8 Principles for Teaching Leadership from the Bible

It is a foregone conclusion by many believers that leadership is easily taught from the Bible. It is and is not a true idea.

Leadership is definitely put on display and explicitly taught in the Bible. But, like all other subjects, it requires careful interpretation and handling with nuance. It is, in fact, a spiritual discipline for believers. Here are eight principles that you can use when going to the Scriptures to teach leadership.

1. The Bible is not a leadership manual. It is unhelpful to define the Bible as something less than God revealing Himself. Though a divine leadership manual sounds like a great statement to make in a sermon or training event, it diminishes the Scriptures. We need to state that in the Bible, God includes authoritative teaching about leadership.

2. Identify the prescriptive teachings on leadership. The Bible contains a great many passages that directly address leadership and how leaders are to do their work. For example, in Titus 1:5-9, Paul gives the qualifications for a man to serve as an elder in the church. It is a prescriptive passage about who can lead and how they are to do it.

3. Help people understand the descriptive illustrations of leadership. Nehemiah, King David, Gideon, Simon Peter, and a host of other characters give us examples of godly leadership… sometimes. We must be careful to not take a point-in-time occurrence and use it as an eternal principle. Nehemiah is a prime example of how this can be used and misused. It is an epic story of how God used Nehemiah to complete a necessary task for the Kingdom of God. We must be careful to not simply turn the thirteen chapter book into a corporate leadership manual for success.

4. Deny the temptation to proof text clichés and moralisms. If we lose sight of its nature, the Bible becomes a fable intended to make bad people behave better. The Scripture is the eternal truth of God that is rooted in the gospel. As it is addressed in the Bible, leadership must do the same. Root it in God’s transforming work of the heart so that lives can be changed.

5. Keep the goal of leadership true to the Bible’s goal. No subject included in the Bible can have a different goal from the Bible. God reveals Himself for His own glory and He can consequently change us for our good. In teaching leadership, it is not to simply make a leader better, more competent, or nice. The Bible addresses leadership so that we can understand how God should be glorified through the person who is leading and the work that they lead.

6. Teach offensive and defensive leadership. Leadership must be proactive. We take God’s truth out to the fields of people’s lives and apply it before trials come. Spiritual leadership also defends God’s people and His work against the assaults of the God’s enemies. Teach both sides of this equation without diminishing the other. Help leaders go on the offensive against evil and know how to defend the faith when attacked.

7. “Servant leadership” is a thing but not the only thing. In teaching, we tend to over-complicate mattes or simplify them to their base part. The model of “servant leadership” is often proposed as the ultimate way of defining leadership. It is a way but not the only way. Many of the descriptive and prescriptive passages regarding leadership show us that leaders confront sin, stand against earthly structures of power, and challenge believers to press deeper into God’s mission. Teach that leaders serve within the context of all that they do.

8. Urgency is a hallmark. The godly leaders included in the pages of the Bible were people of action. They discerned the need for God’s transforming work to take root in the lives of those who followed them. Wasting time is evidenced in the lives of those disobedient to the mission of God. As you teach leadership, infuse the urgency of the unfinished task we face to deliver the gospel to the nations.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

I serve as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

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