1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)
A Leader Must Have Vision
A leader must be able to see the way and know where they are going. If not, then you have the proverbial blind leading the blind. A parent leading their children must have a vision for where they want their children to end up. A teacher leading students must have a vision of what they want the students to learn and how to apply it. A business owner must have a vision for where the company is going and what its goals are.
Matthew 15:14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” (NKJV)
Leaders provide the vision of what must be done, who must do it, and how to get it done. Without this vision, the best you can hope for is to go around and around in circles, but the reality is that without vision people and efforts will deteriorate to the lowest common denominator.
Look at all the great leaders of the Bible and you will see that they each had a clear vision: Moses leading the Israelites, David leading his armies, Paul taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, or Jesus leading his disciples. Each knew exactly where they were going and what end result was needed.
A Leader Must Be Able to Communicate Effectively
A leader must be able to effectively communicate vision, needs, encouragement, instruction, and discipline and rebuke as needed. Communication takes many forms whether speaking, writing, through body language, or through attitude.
The people we lead are not mind readers, so we cannot expect them to be led if we are not effectively communicating as leaders. Truly effective communication originates in the heart of a Godly leader who is foremost concerned about how or what God wants done, rather than what benefits them personally. Effective communication starts in the heart of a leader who is a servant first. The greatest oratory skill in the world does not overcome the negatives of the self-serving leader. Great salesmanship that manipulates those around them to get what they want done will produce temporary results at best, and inevitably disloyalty and conflict.
James 3:2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (NKJV)
While this verse is primarily speaking of taming the tongue on a personal level in order to keep from sinning, it is very applicable for the leader to learn to carefully measure his words in the process of giving direction to his followers. Learning to be deliberate and thoughtful concerning our communication will go far in keeping the Godly leader from troubles that arise when a “shoot from the hip” methodology (no pun intended) is used.
Effective communication for the Godly leader starts with the leader himself and his communication with God.
A Leader Must Be Decisive
In a day and age where we have lost our moral compass and ethical foundation, decisiveness is both more rare and hard to accomplish (without a Biblical foundation). To be decisive, the Godly leader must have a firm grasp of God’s Word, a clear understanding of right and wrong, and a Holy-Spirit-led conscience that does not fear either results or the world’s opinion.
Being decisive often goes against the popular mood or societal norms. Being decisive – especially about moral or ethical matters – quite frequently brings a leader in conflict both with those he leads and those who observe. The Godly leader will be decisive regardless because his decision is based on what he knows God would have had to do. In making that decision he has no fear of a man’s opinion of the decision.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? (NKJV)
A Leader Must Not Be Fearful
That verse in Psalms also reminds us that a Godly leader should not be fearful. The fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of opinion, or fear of losing popularity can render a leader obsolete and ineffective.
Fear is like a cancer that will spread through the leader to his followers and destroy them both. A Godly leader derives their strength and purpose from God and humbly, but without apology, fears no man’s opinion of their leadership. A Godly leader understands that God is sovereign and in control of all things and so he has no fear of the future or the unknown.
A Godly leader believes that all things are in
God’s hands and so he fears no man’s hands.
A Leader Must Be Aware of and Understand the Power and Responsibility of Their Influence
I have known people who have great leadership qualities and naturally attract people to themselves. I have also known some of those same people who use that natural attraction and leadership gift to simply get out of people what benefits them personally.
It is the responsibility of the Godly leader to be aware of the effect they have on people. The naturally gifted leader will draw others to them who want to emulate them and look to them for their example. The charismatic leader creates a natural magnetism where others simply want to be like them. This is a powerful gift that comes with a serious responsibility. The Godly leader must realize that their followers look to them as an example, and many of them actually want to be like the leader. There is nothing wrong with this as we see in our theme verse: “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” The problem comes when the leader either does not care about the fact that people want to be like them or uses that fact as an opening for self-serving manipulation.
You cannot have it both ways. You cannot be a leader and not care about the influence you have on others. You cannot be a leader and claim like the famous Charles Barkley comment: “I didn’t ask to be their role model.” If you are a leader in any capacity, you are a role model, you do influence people, and you WILL be held responsible for it.
A Leader Must Cultivate Selflessness
A leader must demonstrate and cultivate selflessness. The leader cannot expect selflessness from those he leads if he does not demonstrate it himself or herself. Leaders’ choices, lifestyles, and priorities must reflect selflessness or no amount of “saying but not doing” can disguise a lack of selflessness.
A Leader Must Develop Discernment for Themselves and Those Who Follow
Discernment is the ability to know what is right. Discernment is sorely lacking at all levels today. Discernment primarily starts with a knowledge of God’s Word that allows the discerning leader to filter situations, circumstances, and questions through biblical knowledge and application. Discernment is the ability to see through the rhetoric, emotion, and politics to get to the real issues and determine what is right and what is wrong, what is truth and what is propaganda or error.
A Leader Must Avoid Hypocrisy
It is hard to add much more to that sentence as it is plain enough alone. A leader who is exposed as a hypocrite at best does damage to their effectiveness as a leader and at worst destroys it totally. A leader must live by the same standards he presents to those who follow. There is no amount of smoke and mirrors, showmanship, or tap dancing that can rescue a leader from blatant hypocrisy (I say blatant hypocrisy because this is not to be confused with saying that a leader must be perfect and can never make a mistake, be guilty of bad judgment, or even have a short-term lapse in judgment).
A Leader Must Be Firm and Fair
A Godly leader must be firm. They cannot be wishy-washy or wavering. Those who follow the Godly leader must be sure they will not be victim to a vacillating weakling who sticks their finger in the air to find out which way the wind is blowing to determine directions or decisions.
A Godly leader must be fair, not showing self-serving partiality or simply ignoring fairness because it is inconvenient or difficult. The Godly leader will find much more receptiveness to correction and redirection when the recipient feels that the leader is fair and balanced in their judgment and in delivering both rebuke and praise.
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Tomorrow we’ll wrap up the series by taking a look at a list of practical leadership principles and reminders that will be useful to you in carrying out the daily responsibility of leadership.
A leader imitates Christ so that those who follow them will become more Christ-like.
Lord God, help us to be Godly leaders in all that we do whether it’s as parents, mentors, doing business or teaching. Help us to realize that we are all leaders in some way to some degree. Help us to want to be Godly leaders and imitate Christ as others imitate us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: A leader must have vision, be able to communicate clearly and effectively, and be decisive when all around them others are not. A leader must demonstrate selflessness, cultivate discernment, and completely avoid hypocrisy. A leader should imitate Christ as others imitate them.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?