There’s one essential to leadership; character. Would you follow a leader who lacked it? I say, no way! I hope you are saying that in your heart too.
Emerging and established leaders always run the risk of stepping beyond their level of character into a place that will ultimately cause a break or fall. When character is not sufficiently developed the gift of leadership on our life can take us further in position than our character can sustain us. And, here’s the real issue of underdeveloped character, when leaders fall they hurt the people they are leading.
Solomon, the wisest of all, knew the consequence of leading astray those entrusted to his care. When he could have asked for anything, he asked for an “understanding heart” to “judge this great people of God’s.” I’ve written extensively about Solomon’s request so I won’t go further here, but all leaders young and old should take heed to the consequences of leadership gone array.
It’s not my intent to suggest that good leaders are perfect, they are not. But, a person called to lead should be growing continually in character; recognizing their shortcomings and doing the work necessary to become the best leader they can be.
A quick example from my own life, in the early 90s I was a regional director for a United Way agency in Florida. I had offices and staff in five counties. I’ve always loved people and wanted to see them fulfill their potential. I also defend them when I think it is necessary. It’s that passion in my own heart for truth and justice that often spurs me on in my leadership roles, like a champion for the people! As you can imagine this passion took me to a place in a situation that got escalated to a level I should have never gone to. Needless to say I got a call to the HR Director’s office. It was one of the best moments of my career. Thankfully, this woman was a Christian and she wanted to help mold and shape my gift as much as I wanted to mold and shape those I led. Her words, “Choose your battles wisely. Not everything is worth going to the mat over.” Those words hit my heart and taught me a good lesson.
The best leaders are teachers. Just like a parent who teaches their child. Their best moments are those teachable moments where everyone grows as a result. Especially leaders within God’s kingdom, all should be teachers. Even though Paul said don’t aspire to be a teacher, we ought to all desire to learn and grow, then learn and grow some more, so that we can teach the people around us. Growth through knowledge and understanding should never end. This pattern of growing forms and shapes character.
Character is a person’s moral and ethical code, expressed by integrity which is the living out of that code. What should this code be established on? For Christian leaders it’s the Word of God alone which should be the foundation of everything we do. We could simplify a leaders moral and ethical code to an application of The Ten Commandments. We can also learn from Jesus as He lived and shared an expansive application of those commands.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Beatitudes teach all of us what attributes a believer should display. It also is a framework for leaders especially teaching them how to lead people. Poor in spirit means humble. When we make a mistake in leadership we should mourn, not just for ourselves but more so those who were touched by our mistake. When we do, we will be forgiven and comforted. This creates a desire in our hearts to do what is right in God’s eyes the next time. Leaders should be gentle, kind, self-controlled, and especially able to bring peace to every situation.
A leader’s character should always display wisdom in life both personally and professionally. Wisdom is gained through knowledge and understanding from God’s Word. Best source, the Proverbs. When Jeremiah said, “I found Your Words and I ate them and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). I took him seriously! Proverbs is a daily part of my spiritual food and it should also be for anyone who is leading people.
Paul gave clear instruction to Timothy and Titus about the character of those in leadership. He was speaking about a church setting, but the qualities apply to every part of life for a mature believer who should be leading others;
- Good reputation
- Family order
- Self-control & discipline & integrity
- Strong relationship skills
- Hospitable & loving
- Spiritual maturity
There are three challenges to the leader that come from time to time; pride, money, and seducing spirits. All three are meant to take the leader out and prevent fulfillment of destiny. Leaders must be on guard concerning each one of these at all times. Resist pride by never taking credit for anything. Always give God the glory and honor for everything good that happens in your life. Never put importance on money. God owns it all, trust Him, follow Him, and you will always have what you need when you need it. God wants to prosper His people, but will never do it to their detriment. Remember on American money there is a phrase “In God We Trust.” Let that always remind you that God comes before money, always seek Him first and this challenge should be easily overcome when it presents itself. Seducing spirits entice, flatter, and try to gain an advantage in the life of a leader to neuter his/her power. Samson is a great example of this. God kept telling his parents, keep him away from heathen women to no avail. Delilah finally got her way with him and took his power. The Holy Spirit will warn a leader of these types of spirits, so don’t ever override His warning. This will keep a leader safe at all times.
What is your code of morals and ethics? Are you living it out and growing in demonstration of it? Writing down this code is a good exercise to help you live by it. Keep it before your eyes. Every day ask the Holy Spirit to help and He will.
Live above the fray and look for opportunities to impart wisdom into those you lead, whether children, family, employees, co-workers, fellow believers. You are growing and your leadership will flourish as a result.