Leadership and the Bible How to Study Leadership in the Bible
Today’s leadership lesson is from the Bible.
Based on my personal study of scriptures, I have seen six ways one can study leadership as taught in the Bible. Before I share these with you, I think one key question must be answered: Is the calling of every believer to be an effective leader?
Are Christians Called to Be Leaders?
Romans 12:8 says, “if your gift…is to lead, do it diligently.” From that, one can understand that some are gifted with leadership, and others are not. However, according to Matthew 28:19 every Christian is commanded to, “go and make disciples of all nations.” I believe every Christian is charged to reach out and touch the lives of others for Christ, to help the poor and needy, to help the destitute and forsaken, and to uplift the brethren of the faith. Therefore, in our definition of leadership—impacting the lives of others—every Christian is a leader.
It is true that not every Christian is called to have a leadership position, meaning a position of authority over others. But I firmly believe that each of us is called to reach out to those in our circle of influence. Even if you are only called to reach out to your spouse or kids, then that is your leadership calling.
So how do we scour the bible with an eye for leadership? How do we glean from it how to become a better leader of men?
Six Ways to Study the Bible for Leadership
The Bible’s core thrust and purpose is not a theoretical thesis on how to lead. It is instead the story of God and man, how Adam fell and how Jesus came to save us. Moreover the Bible’s core message is how individuals can and must be renewed, reborn, changed from the inside to become higher versions of ourselves aiming to pattern our character after God Himself.
The Bible is also full of stories of great leaders. Actually, most of the Bible is one example after another of leaders—good ones and bad ones—how they lived, how they failed, and what they taught. The message of God has always been carried by people, leaders who reach the hearts of men and women. I believe ultimately we are called to be changed, and then aim to bring that same change, with God’s help, to others. We are to lead them. Therefore, the entire Biblical message is summarized in two steps: (1) Be changed, and (2) Reach others. This is the core essence of what leadership is. First go, then take others with you.
I hope I have made the case that Christians must be leaders. Further, leaders can look to the Bible for direction. Here is how to study the Bible from a leadership perspective. I have a few Biblical references as examples. I hope as you read the Word you will mine it for additional examples. Meanwhile, I hope these six steps will sharpen your mind as you read them.
- Look for verses directly referencing leadership.
Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…if it is to lead, do it diligently. NIV
Psalm 78:72 He [David] cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands. NLT
Matthew 20:25,26 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” NIV
1 Peter 5:1-3 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. KJV
- Look for passages and books addressed to church leaders.
The Epistle to Timothy—The young pastor mentored by the apostle Paul.
- Look for verses addressed to kings.
Proverb 20:28 Loyalty and truth preserve the king, and he upholds his throne by righteousness. NASB
- Adhere to the tenants of the Christian faith. Following the highest calling of faith makes us people whom others want to follow. How about following the well known passage from I Corinthians 13 on love? (For more on that, check out my post, Extracting Gems for Leaders from 1 Corinthians 13)
- Seek wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ NASB
- Study leaders. The Bible is full of them. Here are ten of them: Abraham, Joshua, Moses, Nehemiah, Joseph, David, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul. As you study their lives, what lessons can you learn? Here are a few examples of lessons I see from their lives.
They waited while obedient.
They studied the scriptures, sought wisdom, and lived righteously.
They trusted God above all else.
They led with wisdom, courage, and humility.
Their greatest love was God. He was always first, not their vision or position, not their wealth or glory.
They were ready to sacrifice it all for their calling.
As a believer, if you aim to reach people more effectively, ultimately seek God’s supernatural touch on your life. He says, ask. Have you asked in your prayer time to become a better, wiser, stronger, more effective leader? Have you studied, listened, and humbled yourself at the feet of greater leaders?
For Further Reading: