30 Oct What The Bible Says About Leadership: Everything You Need to Know
Leadership is an important part of our human experience. Every area of our life falls under some type of leadership. As a parent, you are the leader of your family. However, you also have government authorities, church leaders, and other people of influence in leadership over you. As a child or teen, you may be a leader in your classroom, on your sports team, or in your youth group while submitting to the leadership of adults above you. In every area of life, it is important to develop a Biblical view of leadership.
What does the Bible say about leadership? The Bible has lots to say about leadership including characteristics of good leaders, how leaders should interact with the people in their care, and more. Most importantly, the Bible clearly states that every earthly leader must fall under the ultimate leadership and authority of the Lord. Only in this way can their leadership be truly effective.
So how do you become a leader in the Biblical sense of the word? Is everyone equipped for leadership or is it just certain personality types? How should leadership present itself in the family, church, workplace, and government? In this post, we will take a deep dive into what the Bible says about leadership. We will share practical tips, verses that support leadership throughout the Bible, and how to live out Biblical leadership in your everyday life.
Everything You Need to Know About Biblical Leadership
At one point or another, each of us will find ourselves in some position of leadership. Whether that is as the oldest sibling in your family, as the leader of a business or church, or as a government authority. However, more often than not, we find ourselves submitting to the leadership that has been placed over us by God Himself. Whether we are the one leading or the one following, we must maintain a Biblical perspective on leadership.
By developing a Biblical view of leadership, we can encourage those in positions of leadership, work towards better leadership in our own lives, and look for ways to promote Biblical leadership in our families, churches, workplaces, and our government. As Americans and as Christians, this should be of utmost importance.
What is Leadership?
If you search the internet for a definition of leadership, you will find countless articles from business authorities, universities, churches, and more. Leadership is a universal issue. It impacts every area of the human experience, regardless of religion or beliefs.
Merriam-Webster defines leadership as, “the office or position of a leader; capacity to lead; the act or an instance of leading”. Leadership is the ability an individual possesses to influence the people around them to achieve certain objectives or goals. A leader is an individual who sets the course for others, providing direction, and influencing the outcome of a situation.
Leadership is not always effective. Perhaps the individual in the position of leadership is ineffective in their role. Perhaps they are influencing the people around them to move in a way that is not beneficial to the greater good. Throughout history, we have seen numerous examples of poor and ineffective leaders.
We see practical examples of leadership in every area of our lives. From early childhood when children begin to look to older children for guidance, to the workplace dynamic, good leadership is essential to success.
What is Biblical Leadership?
It is not enough for leadership to be effective. Unfortunately, you can be an “effective” leader without a focus on Biblical perspectives or ideals. Biblical leadership is exemplified by an individual who seeks to follow Biblical ideals while influencing the people around them towards the greater good. It is leading with a reliance on the Word of God, remaining open to His voice, and allowing that to dictate your steps as a leader.
Biblical leadership is not just important in the church or in our family units. As Americans, we should strive to see Biblical leadership implemented in every area of our lives from our families to our nation’s government. Fortunately, the Bible has plenty to say about Biblical leadership. In the Bible, we find examples of good leaders and evil leaders, we find clear guidelines for establishing leaders in our lives.
Characteristics of Biblical Leadership
Throughout both the Old and New Testament, we hear stories of leaders. In the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, most of the leadership principles are applied to kings. However, these same principles can be applied to leaders in any area of life. In this section, we will take a look at some of the characteristics of Biblical leadership as supported through Scripture.
Leaders Prioritize Justice, Mercy, and Humility
Biblical leaders should prioritize justice, mercy, and humility. They should seek to put the needs of others before their own, always working to treat others in the way they wish to be treated.
Matthew 7:12 states, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”. This verse is known as The Golden Rule and not only applies to Christianity but to all of humanity. Leaders should be looking for ways to promote equality, liberty, and justice for all mankind.
Leaders Walk Alongside the People They Lead
Far too often, leaders live on a platform, separated from the people they lead. Whether in our families, churches, or workplaces, leaders often experience a higher quality of life, access to greater privileges, and an experience unlike the people surrounding them.
Biblical leaders should strive to walk alongside the people they lead. In doing so, they will be able to develop a better understanding of how to lead their flock and the true needs of their people. They will be able to more effectively lead once they are connected on a personal level with the people who look to them for guidance.
Jesus provides a great example of this leadership characteristic in Luke 22:26b-27, “Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”.
Leaders Love Their People Well
By living life alongside the people you are leading, you learn to love them well. You develop an appreciation for them, you understand their unique challenges and strengths. A leader who aspires to exemplify Biblical leadership must strive to love their people well by walking alongside and serving them every step of the way.
Leaders Display Important Qualities Outlined in Scripture
In 1 Timothy 3, we find a passage that is often referenced when looking for leaders in the church. 1 Timothy 2:3-7 reads, “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”
It continues, “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
These qualities are important in Biblical leadership. The leaders in our lives should be equipped to lead effectively in their unique position. While these character qualities may not apply to every leadership role (for example, leadership in the workplace), they are important to keep in mind.
