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Biblical Leadership is About Character Development

Biblical Leadership starts with a strong character. A person can have many skills, yet without a fully developed character he/she will not be able to lead people in the direction they need to go. Have you ever noticed that many of the great leaders in the Bible went through a wilderness experience before they were promoted to a place of leadership? Joseph spent 13 years in captivity before he was promoted to second in command of all Egypt. Moses spent 40 years in Midian herding sheep before God appeared to him and commissioned him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. David spent a decade running from King Saul, living in the wilderness and Philistine country before he was promoted to King of Israel. John the Baptist came out of the wilderness and began preaching. Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the Devil before he began his ministry. These wilderness experiences show that God is very concerned about the character development of His leaders. God is willing to put off His agenda in order to grow and develop the characters of those who He has called to lead His people.

Self Worth and Biblical Leadership

The first character trait a leader needs is a strong affirmation of who they are in Christ. If they are not convinced that they are a person of worth and have a healthy self-esteem, a leader may use their position of power to satisfy their deep-rooted insecurities. For instance, if a person is insecure in themselves they may not be able to make the decisions that are necessary for fear of hurting someone's feelings. On the other hand, their insecurity could cause them to be a dominant figure, not for the sake of the organization but just for the sake of them feeling that they are in control and have dominance. Both of these are unhealthy examples, and do not follow the the way of biblical leadership.

Jesus had a strong affirmation of who He was before He began His leadership and ministry. God the Father affirmed that He was well pleased with Jesus as He was baptized by John. (Matthew 3:17) The important thing to note in this scenario is that Jesus had not done public ministry at all before this point. God was pleased with who Jesus was, rather than what He did. All leaders need this confidence within themselves to know that their worth is ultimately attained from who they are, rather than what they accomplish. It is very easy to fall into the trap of judging oneself based on accomplishment. Many times leaders get discouraged when they judge themselves in such ways, because many times circumstances that are beyond their control can occur to hinder them from reaching the goals and visions they have set. A leader should always realize that they always have control of who they are, despite outside circumstances; this judgment is a much fairer analysis of self-worth rather than basing it on accomplishment alone.

Leaders Must Be Able to Deal with Failures

Many Biblical leaders in the Old and New Testament seemed to fail miserably, but without their leadership God's plan would not have been accomplished. Noah for instance, was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years and only converted eight people in all. His self-worth couldn't have come from his success but must have come from his deep relationship with God. Moses faced many failures while leading the Israelites to the promised land. In fact, he didn't even get to lead them in once they got there. His self-worth had to come from his intimate relationship with God which allowed him to continue on as a great leader for forty years out in the wilderness.

The apostle Paul had many great successes in his ministry but he had an equal if not more amount of failures. Everywhere he went he met opposition to his message. He was jailed, whipped, stoned and left for dead by the very people he so desperately wanted to convert to Christ. Paul even went as far as to say that he himself would rather be cursed so that his own countrymen, the people of Israel could be saved if it were possible. (Romans 9:3) Yet they were the ones persecuting him and rejecting his message. It is no wonder that Paul's major theme in his epistles is what it is to be "in Christ". Paul had an extremely good understanding of who he was in Christ which allowed him to overcome his failures and to become possibly the greatest biblical leader of all time. He trained other Biblical leaders to follow his example and gave them instruction on what Bible leadership is all about.

Biblical Leadership is About Trust

In Biblical Leadership, trust is probably the greatest characteristic that a leader must build. Without trust people will not follow the leaders vision; they will not put forth their full efforts, and therefore the organization will never move in the direction a leader desires for it to move. Trust is built out of a strong character. First of all, the leader must trust him/herself to lead effectively. Their confidence will be evident to others. If God has entrusted a person with a leadership position they must trust God's judgment and lead confidently. Second, this trust must be developed through persistence, persistence, and more persistence! The leader cannot sway from vision to vision and plan to plan, but must stay on track with what they have spoken and communicated with the people. If a leader is not committed to seeing the vision through to its completion, they should never even mention it to those they are leading. Nothing causes a loss of trust more than a leader that's not committed to completing their own vision. If a leader shares a vision once and fails to follow through, it will cause doubt in the people concerning any new vision the leader comes up with.

Nehemiah was a man with a vision to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah took his task and vision very seriously. His focus caused the wall to be built in record time, but it wasn't with out threats or without set backs. Nehemiah would not be satisfied until the wall was completed. Those under his leadership saw his tenacity and it spread. The people were working with swords at their sides from sunrise until the stars came out at night. (Nehemiah 4) It was Nehemiah's persistence to see the vision accomplished that motivated the people to work so hard in such dangerous circumstances.

Biblical leadership not only builds trust through persistence but is also transparent. The people know exactly who they are, what they stand for, and what their position is. This is done through effective communication. People should be able to guess what a leaders move will be in different situations based on the character he/she has established and demonstrated to the people. This type of trust brings safety and stability when treading through uncertain waters of change.

Biblical Leaders Keep Relationship with God First

In biblical leadership, a leaders character is extremely important to their effectiveness and can only be maintained through developing a strong spiritual center. Leaders must set aside time in their busy days to keep Christ at the center of their hearts through the practice of the spiritual disciplines. Prayer, worship, Bible reading, etc, are essential in being an effective leader. These spiritual disciplines will give the leader the affirmation of who they are in Christ, it will resolve inner conflicts, it will help them grow in their emotional wisdom, and build trust with those around them. In biblical leadership a leader must never allow themselves to become so busy that they lose contact with their relationship to God.

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