Leadership matters. We applaud leadership skills like decisiveness in decision-making and the ability to plan strategically, and we readily recognise good organisational skills in our leaders.
We are also quick to note when leadership gets it wrong. We may notice a lack of consultation before a decision is made or a short-term solution with no apparent long-term plan.
It is fairly easy to list skills that leaders require, through recognising what we admire in some leaders and what is lacking in others. But what does the Bible say about leadership? Paul gives some great leadership advice.
Read Romans 12 and make a list of the leadership skills that you notice. The passage addresses teamwork, humility and a sacrificial attitude, and what else?
Discuss what those attributes look like, sound like and feel like today.
The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom for leaders. Solomon (see Proverbs 1:1–7 NRSV) begins by listing the purpose of the book as:
- For learning about wisdom and instruction
- For understanding words of insight
- For gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity, etc
Read a few random verses of Proverbs and ask, ‘What wisdom can I gain from this advice?’
Alternatively, here are some suggestions:
- Read Proverbs 4:23 on self-reflection
- Read Proverbs 11:14 on guidance and wise counsel
- Read Proverbs 12:19 on truthfulness
- Read Proverbs 29:4 on justice
- Read Proverbs 29:14 on fairness
You may want to compare different Bible versions to see how wisdom is expressed in each translation.
The Bible contains many men and women who functioned in positions of leadership and responsibility, sometimes alongside one another. We know of the accomplishments of leaders such as David and Solomon. Miriam and Huldah are lesser-known leaders. Miriam was recognised as a leader alongside her brother Moses and was a spiritual leader as well as a prophet.
Read Micah 6:4 and Exodus 15:20,21 to hear of Miriam’s leadership.
What does Exodus 15 suggest about godly leaders and where they point those they lead?
Huldah was a prophet. When the Book of the Law was discovered during temple renovations, King Josiah sought guidance that would lead the nation to repentance and a fresh commitment to God’s covenant. Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, or Huldah could have been consulted. Huldah was chosen to help lead the nation back to God.
Read 2 Kings 22 and describe Josiah’s leadership and the implications of his attitude.
In the New Testament, we hear of the leadership of apostles, prophets, deacons, church planters, leaders of house churches and evangelists.
Read Romans 16:1–15, Luke 2:25–38, Acts 21:7–14 and Colossians 4 and consider how these leaders enact their leadership. How can we honour our leaders today?
Priscilla and Aquila were a missionary couple. Paul lived and worked with this leadership team, and they travelled with Paul.
Read Acts 18:24–28. How do Priscilla and Aquila show leadership regarding Apollos?
Importantly, what does Jesus teach us about leadership?
The mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus asking for a favour. Her request was about status and recognition, and what mother doesn’t want the best for her children? However, Jesus turned the request, and the subsequent grumbling of the disciples, into a lesson on leadership.
Read Matthew 20:20–28. How would you describe Jesus’ leadership style? How can you model this in your home, at your work, in your play and in the community?
To conclude, read Philippians 2:1–5 and turn the passage into a prayer.
Dr Tania Nelson is LCANZ Executive Officer – Local Mission.