What Does the Bible Say About Leaders?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 3, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

For some inspiration to start writing this post, I searched online for “quotes on leadership” and wow - there are tons! When there’s a link titled “620 Leadership Quotes That Will Make You Feel Unstoppable,” you know there’s a lot of quotable phrases out there on the topic. There are also many, many books on leadership, both from Christian and secular viewpoints, and I even took a class in seminary on Christian Leadership. But, for those of us who consider the Bible to be our primary source of authority, what does it say about leaders?

If we consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ, then He is our ultimate leader. Jesus gives us the best example of servant leadership in John 13:13-17, right after He washed the disciples’ feet: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” A leader is one who can humble themselves to even the most menial tasks when needed.

This idea of being a humble leader is also explained by Jesus in Mark 10:42-45: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In some of his letters, Paul provides us with character qualities of good leaders. Titus 1:6-9 says, “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” 1 Timothy 3:1-13 provides a similar description.

In Exodus 18, Moses got a lesson on leadership from his father-in-law Jethro. Moses was trying to handle every dispute that came up among the massive nation of Israel, and it was just too much for him. Jethro urged Moses to appoint additional judges: “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (verse 21). This is a great example of delegating, with those judges handling the smaller cases and only bringing the more difficult ones up to Moses. We still apply this principle in organizations and governments today.

The Bible is full of stories of leaders, some good and some bad, and there are too many to list all of the stories here. You can find many of these in the heroes of the faith series that Logan Ames wrote here.

Romans 12:9-13 is about living out our love for others, but it’s also a good description of what a leader should do: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

While we may be leaders among people, the most important thing to remember is that we’re all called to be followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ. Even the highest leader here on earth still has to submit to the Almighty Leader, God Himself. Where better to learn our leadership skills from than the One who is truly in charge!

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