There are hundreds of thousands of teachings on leadership. Thanks to the internet, we have an endless stream of advice, leadership qualities, and pithy quotes. That’s what brought you here. It’s true that anyone can develop into a leader. However, I’ve recently been struck by how unique the experience of being a leader is.
Think about it. A leader is someone who guides a group of people through uncharted territory. A degree of newness is inherent in the definition. We long for advice because the experience of true leadership will always be a little daunting. It will always require courage because nobody has been the exact type of leader you are called to be. Isn’t that exciting?
Since there’s so much leadership advice out there, I think that it’s increasingly important to use the Scriptures as our cornerstone for Truth. Jesus possessed several praiseworthy leadership qualities while He was on earth. For the purposes of this blog, I’ve focused on six leadership qualities that have really affected me recently. We must ask ourselves: how can we radically represent Christ in our approach to leadership?
1. He Was a Listener
In all things, Jesus listened to the voice of God. Even though he was the Son of God, He was adamant to succumb to a higher authority in all things. How much more, then, should we receive direction from God as leaders? Check out the following verses:
“The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.” John 5:19
“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge.” John 5:30
“The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” John 14:10
We can see that Jesus, who was the greatest leader ever to live, submitted himself fully to God. How can you submit more fully to God in your position of leadership?
2. He Was a Servant
“The way you want others to treat you is how you should treat everyone else,” Luke 6:31, TPT.
Aside from loving God, Jesus instructs that the above command is the single most important rule we should practice. This wasn’t just lip service. Jesus’ lifestyle embodied this leadership quality in every single way. He makes it plain that “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Luke 6:31, NIV.)
A bigger leadership role equates to more responsibility and service. So even though it’s difficult sometimes, I can’t help but love how counter-cultural Jesus’ model of leadership and success is.
3. He Created Boundaries
Have you ever wondered why Jesus had disciples? They were friends, yes, but it wasn’t exactly an equal relationship. They referred to him as Teacher and literally followed him around. I think that part of what made Jesus a good leader was how He intentionally poured into others. He taught to large crowds, but He only developed a close relationship with a select group of people. Within the twelve disciples, He chose three to be his inner circle.
This shows me two things. Firstly, Jesus had an acute awareness of who He was called to minister to. Secondly, Jesus was careful about who He let get close to Him. Christians don’t usually think this way. We assume that the Christlike thing to do is to be completely accessible. This is a recipe for burnout and lack of focus. Executing discernment and implementing boundaries is a perfectly Biblical thing to do.
4. He Delegated
Jesus spent three years teaching His disciples. He laid the groundwork from the beginning when He said, “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Then, He let them watch His example and trusted them to minister to others (in extreme ways like supernatural healing!) There was no micromanaging. Then, He entrusted the disciples with their biggest task right before ascending into heaven. This is what we call the Great Commission:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus was such a good leader that He delegated the continuation of His mission into the hands of broken sinners like you and me. When we lead, we have to learn how to trust and let go. We must do the hard work of teaching and exemplifying, and when it’s time, we have to know when to release a task (or sometimes an entire company) into the hands of someone else.
5. He Was a Good Steward
Jesus was missionally-minded and knew that He was on earth with a purpose. He stewarded His mission to completion and didn’t let anything get in the way. Throughout Scripture, He encourages us to do the same. Jesus warns His disciples that, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more,” Luke 12:48.
We are meant to give every resource we have back to God with interest. Whether it’s time, relationships, position, finances, or the measure with which we’ve been spiritually poured into, I think most of us have abundance in one area or another. Typically, those are the areas where we are called to lead others. If you have been given an area of influence, God has a purpose for you being there. Like Jesus, we should be adamant about using our position in a manner worthy of our calling.
6. He Knew How to Practice Silence
In a world of chaos and busyness, Christlike leaders must cultivate moments of stillness with God. In many places, Scripture refers to how “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). It takes discipline, but the goal is that we would know how to abide with God and be in communion with Him at all times. I recommend taking periodic moments throughout the day to really listen and be still with God. If we don’t regularly engage in spiritual disciplines, I can say with 100% certainty that our leadership will suffer.
I love this quote by R.A. Torrey. He writes, “We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results.”
Taking time away from work to rest with God actually maximizes our productivity. Moreover, it endows us with power and leadership qualities that we couldn’t have otherwise.
I am confident that, with the power of the Holy Spirit, you can develop these leadership qualities in your own life. Which one of these leadership qualities spoke to you the most? Is there one that I didn’t list that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!