The history of many of the earth's rulers is not good. With rare exception, most have been abysmal, selfish failures displaying all manner of terrible, hideous and disgusting behavior.
When one hears the name Henry the Eighth for instance, what image comes to mind? Thoughts of drunkenness, debauchery, excess and vanity? What about Marie Antoinette, when she spoke of starving peasants and said, “Let them eat cake”?
The list of evil leaders is almost endless. Hitler, Nero, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein are just some of the kings and leaders who have murdered, tortured and wrecked literally hundreds of millions of lives. They were leaders who used their authority not to benefit and show love to their subjects, but instead used their power as a vehicle to serve their own vanity, lust and greed.
God has called converted Christians to be kings in His future Kingdom. Revelation 5:10 clearly says, “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth”. The kingly examples we see in this physical life are not ones we are going to want to emulate. So to whom should we look? Jesus Christ is the ultimate King and He is in stark contrast to worldly leaders since He is the manifestation of ultimate love.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:30 that the first in this world will be last in the world to come and that the last in this world will be first in the coming Kingdom of God. This, I believe, is a great clue to how we are to manifest leadership.
Characteristics of great leaders
Leadership is a very delicate balancing act. It is our task to learn the art of leadership now, while in this physical life. Here are a few things we should learn:
1. A leader must be strong while working with a loving approach and yes, sometimes that love must be tough love. Strength does not come by acting like a dictator, it comes by acting in love (Matthew 5:43-44, Matthew 5:9).
2. A leader must be kind without being weak. You cannot mistake weakness, silence or timidity for kindness. Regardless of how difficult it may be to do, a true leader has the courage to stand up and tell the truth when needed, while still acting in a loving way towards others (Ephesians 4:15).
3. A leader must be bold, but never a bully. Great struggles in life require boldness. Godly leaders are not afraid to be bold in a time of crisis. Bullying is not necessary to lead. Others will follow naturally if you stand boldly in front.
4. Leaders must be humble, but not timid (2 Chronicles 12:6; Proverbs 29:23). Humility means having a sense of awe, a sense of wonder and an awareness of who you are in relation to God (James 4:10).
5. Great leaders can have a sense of humor, but should express it without displaying foolishness. It is excellent to have good humor and be fun, but we must always guard against being crass or foolish (Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 19:3).
6. Leaders exhibit the right kind of confidence. Being proud and arrogant is never a good place to be with a wise and confident leader (Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 16:18).
Each of us is a special person with the potential destiny of being a king. Do not let poor leadership examples be your template for kingship. We should always apply the rules of true leadership, shown always through loving others. Our Savior Jesus Christ exemplified the ways of love and outgoing concern. He is our eternal template for leadership (John 13:13-17).
For more information on developing leadership skills and more, read the free Bible study guide: Transforming Your Life - The Process of Conversion.