We should look for our leaders to be self-controlled, hospitable, respectable, and above reproach from those who may wish to cause disgrace.
Leaders Rely on God for Direction
Biblical leaders should always rely on God for direction. This applies to every area of leadership from family leadership to leading our nation. Leaders who exemplify Biblical leadership are dedicated to spiritual disciplines in an effort to better develop their relationship with God.
They understand that God has placed them in their unique role of authority and that He alone continues to equip them for successful leadership.
Leaders Seek to Serve At All Times
Our greatest example of Biblical leadership on this earth comes from Jesus Himself. During His time on earth, He exemplified service in leadership. As a leader striving to exemplify Biblical leadership, you must follow the example of Jesus in this way. Far too often, leaders fall into the trap of becoming the one who is always being served.
As a leader, it is important to look for ways to serve your community, to engage with the people around you, and to encourage the people who are under your leadership.
Leaders Speak From the Overflow of Their Hearts
Matthew 15:18 says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Leaders often find themselves in a position of public communication. It is important to remember that as humans, we speak out of the overflow of our hearts. As a Biblical leader, your words should speak life into the people around you.
The words you speak should reflect the intimate relationship you have with Christ, always looking to encourage, support, and challenge your community. As a leader aspiring to Biblical leadership, speak life and light into the lives of everyone you meet.
Leaders Take Steps to Protect Themselves From Corruption
Now more than ever before, leaders in every area of life are falling to corruption. Church leaders and Christians are no more immune to this problem than those who are unbelievers. As a leader, it is important to realize that your position places you in the public eye. Additionally, there may be ill-meaning people trying to remove you from your place of leadership.
You must take actionable steps to protect yourself from corruption. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Biblical leaders must fight to protect their spiritual well-being, avoiding any appearance of corruption.
As a leader, it is wise to establish clear boundaries over every area of your life. Many respected Biblical leaders have rules such as never finding themselves alone in a room with a person of the opposite gender or having accountability partners for other areas of their life. While these boundaries may require extra work, it is well worth the effort to remain above reproach, especially in leadership.
Leaders Equip Others to Succeed
Biblical leaders should strive to equip others to succeed. Too often leaders try to claim glory or praise for themselves, afraid that positive attention on someone else may rob them of their leadership position. Biblical leaders should recognize that they can more effectively serve the Lord and the people around them when they partner with other believers.
Leadership easily becomes a dictatorship. By equipping others to succeed, and partnering with them in your leadership, you can more effectively serve your community while challenging yourself to grow in your own leadership position.
Leaders Provide Stability to The People Around Them
Proverbs 29:4 says, “By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.” A good leader who leads with Biblical principles should provide stability to the people around them. When a leader is rooted in the truth of the Scripture, they are able to lead with their eyes on Christ. This stability quickly translates into stability for the people who look to them for guidance.
These are, of course, just a few of the characteristics of Biblical leadership as outlined in the Bible. There are many more direct and indirect leadership lessons to be learned from the stories of both good and evil leaders in the Old and New Testaments.
Important Bible Verses About Leadership
Are you looking for a quick reference on Biblical leadership? Here are a few important Bible verses that cover the topic of leadership and the characteristics of a Biblical leader:
- Exodus 18:21
- Psalm 78:72
- Proverbs 27:23
- Proverbs 31: 8-9
- Matthew 20:26
- Luke 12:48
- Proverbs 11:14
- Proverbs 29:4
- Luke 22:26
- Acts 20:28
- Romans 12:3–8
- 1 Timothy 3:2–7
- 1 Timothy 4:12
- Titus 1:7–9
- Hebrews 13:7
- Hebrews 13:17
You can find more verses about Biblical leaders here.
Biblical Leadership in The Workplace
So, how should you exemplify Biblical leadership in the workplace? As Christians, we believe that our Biblical beliefs and moral convictions should dictate every area of our lives. In the workplace, you can exemplify Biblical leadership in the following ways:
- Remain strong in your religious convictions.
- Always remain above reproach.
- Serve alongside the team members in your leadership.
- Always lead with the best interest of the team in mind, not your own glory.
- Work as if working for the Lord, not for man.
- Honor the leadership above you, whether that be corporate leadership or the government.
These are just a few of the ways in which you can exemplify Biblical leadership in the workplace, regardless of your career or position.
Biblical Leadership in The Church
Biblical leadership in the church is often much less confusing to most people. However, just because someone holds a position of church leadership does not mean they display Biblical leadership. It is important to assess the characteristics that our church leaders exemplify.
If you are in a position of church leadership, it is important to pursue your relationship with Jesus, always checking yourself for areas of improvement. Seek to follow Jesus’ perfect example of Biblical leadership and exemplify the characteristics of Biblical leadership that are so clearly outlined in the pages of Scripture.
Biblical Leadership in The Family
As Christians, we must display Biblical leadership in our families. By implementing Biblical principles and beliefs in our children, we can encourage a future of Godly leaders. Through instilling Biblical characteristics and common sense rules for government, we can implement principles that will shape the future of our country.
So, how exactly can we exemplify Biblical leadership in our homes? The answer is similar to the way Biblical leadership is displayed in other areas of our life. As parents, we must seek to lead our family with humility, integrity, and service. By working with the greater good of our family in mind, we can show them what it means to lead.
