If you had to follow someone, who would it be and what credentials would you demand? Think about this for a moment: In terms of flesh and blood today, who are you prepared to follow? If you can’t think of someone alive, who could you follow if they could back from the dead and offered to lead?
We need leadership and leaders today. Where are they? We don’t need dictators, despots or bosses—-we need leaders we can follow. We have plenty of managers, and coaches—-but what about the true leaders? Jesus was a leader—-not chairman or CEO. He challenged, inspired, pulled together the greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the world!
Each of us has someone that we trusted and followed. But Jesus notwithstanding, there are five other bonafide leaders I would point to in the Bible; each had a leadership trait that stood out that inspires me. In each case, they were not great leaders because the did the greatest things-rather they are the ones that got the people to do the greatest things.
The first, and greatest I think, is Moses. His greatest trait was his humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. This man was humble. He knew that he was nothing without God to lead him and help him. The worst leader, in my mind, is the man that does not think he is conceited. That person scares me. “If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.” (C.S. Lewis) A great leader will always struggle with conceit. The two go together.
The second leader is Paul. His leadership strength was his ability to tell others to follow him. This was not conceit or pride, but an understanding of what God had done in his life and how things work spiritually. He boldly said this: “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (I Corinthians 11:1) Paul aimed high! He wanted all men to hear the gospel and get saved. He had great ambitions for how to lead others to Jesus Christ. Can you say that? Can you tell others in your church to follow your example and your aim? And what is your aim as you lead? What is the goal? It’s people getting into heaven. C.S. Lewis said that if you, “Aim at heaven you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” A Christian leader is aiming at nothing less than the Kingdom of God.
Joshua is my favorite. What a man of God and fearless leader! He challenged the Israelites to make up their mind, and boldly stated: “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” He knew what God had in store! He was a visionary! He knew that better times were coming and he cast his lot with God! The man was 100% sure that there were far, far better things ahead than anything they would leave behind. Margaret Thatcher thought like Joshua. She once said, "Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” Now that’s a leader.
Think also about Joseph. When he was tempted to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, he immediately responded: “How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). Note this: It would have been a sin, in the FIRST PLACE, against God—not Potiphar. That’s where he placed his allegiance. He kew that it was not his goal or prize to succeed in Egypt, but to do what was right; when you do that, the rest lies with God. Joseph was not attempting to become a leader—-he was attempting to be faithful to God… leadership happened. He had the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He did not set out to be a leader, but he became one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his heart.
And finally consider Esther. When faced with being quiet or speaking up against what was patently evil, she said: “If I must die, I must die” (Esther 4: 16). She was both a heroine of the first order and a leader. She believed in what what she was standing for and what she was doing. Friends, we are what we believe we are. Leaders remind us of that.
So look at your Governor, your President, your Speaker of the House, the head of your church, and at your pastor—-do they have these traits? Are those that lead humble, dedicated, worthy of trust and courageous. The task of our leaders is to get us from where we are to where we need to be! If any of you can do that——then please lead. If you will not or cannot, the kindly follow the ones that are brave enough to lead us.
It’s obvious that we are all pinning for leaders of quality—-those that measure up to what a real leader is. But what about us? Are we able to lead? If we are, are we ready for folks to follow our very example and our pace of leading, Remember this: ”The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards he sets for himself." --Ray Kroc
I am so quick to insult and chastise the politicians in Washington, Raleigh or Danbury-they very men and women that I helped elect. And yet I am not willing to run for office or be a politician—I would not want the scrutiny and constant assault of insults and taunts they receive every time they open their mouths. Ridiculing and insulting those that are trying to lead is fraught with danger—you or I might have to lead one day and our accusations and standards for judgment might come back to haunt us! If we can do a better job than our elected officials, we should have at it, but we must be careful of always complaining and never complimenting the things that are getting done. I would love to see Sean Hannity,, Jake Tapper or Chris Cuomo run for office! But don’t expect to see it. It’s easier to point out the flaws in others than to place yourself under the same microscope.
The challenge then: Be like Moses and listen to the call—even if you prefer that someone else (Aaron) do it. God might send a burning bush into your life this week—-listen to Him if it happens regardless of how ancient or youthful you think you are! And if you accept the call to lead, pray to Him to help you develop some thick skin! No one that leads in Christian endeavors is from from being beleaguered with unkind and often meritless assaults.. But lead anyway and ”do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway." --Eleanor Roosevelt.
There’s no real secret to be found in how to triumph in leading. Some folks do all things right and still get cut down. So in leading and reaching your goal, there’s no formula for success, “but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody." --Herbert Swole. Christian, lead as the one who is leading you—-Jesus Christ—leads you. You won’t always be popular, but you will always be favored.
And is you goal realize that you might be inspiring an even greater leader. We are starving for leaders in our church and in our national discourse that can inspire. George Patton had many flaws, but he got things done and he roused his troops to accomplish the impossible. In leadership, he said, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” A good leader does not micro-manage.
And leaders don’t get things done by whining, complaining or humiliating the ones they are leading.. that's assault, not leadership.. The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good folks to get the job done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. That’s what distinguished Ronald Reagan as President.
We were not redeemed to simply eat, drink and sleep. Nor are we here here to merely make a living and raise a family. We are here in order to enable to train others to share the good news about Jesus Christ and to help the less fortunate enjoy the abundant life, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and greater achievement. Woodrow Wilson once that, “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
In churches today one of the biggest reasons folks won’t lead is that they think they’re too old. But look at the age of those that God has called to do great things—-they were often quite old. Abraham, Joshua, Moses, Noah…to name just a few. You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Your knowledge and experience makes you a greater threat to kingdom of Satan than young men and women half your age. Don’t listen to the lie that you’re no longer able to lead.
But let me end with this: We need leaders—-not a leader. And these leaders need to share a common vision and agree to an agreed upon outlook.
In the New Testament “leaders” in the church is plural. The Apostles were clear that leadership in the local church must be more than one man. Plural leadership is a safeguard against the abuse of authority. “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” Acts 14:23. “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” Titus 1:5. NIV
It’s not meant for the church to have any single leader other than Jesus Christ. The rest of us share in leadership with no one’s personality or agenda dominating the other. The greatest leader in any church, would be the leader that displays the greatest humility, transparency, courage, faith and preparation to stand alone, if required by conscience. The least leader is the one that demands to be heard, dominates, is easily offended, and is unwilling to wrestle challenges of ministry to the ground——Christian leaders are not quitters.