We all show leadership at some times in our lives, some people find that they are in leadership roles for most of their lives. The most obvious people in leadership roles are managers in companies. In the church it would be the “elders”. They make decisions in the guidance of the company / church.
However, there are many other people in leadership roles at various times. For example, if a person is put in charge of a committee then that person is the leader of that committee. The committee may be the welfare committee and the person put in charge of the committee may be the leader because he or she had shown great wisdom in dealing with welfare issues in the past. If you are a Sunday school leader then you are the leader or person in authority over that class of Sunday school students. You are ultimately responsible for the students learning about the Bible. And so the list of leadership roles that we all take at various stages in our life goes on.
Moses as a leader
Moses was a leader, and he was a good one. And we are fortunate that some of his good leadership tips were recorded for us to learn and apply in our own lives at those times when we are leaders. We can find Moses leadership tips in the Bible:
At that time I said to you, "You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. The LORD your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky. May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you."
You answered me, "What you propose to do is good." So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. And I charged your judges at that time: Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it. And at that time I told you everything you were to do. Deuteronomy Ch.1:9-18
What was Moses first leadership tip:
Recognise your limitations.
For Moses to lead the nation by himself was an incredible burden. He realised that he could not complete the task by himself. As nations grow they become increasingly more complex – the same happens with organisation and churches. The bigger the organisation becomes the more conflicting needs and disagreements arise amongst the people. It is difficult for one leader to make all the decisions. In a similar way to Moses, you may have an instinctive inclination to try to do all the work alone in the particular area that you are leader over. This may be because you are afraid or embarrassed to ask for assistance. In relation to this, Moses made a wise decision:
At that time I said to you, "You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. Deuteronomy Ch.1:9
The wise decision Moses made was to share the leadership with others. Instead of trying to handle alone all of the larger responsibilities, he found ways of sharing the load. This way the God-given talents and abilities of others could be used.
So the first tip from Moses is to delegate to others.
Leaders must encourage good character qualities.
The next leadership tip is that leaders must encourage or nurture good character qualities. If you look at the qualities Moses looked for in the men he wanted to appoint as leaders under him, (in the passage quoted above) you can see the qualities he was after. Moses identified the inner qualities of a good leader as being firstly:
These characteristics differ quite dramatically from the ones that often help leaders get elected today like:
good looks, affluence, popularity, eagerness to do anything to get to the top.
I can think of a number of instances where leaders have been elected on these various worldly characteristics. However, the characteristics that Moses identified are vastly different from these worldly characteristics.
Moses tips for characteristics that a leader should have, must be evident in ourselves if we lead. And these same characteristics should be the ones we look for in those we elect to positions of leadership.
Be thankful for the work of others
Another of Moses tips for good leadership can be found when he was inspecting the work that had been done on the tabernacle:
Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them. Exodus Ch.39:43
So Moses next tip for good leadership is to be thankful for the work of others. Moses examined the finished work and confirmed that it had been done the way God wanted. As a result, he then blessed the people. A good leader checks the progress of the assigned tasks and gives rewards for good work.
If you are in a position of responsibility, then make sure that you confirm that the tasks have been completed as was expected.
If they have, then demonstrate your appreciation to the people who have been involved.
Effective leaders are servants
The last leadership tip we will consider comes from the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. Luke Ch.22:25-26
The leadership tip from the Lord Jesus Christ is that effective leaders are servants. The leadership in God’s kingdom is very different to the leadership found in the world around us. Worldly leaders often show selfishness and arrogance as they fight their way to the top. But among believers in God, the leader is to show that he can serve the best.
Leadership amongst believers of God can take on different approaches – some lead through administration, some lead through relationships and some through public speaking. However you lead, the leader needs to think like a servant. He needs to ask the people you lead how you can serve them better.
Responsibilities of a leader
So we have looked at some of the aspects of leadership that we must exhibit if we are to effective leaders. How should those under the leader act? Paul gives advice to those under the leader:
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews Ch.13:17
Here we see Paul urging the people to heed the instructions of their leaders. The Greek for “submit yourselves” in this verse is “yield yourselves”. For in this way there is a participation between those who are guiding and those who are being guided, for this will lead to harmony and peace. But an important point is Paul’s next words where he says “they watch for your souls, as those who must give account”. The Greek word for watch is “Agrupneo” which literally means “to be sleepless”. It has been a word that has been used in other parts of the Bible to refer to the watchful eye of the shepherds. Leaders are to be faithful shepherds of the flock. They are to be concerned with the welfare of the flock.
But Paul also says in those words that they hold positions of grave responsibility in having to give and account to the Chief Shepherd when he should appear. In Ezekiel chapter 34 the shepherds of Israel had been indicted because of their lack of watchfulness over the flock of God. So the leadership role is a extremely serious one and one where we will have to give account at the judgement seat to the supreme leader as to how we lead the flock of God.
James follows with this theme of the seriousness of the leadership role:
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. James Ch.3:1
So James is saying here not to be like many teachers who will receive heavier judgement because they had failed. James knew that whoever would fill the office of teacher in his church condemns himself to a life on a knife-edge. If he is to do his task with any sort of efficiency, it must mean unremitting care.
Paul, however, is a bit more positive about leadership:
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy Ch.5:17
So if a leader fails in his duties he is up for heavier punishment, but on the other hand, Paul says that those leaders who do well will be counted worthy for double honour.
How we exercise authority or leadership over others is an important part of the believer’s life who find themselves in a leadership role. The following words of Peter summarise the duties of a leader:
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter Ch.5:1-4
There is the reward if you pass the test of leadership at the judgement seat.