What is Biblical Leadership?
Have you ever witnessed someone who was an amazing leader? Maybe they were your boss, your parent, or a team leader. What was it that made that leader so memorable? More than likely it was their character. Maybe it was how they carried themselves or spoke to others. Or perhaps these notable leaders possessed qualities such as humility, thoughtfulness, fortitude, and honesty, qualities that are a must for successful leadership.
The Bible has a lot to say about what makes a good leader. I believe the Bible is the greatest book on leadership ever written. Throughout the Bible, we find guidance on how to lead and how to follow. Some of the greatest leaders were individuals that knew when to lead and when to follow (or, as some may say, when to get out of the way).
God is the ultimate leader—the King of kings—who can be trusted to lead us in all circumstances. So, if you want to be a better leader, start with your Bible.
“I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there; I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (VOICE)
So, what are some of the characteristics of Biblical leaders? Let’s take a look at a few of the prominent attributes of godly leaders.
Biblical Leaders are Honorable
The Bible is very specific when listing qualifications for leadership. Biblical leaders are held to a higher standard. If a leader is to align herself with God’s Word, she must be exceptionally strong in character and morals. Nancy Beach states, “Character is fundamentally the underbelly of leadership – both who we are when no one is looking and how we relate with others.”
“He should also be respected for his character and known as an honorable person by people outside of the church so as to avoid the trips, traps, and pitfalls of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:7 (VOICE)
Leaders are respected due to their character. It is challenging to lead when you are not seen as trustworthy. Honorable leaders do the right thing and live by the Golden Rule.
“This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12 (VOICE)
The principle of The Golden Rule is reciprocity. Believers are to heed to God’s commands in their service to others, leading by example.
God chose Deborah to fulfill His purpose due to her honesty and obedience. Deborah used her gifts to honor God. She was a courageous leader at a time when women were seldom placed in leadership positions. Deborah served as a judge with the ability to influence the people of Israel. Before her appointment as a judge, Deborah spent her time serving her family and community. She was obedient in the midst of her everyday life before God placed her in a position of leadership.
It is important to understand, “The opportunity to do something great for God is often preceded by everyday responsibilities faithfully performed” (CSB Study Bible for Women). Deborah’s faithfulness to God was demonstrated through her willingness to praise God regardless of her assignment. She led the people of Israel with strength, humility, and bravery. Deborah led by example.
Biblical Leaders are Humble
Have you heard the phrase, “serving is the new leading?” Biblical leaders serve. They are unassuming and humble. The opposite of prideful, humble leaders are God-centered and follower-focused.
“Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others.” Philippians 2:3 (VOICE)
Leaders choose to do the right thing for their followers and not their own selfish or prideful desires. When we willingly choose humility over pride, God’s purposes are accomplished.
Abigail was admired for her excellent character. She was described as quick-witted and a problem solver. Abigail was also known for her modesty. We read in 1 Samuel 25:23-24 (VOICE), “When Abigail saw David, she dropped quickly from her donkey and fell to the ground in front of him, bowing. Abigail (at David’s feet): My lord, any guilt here falls on me. Please let me, your servant, speak, and may you hear the words I speak.”
These verses illustrate Abigail’s humility. She did not waver in her decision to do the right thing. Abigail was not afraid to humble herself before King David. She placed others’ safety before her own and, due to her modesty, succeeded in saving her people. God’s purpose prevailed.
“Your boast becomes a prophecy of a future failure. The higher you lift up yourself in pride, the harder you’ll fall in disgrace.” Proverbs 16:18 (TPT)
Biblical Leaders are Altruistic
Biblical leaders show concern for the needs of others. Altruistic leaders give generously to those in need. Jesus is the perfect example of godly altruism. Jesus was a leader who served selflessly out of love for humankind. He gave His time, resources, and love.
Paul stated that giving should be done from a “heart attitude,” an expression of love and gratitude to God.
“But I will say this to encourage your generosity: the one who plants little harvests little, and the one who plants plenty harvests plenty. Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled ‘yes’ because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say ‘no,’ but this isn’t the way God wants it. For we know that ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (VOICE)
Dorcas, or Tabitha, was a woman who honored God through serving and acts of service to help those in need. She ministered to the poor and is the only woman in the Bible to be described as a disciple of Christ. She was not one of the twelve, but she was a follower of Christ. What a legacy!
“In a nearby coastal city, Joppa, there lived a disciple whose Aramaic name was Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek. She was a good woman—devotedly doing good and giving to the poor.” Acts 9:36 (VOICE)
Dorcas was devoted to doing good works. Through her devotion to Christ, upon her death, Peter prayed over her and she was restored.
“Peter asked them to leave the room; then he got on his knees. He prayed for a while and then turned to her body. Peter: Tabitha, get up! She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Giving her his hand, Peter lifted her up. Then he called in the other disciples—including the widows—and reintroduced them to their beloved friend. The news of this miracle spread throughout the city, and many believed in the Lord.” Acts 9:40-42 (VOICE)
I love that Dorcas was a doer of the word. Because of her obedience, it is said she offered hope and many believed in the Lord. We never know what our small acts of service may lead to but if we step out in obedience and use our gifts to serve with our whole heart, God will show us the way.
Serving Others Through Biblical Leadership
These women are just a few of the women leaders of the Bible that used their gifts to serve God. They served with honor, humility, and altruism. Each of these women placed the needs of others before themselves. In their commitment to God, they knew when to lead and when to follow. They are exceptional examples of biblical leaders.
This month as we explore biblical leadership and women leaders of the Bible, I hope you’ll join me in asking God to place us where we are needed. It is my prayer God will open doors for you that you never expected. I pray God will graciously provide for you and show you the way. And, if you are currently in a leadership position, I truly pray you are using your position for good and serving with a godly heart.
“So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:42-45 (NLT)
Keep on shining!