“Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal.” – Susan Ward
Whether you realize it or not, we are all called to lead. For some, your leadership responsibilities are limited to yourself and your home. For others it extends beyond the walls of your home possibly into your community, your job, or even your ministry. Regardless of where you find yourself, you have to lead.
A friend of mine, Jonathan Leath, wrote a book he titled You Only Lead One (YOLO). The point was, before you can lead others you have to learn how to lead yourself. The bottom line is that everyone leads in some fashion, be it great or small. Since leadership is important, how does Godly leadership fit into the equation?
There are many examples of Godly leadership in the Bible as God has always raised up men and women to lead others. When you study closely, you will discover these examples of leadership in the Bible can help you address all of life’s situations. Let’s examine some of these, because whether you lead one, a few, or many – we all have to lead. Why not get better at it?
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What Does the Bible Say about Godly Leadership?
The Bible is pretty clear about what Godly leadership looks like. There are portions of Scripture that talk about the qualifications of a leader in the church. There are also plenty of real-life examples of leadership in action. Since leadership happens inside and outside the church, these examples are good wherever you lead. Here is one passage that talks about the qualifications of a leader.
“An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong” (Titus 1:6-9).
If you possess these types of qualifications, would that make you a better leader? Clearly the answer is yes. Godly leadership like this can impact homes, communities, churches, businesses, schools, politics, sports – basically every area of life. If you want to know what type of leader God wants you to be, there is your answer. Remember this applies whether you are leading one or many.
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3 Examples of Godly Leadership
While there are many examples of Godly leadership in the Bible, there are some you are probably more familiar with than others. For our examples, I want to look at leaders that may be a little more obscure. I could talk about David, Moses, or Nehemiah, but I want to talk about three lesser-known leaders who make great examples of Godly leadership in the Bible.
You may be familiar with the story of Esther. However, there is no story of Esther without Mordecai. The short version is that there was a plot to destroy the Jews, and Mordecai got wind of the plot. What he recognized was the person who had the ability to help bring deliverance to the Jews was Esther. It was his responsibility to persuade her to use the position she had to make a difference.
That sounds like leadership to me. In one of the more popular set of verses in the Bible, here is what Mordecai told Esther.
“When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’” (Esther 4:12-14).
Mordecai’s words influenced Esther to take an action that she would have otherwise not taken. I would say that is a great example of Godly leadership.
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2. The Spirit-Filled Seven
Here is another example of Godly leadership in the Bible that sometimes gets overlooked. In the early church there was a problem. The Greek-speaking Jewish believers complained that their widows were being overlooked in the distribution of food when compared to the widows who were Hebrew-speaking. There was some level of favoritism going on. What was required for this situation was Godly leadership. Pay attention to the type of men they chose to handle this problem.
“’Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:3-6).
Look at what was necessary for these men to be qualified to carry out this task. They had to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. The reason this type of leadership was necessary is because they were not just passing out food; they were solving a potentially bigger problem. Their objective was to work with two groups of people from different cultures and make sure one did not feel slighted over the other. This problem would require the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, which is foundational to Godly leadership.
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3. Priscilla and Aquila
Priscilla and Aquila are an example of Godly leadership that was displayed or exhibited in a married couple. This was a Jewish couple who were deported from Rome. They eventually connected with Paul and became his partners in the ministry. Here are some examples of their leadership.
“He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26).
“The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house” (1 Corinthians 16:19).
Just so you know, the person they are talking about in Acts 18:26 is Apollos. If you remember the qualifications of a leader that we looked at earlier, you will see why this is a great example of Godly leadership in the Bible. Consider these two things:
“Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home” (Titus 1:8).
“He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong” (Titus 1:9).
Priscilla and Aquila were hospitable. They invited Apollos into their home and spent time explaining the truth to him. They were also able to build a church that met in their home. This is influence and leadership in action.
How Can I Be a Godly Leader?
If you want to be a godly leader, I encourage you to focus on the qualities that God identifies as necessary in a leader. Titus would be a good place to start, and there are other scriptures as well. You can look at the qualities and simply see how you measure up. If you see shortcomings, those are the areas that you can ask God to help you develop. Thankfully if God has called you to leadership, he will take the time to help you grow into it.
There are many different styles and forms of leadership. As people’s personalities are different, so are the leadership styles. Godly leadership is honest leadership that allows you to lead out of who you are. In other words, your leadership style should be authentic to you. While it is great to learn from others, you don’t have to try to be like others. Focus on who you are and allow God to develop you into the leader he has called you to be.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.