In teaching our children what it means to be a Biblical leader, we equip them to identify the leaders in their lives who are worthy of their attention. By helping our children identify Biblical leaders from an early age, we provide them with a strong foundation for the future.
Biblical Leadership in The Government
Finally, how does Biblical leadership display itself in our government? One of the most challenging issues we face as Christians in America today is understanding how to honor our government while watching our country’s morals and Christian foundation seemingly crumble.
It is important to look for examples of Biblical leadership in every area of government from local to national leaders. By educating ourselves on candidates, their beliefs, and positions, we can identify Biblical leaders and do our part to vote them into office.
Biblical leaders in government are individuals with integrity. They hold strong to their convictions, promoting Biblical values in a way that encourages the greater good of our nation. They value the strong Christian foundation upon which our country was built and seek to restore those values to our nation’s political environment. Biblical leaders within our government work to ensure justice, liberty, and equality for all mankind. They realize that we are all human beings created in God’s image.
You can learn more about what the Bible actually says about government here.
Questions to Ask Yourself in Leadership
As mentioned previously, most of us will find ourselves in a position of leadership at one time or another. Whether this is in your family, in your workplace, or in a position of the government, it is important to constantly evaluate how strongly we are abiding by principles of Biblical leadership.
Here are a few questions to routinely ask yourself if you find yourself in a season of leadership:
Am I Caring for Those Closest to Me?
As leaders, it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters: our families and those who are closest to us. We can become so consumed by the big picture that we fail to devote time and attention to the people in our immediate vicinity. Because of this, families suffer, friendships fail, and leaders suffer incredible loneliness.
If you are in a position of leadership, routinely ask yourself if you are caring for and loving the people in your life who are closest to you. By investing time into these critical relationships, you provide yourself with stability, accountability, and partnership in leadership.
Am I Living Out Biblical Characteristics in My Leadership?
How effectively are you living our Biblical characteristics in your leadership role? Are you serving the people around you or have you risen to a position where you are no longer involved on a basic level? Are you walking hand-in-hand with your community or are you leading from a pedestal?
In your daily life, are you prioritizing spiritual disciplines that deepen your relationship with Christ, allowing you to lead more effectively? It can be hard to see these characteristics in your own life. For this reason, it may be helpful to ask your spouse, co-leader, or a close friend to assess your leadership and provide you with insight on how you are effectively leading.
Am I Relying on God to Direct My Leadership?
With success in leadership comes a dangerous self-reliance. If you are experiencing a season of easy, successful leadership, it can be tempting to abandon your complete reliance on God. Regularly assess if you are relying on God alone to direct your leadership. You should constantly seek His will on every decision you must make within your role. Only in doing so will you be able to lead effectively.
Am I Encouraging the People Under My Care?
How are you supporting those in your community? Are you taking steps to encourage their spiritual growth? How are you leading them towards success in their roles? A Biblical leader will seek to encourage the growth of the people around them. They will understand that another’s success will not diminish their own. In fact, success in the people around you is a great reflection of your success as a leader.
Am I Looking For Ways to Grow As a Leader?
As a leader, it is important that you are consistently looking for areas in which to grow. Are you shying away from important questions such as the ones mentioned in this section? Do you push back when receiving constructive criticism or advice? Biblical leaders are always looking for ways to grow both in their personal life and in their leadership.
Am I Called to Hold This Position of Leadership?
It is important to have a sensitivity to your calling of leadership. Some seasons of leadership may last a lifetime (leading your family, for example) while others may be for only a season. Ask yourself if you believe God is still calling you to hold your position of leadership. Do you see that you are effective in leading your community?
Are there ways in which you are failing to lead them towards Christ? Are you experiencing burn-out in your position? By developing a sensitivity to your calling, you will be able to lead effectively in this season.
Prioritizing Biblical Leadership in America
As Christians and Americans, it is important that we continue to prioritize Biblical leadership in our country. Only in doing so will we be able to remain steadfast to the strong Christian foundation on which our country was built. It is also important to remember that Biblical leadership can and should be exemplified in every area of life. These principles are not only applicable to significant positions of leadership but also in everyday roles.
Whatever season of leadership you find yourself in currently, we can prioritize Biblical leadership by educating ourselves on the characteristics of a Biblical leader, and working to exemplify them in our own lives.
Should we submit to leaders who are ungodly? As Christians, we believe that God has placed leaders in authority over us. Whether they display Biblical leadership or not, it is our responsibility to respect and honor their leadership. There is only one instance when civil disobedience is permitted in Scripture. This is if the leadership is commanding us to do something that compromises our religious convictions. In America, we are privileged to not face this type of leadership in our daily lives. However, it is a stark reality for many believers in other countries. It is important to realize that one day, we could experience a more direct impact of this type of leadership as well.
Submitting to ungodly or ineffective leadership may be challenging or nearly impossible. However, it is important to do our best to honor God in this way. In these situations, we must also do our best to encourage Biblical leadership. We can do so by working to improve the quality of leadership in all areas of our lives.