Many articles and books have been written about the necessary skills of a leader such as vision, initiative, follow-through, consensus building, and the like. However, two critical Christian qualities always seem to be left out. These aspects are clearly described in the Bible and manifested in three of its greatest characters.
Empowering the people
Human beings seem to have an innate desire for power. An effective Christian leader knows this and helps channel it for good. He does so by empowering others and sharing some of his own power.
Moses, for example, realized that he could not do all the work by himself and so appointed captains of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands (Deuteronomy 1:12 - 16). He trusted the judgment of these men enough to give them power to do the administrative work of running a new nation. When Jesus came to the earth, He said, "I give you power from on high" (Luke 24:49). He gave His followers powers of healing and prophetic teaching. He gives today those who are Christian a foretaste of His nature through the Holy Spirit.
God has chosen to share a portion of his tremendous power with us. His power is manifested in our lives through our ability to overcome sin. He gives us a type of mental energy - not to control others but to control ourselves. In Ephesians 3:14 - 20, Paul describes the great strength granted by the Holy Spirit to achieve God's purpose for mankind. Verse 20 shows that there is a limitless supply of power at work in our lives.
How can we empower others? A Christian who chooses to lead can be compared to a man with a box of flashlight batteries. He has two choices. He can selfishly keep them all for himself, or he can give them to other people with flashlights. If he chooses the former, only his flashlight will penetrate the darkness. However, if he shares the batteries, many lights will illuminate the darkness and everyone will benefit. This analogy is the essence of empowering.
Daily we find ourselves in situations where we can distribute our power to others. However, do we take advantage of such opportunities? Do we share important information? Do we encourage them to do their best? Are we willing to encourage them to develop their talents? Both family and church relationships are excellent proving grounds for empowering others, for pulling rather than pushing, for motivating rather than compelling.
One of the most important qualities of a Christian leader is meekness, yet it is also the one least understood in many churches.
Moses may have been a military commander before he left the court of Pharaoh. He was certainly cocky enough to kill an Egyptian. Forty years later, however, Moses was a different type of man. Numbers 12:3 describes him as being "meek above all men on the earth." Moses seemed to have no pretensions about his role as leader of Israel. Because he was so meek, he left his vindication to God when Aaron and Miriam wanted to assert their equality with him.
David likewise showed meekness when he allowed himself to be cursed by Shimei, a descendant of the house of Saul (see 2Samuel 16:5 - 13). The embittered Shimei taunted this king of Israel and threw rocks at him and his soldiers. It must have been a humbling experience, but like Moses, David trusted in God for his vindication.
Did Jesus show a spirit of meekness? The Scriptures say that He was meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:29). This attitude is SO important Jesus promised the earth as an inheritance to any Christian who is meek (Matthew 5:5).
The English word meekness has become an archaic term. It has been suggested that in the original Greek meek means "God-molded." In a modern sense, meekness has been described as humility coupled with gentleness. The meek do not threaten others or aggressively rule over them (see Galatians 5:23, 1Timothy 6:11, 1Peter 3:4, and Colossians 3:12). Every Christian, regardless of standing in the church, is to exhibit a spirit of meekness.
Why is meekness such an important component in being a leader? Since they work through and with other human beings, they must be open to input, feedback, and even a challenge without feeling defensive. Meekness is a response to God's directives, while the other is a carnal reaction.
13. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him demonstrate his works through good conduct in the meekness of wisdom. 14. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and lie against the Truth (James 3:13 - 14).
A true Christian who leads according to God's way is easy to entreat. They do not desire to lord it over the flock nor to claim for themselves more than their due. They understand that true leadership is not an exercise in self-fulfillment, where they can bask in a feeling of power and control. They know it involves doing things they sometimes would rather not do, such as giving up time and resources to serve others.
Though often overlooked, the qualities of empowerment and meekness are vital in an effective Christian leader. God has been more than willing to share some of his power with us. Those who wish the lead must do the same.