1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)
A Leader Must Be a Servant
The typical image of a leader today is the person who is upfront, sits in the first row, dines at the head of the table, enjoys VIP treatment, gets the best office, and generally is “first.” This worldly idea is the opposite of God’s idea of a leader. It does not mean a leader cannot have a nice office, or sit up front, or even enjoy the hospitality of those he leads, but it does mean that he is not leading to get those things and that he does not primarily care about those things.
A Godly leader thinks of his followers first and is willing to sacrifice getting the best for himself to give the best to them.
Matthew 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (NKJV)
If there is a single point that is the complete opposite of what the world says about leadership, this would probably be it. In today’s world, there is no doubt who is “the greatest among us” if we look at the number of people who have people to serve them. The Godly leader will, by default, be much more subdued than the worldly leader because they will be seeking to serve others rather than expecting to be served.
The Godly leader serves their employees by training, mentoring, guiding, and managing them in a way that seeks their greatest good and success. The Godly leader serves their family, demonstrating by example how the Lord came to serve us. The Godly leader serves their students by teaching them through their own life about sacrifice and putting others before them.
1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (NKJV)
We live in a world today that could be easily characterized by the description that everyone is “seeking their own.” What’s in it for me? What do I get out of it? Does it make me look good? Does it make me money? Very very few people in the world care about another’s well-being as much or before their own. Sadly, in this modern age of the affluent church, professing Christians do not appear to have a much higher standard.
Granted, it is a balance between taking care of the obvious necessities and needs that we each have, while truly having a spirit and heart that actively looks out for the well-being of those around us. It is all the more important for a Godly leader to demonstrate – purposefully and obviously – to those they lead this attitude and characteristic of being concerned about the good of those around them. A leader must demonstrate this in action, priorities, and communication. A truly successful, Godly, servant-hearted leader will be characterized and known as someone who takes care of the people around him.
A Leader Must Be Uncompromising in Truth and Generous with Liberty
A Godly leader must learn and know the difference between essentials and liberty. In the areas where conviction and commitment are needed, the Godly leader must determine to stand strong and be unmovable in the face of peer pressure, political correctness, and persecution. A Godly leader must not be seen as wishy-washy or wavering concerning things that are black and white. They must become the anchor of steadfastness in truth to which followers can grasp hold and know that they too are firm in those convictions.
However, a Godly leader should never bind his personal opinion where God has not made something absolute. A leader demonstrates by example that freedom and liberty were purchased by Christ for all and not just a privileged few. A Godly leader must not be afraid to allow his followers liberty in those things that do not call for concrete conviction.
Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (NKJV)
The waist is the center of balance, the foundation of a person’s body; if it is weak, then the whole body is weak. The Godly leader will strengthen and support himself by learning God’s truth, which will create in him a strong foundation. Having learned the truth, the leader will then be more confident in allowing and cultivating liberty because it is no threat to truth.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (NKJV)
A Godly leader seeks to free his followers from all types of bondage whether it be legalism, political correctness, bad habits, or poor thinking. One of the greatest blessings and benefits that we have as Christians is our liberty in Christ. It is also one of the most forsaken and abused blessings that we have. A Godly leader will learn and understand what is essential, versus that which God has allowed us personal liberty and room for varying understanding. A Godly leader will learn that liberty is not a threat to essential Godly truths.
A Leader Must Cultivate Discipline in Their Own Life and the Lives of Those They Lead
Personal spiritual discipline is a fading concept in today’s world. Much of society applies its efforts for discipline in the pursuit of self-interest and self-promotion. Of course there is nothing wrong with the athlete who is disciplined in training, unless that same athlete neglects spiritual discipline. There’s nothing wrong with the musician who disciplines himself to learn to play an instrument, unless that musician neglects spiritual discipline. There’s nothing wrong with the businessman who is disciplined and learning everything about his industry and market, unless that same businessman neglects spiritual discipline.
There is nothing wrong with the leader who is disciplined in learning management, communication, or organizational skills unless that same leader neglects spiritual discipline.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. (NKJV)
To win the prize in a race, an athlete must be disciplined in their training and execution. Likewise, a Godly leader must run the race of leadership in such a way as to win the prize. What is the prize they seek? The prize is having followers who, because of their leadership, have become more Christ-like as well as successful in their responsibilities.
A leader teaches discipline by being disciplined.
A leader who does not discipline themselves to correctly run the race cannot hope to have those who follow be properly disciplined. A leader teaches discipline by being disciplined. There are no shortcuts, no rah-rah speeches, and no training seminars that will allow a leader to be lazy and undisciplined and have followers who are not.
Acts 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (NKJV)
A major key to personal discipline is the word “daily.” Every single day, a Godly leader must work towards disciplining each area of their life. Taking one day at a time allows us to escape the regrets of the past and not be overwhelmed by the future. Daily Bible study, daily prayer, daily education, daily exercise, and daily effort are a necessity for the Godly leader.
Tomorrow we will take a rapid-fire bullet-point look at a list of more characteristics necessary for effective Godly leadership.
A leader imitates Christ so that those who follow them will become more Christ-like.
Lord God, help us to be a servant to those we lead, to be uncompromising in truth while generous with liberty, and help us to make a daily effort to discipline our lives so that we may be the Godly leaders You have called us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: A Godly leader is quite opposite of what the world teaches about leadership. A Godly leader is a servant to those they lead. A Godly leader is uncompromising in truth while allowing liberty where God allows liberty. A Godly leader is personally disciplined and seeks to cultivate and teach discipline to those around them. In other words, a Godly leader is all about others, and not about self – whereas the typical worldly idea of leadership is one of personal elevation through learning how to manipulate others while appearing to have their best interests at heart. A Godly leader truly does put others before themselves without hidden agenda or manipulation.
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?