What's the Bible Say About Leadership?
In a previous study I did on biblical leadership, I found three characteristics that define characters in the Bible we think of as leaders. The majority of biblical leaders have one, two, or all three of these characteristics. Servant. Shepherd. Steward. Funny how they all start with “S.” I usually cringe when preachers do that.
The Bible doesn’t really talk about these characters being good leaders. We do that. It talks about their character and the qualities they had that God used at a certain time to lead His people. It is also not shy about pointing out their flaws (Moses-murder; David-unfaithful to his wife, murder; Paul-persecutor of Christians). This leads me to believe I ought to stop worrying about becoming a leader so God can use me, and I ought to serve, steward, and shepherd the things, resources, and people in my sphere of influence faithfully.
Servant is pretty self-explanatory. This is a person who never puts himself first. He places himself last, in fact. A servant is always ready to sacrifice. He is about humility. He serves like Mother Teresa.
Shepherd needs a little more explaining. You probably don’t know any shepherds. I don’t. This person guides and protects. He always has the best interest of the sheep in mind. He does what is necessary to allow the sheep to thrive. He provides food, and he keeps predators away.
Steward sounds old. A steward is a person who is entrusted with something of value by another person. He is a loyal manager. He understands what he has been given to use in an honorable way. He knows he will have to give an account to how he handled what he was given. On a side note, we often find ourselves complaining about what we don’t have, or maybe you’re thinking that you don’t have anything to steward. What about life itself? You have time, talents, and treasures. How you are stewarding them? Check out Jesus’ parable about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.
The theme that runs through all three of these qualities yet is dying to self. You can’t be a good servant if you want to be first. You can’t be a good shepherd if your needs come first. And you can’t be a good steward if you act like you own everything you’ve been given.
Instead of constantly thinking about how I can expand my leadership, I want to think about becoming a better servant, shepherd, and steward. We read the Bible and call people who have these qualities leaders because God used them; but he used them because they were servants, shepherds, and stewards (when they were at their best, anyway).
If this is true, then we all have leadership potential. But not in the way our culture tells us we have leadership potential. Our culture says leaders make the biggest splash in the sea of influence. The way the Bible says leader make sure God makes the biggest splash in the sea of influence.