What is leadership?
This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. In many different respects I am a leader.
I lead a company. A multi-million-dollar organization is hinging on me to lead them properly. I work across multiple states so it makes it more difficult as much of my leadership is virtual. I am responsible for ensuring the money is flowing into the company, so you can call me the operations guy.
I lead a ministry. I am an elder in my church and lead missions to Peru as well as a couple small groups. As a church leader I am under scrutiny to make sure that those I am discipling are understanding the message and applying it in their lives.
I lead a family. With 2 biological children and 4 step-children as well as a wife I have my hands full trying to know how to lead them. I find them the most challenging to lead, honestly, because of the day in and day out dynamics of family.
Every so often we go through seasons that knock us down and cause us to question our leadership and wonder if we are doing it right. I am currently in one of those seasons.
Since I have been struggling to understand my efficacy as a leader I decided to study both worldly and biblical leadership and see if I am modeling it in my company, ministry and family. This is also giving me the opportunity to determine if worldly and biblical leadership have any common areas.
So, I am going to find the most prevalent traits of a successful worldly leader and the 4-5 most prevalent traits of a biblical leader and determine if there is crossover. After that, I am going to strive to create a model of leadership that I can work toward attaining. Change is never easy, but we are called as Christians to grow in our application of God’s Word, His vision in our lives, and our relationships.
Worldly Leadership Qualities:
How can you lead others if you don’t know how to lead yourself? A good worldly leader knows how to prioritize the goals and then deliver on those goals. This means that you know how to control your time, your emotions, your actions and be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Handling stress and balancing it throughout their personal lives is key. They don’t let stress lead them, they lead by compassion and strive to respond to people appropriately.
A good worldly leader is always looking to the future and able to keep an open mind as to how to get there. Their initial plan may not be the best so they need to remain open to ideas from others in order to be successful. As they look to the future they maintain a positive attitude, even when all is crashing.
- Strong communication.
Good worldly leaders know when to talk and what to say. Talking too much can destroy their reputation and not talking enough can give the people he/she is leading a thought that they are aloof or uncaring. The better they communicate, and the more specific, the better.
Strong leaders know how to use their power and authority without overpowering their team. They take accountability and responsibility for their own mistakes, and they expect others to do the same.
- Clear goal setting.
They set goals and are determined to achieve them. This is done through an unwavering self-confidence. They are enthusiastic about their goal and expect others to buy-in to their dreams. If they give up, their team will give up. They persevere even when their entire team wants to quit.
- They have vision.
They know how to manage change while balancing stability and growth. Continually look for new packaging or branding element but not losing sight what got them where they are. Being adaptable is a key to seeing vision come to fruition.
- Manage complexity.
They know how to solve problems in an environment that is constantly and rapidly changing. They can predict a course of action before all the details are available and they act on their prediction.
- Creativity and innovation.
Great worldly leaders risk a lot to encourage experimentation. This leads their organization into new directions.
- Team building.
Being a successful worldly leader means that they rely on the people in their employ. Without a strong team supporting them, the organization cannot succeed or grow.
- Lasting relationships.
Networking is a key to reaching personal goals and professional ones.
Being able to change quickly will help a world leader gain the edge in a new channel or technology.
As you can see, the worldly leader has a lot of juggling to do. But what about the biblical leader? And what Scripture will back it up? Using primarily Proverbs 16 is a good place to start.
Biblical Leadership Qualities:
- Seeking God’s direction.
A biblical leader must first seek God in all he or she does. Jesus tells us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God.
Proverbs 16:1 – To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
Verse 3 tells us that if we commit our work to the Lord our plans will be established. A good biblical leader seeks God and commits to Him, allowing Him to direct his path.
The biblical leader is not a tyrant nor is he or she arrogant.
Proverbs 16:5 – The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
A good biblical leader is able to empathize with others Compromise is also something that a good biblical leader must learn. Yes, we are called to be strong in our faith but we are not called to cold and unfeeling.
Proverbs 16:7 – When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
A good biblical leader is more concerned with doing things the right way rather than what is going to lead to the most success. The end does not always justify the means.
Proverbs 16:8 – Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
- Ability to be mentored.
Leaders should not surround themselves with “yes men.” That shows insecurity in the leader. A good leader surrounds themselves with people who are smarter than he or she is. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Proverbs 16:13 – Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.
- Knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge is good, wisdom is better. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Good biblical leaders are constantly learning, growing and developing. If you feel you have already arrived in any subject (business, church, family) then you have allowed pride and arrogance to consume you.
Proverbs 16:16 – How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!
Many people have fallen because of pride. When a person thinks they are invincible they find out just how human they are. Proverbs 16:19 says that it is “better to be of lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
- Sensible and kind.
Being sensible makes a leader more effective. A good biblical leader uses words that are “gracious’ (Proverbs 16:24) and not “like a scorching fire.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Proverbs 16:22-23 – Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools. The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.
- Slow to anger.
The movies show the mean-spirited boss who yells for no reason and demoralizes the team. The slow to anger are better than the mighty.
Proverbs 16:32 – Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
So what can be learned from this? Are the similarities between good worldly leaders and good biblical leaders?
You can say yes. But you can also say no.
The good worldly leader is “self-confident” and manages themselves better than anyone else. The good biblical leader focuses on allowing God to direct his steps. From that point, the paths will never cross.
Moses led a nation, he was not a great communicator. Peter led the early church, he was not the most accountable. Jesus is God, Savior, and Lord yet he was not worried about being agile.
The disciples were not the best business and people leaders in the ancient world, yet Jesus chose them to leave a legacy.
The decisive point is seeking the Kingdom of God. If we are seeking that then God will provide what we need to lead.
It won’t always look pretty.
And the leader will make several mistakes along the way.
But if God is at the forefront of the leader’s life then the problems turn into good opportunities for God’s children.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.