They must make decisions based upon what is good and not upon what is easy. Biblical leadership requires trust in the sovereign plans of God and a willingness to do what is right. Let the chips fall where they may, good leaders must take steps with courage and trust God with the results. I pray this list has been helpful for you in thinking about qualities of leadership. Is there anything you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments!