Ancient Leadership Lessons

Many of you would have great suggestions for books on leadership from your own reading and study. And the list would be quite varied as there are all kinds of books on leadership from many different aspects. I love to check out the latest leadership books, but I want to remind you of some ancient leadership lessons from an old book.

If you were to read the Bible with an ear for leadership concepts you would find many aspects to put into practice and learn from. While it is not a leadership book, the stories of different leaders in history can speak powerfully into our present leadership situations.

Nehemiah has been an example as he had a clear vision for how to repair the wall around Jerusalem, how he was able to recruit and delegate, and persevere through opposition. Ezra is an example of a leader as he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. These are some good examples for us.

Leaders, I would encourage you to read the Bible and look to the Bible to speak into and shape your leadership. Some of it is personal. We have examples of the faith of Abraham over a long period of time, continuing to trust God to be faithful to his promises. Had God given you a vision? Trust God to do his work through you to accomplish that vision. Continue to push ahead faithfully.

Joseph is an example of someone who persisted faithfully no matter the circumstances around him. All leaders face difficult situations from time to time, but we can continue to faithfully serve God even in those difficult times.

I like the desperation of Moses, begging God to go with him and the people. Moses said to God, “if you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” (Exodus 33:15) We need to have that kind of desperation for God to go with us too. As children of God, we know that we can accomplish little of value unless He goes with us. Christian leaders need to have that desperation of Moses that God go ahead and with you in all your endeavors.

We can learn from some of the negative examples as well. We can learn the devastation of listening to the crowd, as Aaron did, when he allowed the people to make a golden calf because Moses was gone to long. We can learn from the bad example of Eli who did not correct his sons when they disobeyed God. We can learn the importance of leading and not letting the crowd mislead us. We can learn the importance of following through and even discipling those under us when they do wrong.

We can learn from the example of the twelve spies the Israelites sent into the land God had promised them. They came back with stories, but there were two very different stories. Ten of them saw danger everywhere. They even exaggerated their stories – talking of giants who made us look like grasshoppers. But there were two others, Joshua and Caleb, who spoke of the wonderful fruit of the land and that it was flowing with “milk and honey”. It is a great place, and we can trust God to go ahead of us and give us the land. We can learn how the different views and the different stories we tell influence the people we lead in powerful ways. The Israelites listened to the majority and accepted the negative picture. They chose fear instead of trust because they listened to frightened leaders. God made them wander the wilderness until all that generation was dead and gone. Only then, were Joshua and Caleb able to enter the land with the next generation. What story are you telling? Are you pointing people to the problems or to the God who helps us through the problems?

And of course, we can look at how Jesus led his group of twelve. There are many leadership skills we can learn in how he led that small group. We can see how he loved and cared for those under his leadership, we can see examples he set when he washed their feet, we can learn from how he exhorted Peter when he misunderstood what Jesus’ plan was. We can learn from his commitment to the plan, never wavering.

Yes, learn from the great leadership books and seminars, but do not forget the ancient leadership wisdom from God’s word that still speaks into our leadership roles today.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

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