God is the origin of leadership. In fact, most of the words we use to describe leaders were originally used to describe God. The bible can be looked at as a journey in which God leads his people from one point to the next.
- God leads Abraham from his father’s house to the land of promise
- God leads Israel from Egypt to Canaan
- God leads us from darkness into light
In every generation, God always raised leaders that he would use to lead his people. The Bible talks about different types of leaders that were used by God. These are:
- Priests – In Numbers 16:5, God called priests to “come near” to him. This meant that priests were to be intermediaries between sinful men and a holy God. The priests were called to a life of holiness and they were forbidden from participating in any activity that would defile them. They would offer sacrifices on behalf of the children of Israel.
- Judges – judges are arguably the earliest formal leadership structure used in Israel. The book of Judges documents the Judges that Israel had and how they would rally the nation back to God. God used the judges to execute his judgment over the enemies of Israel and thereby deliver them from oppression.
- Kings – originally, Israel was a theocracy and they saw no need for an earthly leader. However, they desired to have a leadership structure that resembled that of their neighboring nations and so they demanded a king. God answered their prayer and the era of kings began with King Saul. Whenever they cooperated with Him, God used the kings to bring stability and order in Israel (By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down. Proverbs 29:4)
- Prophets – Prophets were God’s mouthpieces. Unlike priests and kings who got into the office by birth, prophets were specifically called by God. Whenever God wanted to send a message to the people, he would reveal it to the prophets who would then communicate the same.
Leadership Examples from the Bible
Moses is an example of a faithful and humble leader. He was reluctant to answer God’s call because he considered himself unqualified for the task at hand. Even after answering the call, Moses continued to maintain humility which is characterized by his desire to see God’s will over the nation of Israel. In number 12:3, Moses is described as the humblest person on earth.
David’s leadership illustrates the importance of leaders developing confidence in God and not giving in to fear. A classical illustration of this is when David faced Goliath after the entire army of Israel was too afraid of him. Even after David became a great general in the war, he still continued to put his trust in God. For instance, he never assumed that he would automatically win a battle but he often consulted God before going into war (1 Samuel 30:8). Additionally, David’s ability to forgive, as seen in his interactions with Saul, highlights the importance of mercy in leadership.
Solomon’s leadership demonstrates the importance of seeking God’s wisdom in leadership. When God appears to Solomon in a dream to ask him what he wants, Solomon prays for wisdom to lead the nation of Israel. God answers his prayer and makes him so wise that other kings and queens would travel from far and wide to witness his wise leadership in action (Luke 11:31). Just as Solomon demonstrated, leaders should seek discernment and prioritize making fair and just choices for the benefit of their communities.
Nehemiah’s leadership in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem exemplifies vision and effective project management. Even though there were many obstacles in rebuilding the walls, Nehemiah remained steadfast and eventually completed the project. The story of Nehemiah should be a reminder that leaders should have a clear vision, set achievable goals, and motivate others to work together toward a common objective.
The life of Queen Esther is a great lesson on sacrificial leadership. Esther had been taken with her fellow Jews as slaves and she was selected to be the king’s wife through a lengthy selection process. However, she didn’t allow the comfort of the palace to forget the plight of God’s people. She courageously approached the king to defend the welfare of her people. Through divine intervention, her efforts bore fruit, and the Jews who were supposed to be killed were saved. Leaders should be willing to stand up for what is right, even when faced with personal danger.
- How does the concept of God leading His people in the Bible serve as the foundation for understanding leadership?
- In what ways can the roles of priests, judges, kings, and prophets in the Bible be seen as different models of leadership?
- What are the characteristics of a priest’s leadership as described in Numbers 16:5, and how might these qualities apply to leadership in modern settings?
- Discuss the significance of judges as early leaders in Israel and their role in rallying the nation back to God. How might this relate to contemporary leadership challenges in religious communities?
- How does the transition from a theocracy to a monarchy, with the appointment of King Saul, reflect the changing dynamics of leadership in ancient Israel?
- In what ways did leaders like Moses, David, Solomon, and Esther exemplify various aspects of leadership in the Bible?
- How did Moses demonstrate humility as a leader, and why is humility an important trait for leaders in both religious and secular contexts?
- Using the example of David, discuss the importance of leaders maintaining confidence in God and seeking divine guidance in their decision-making processes.
- What can we learn from Solomon’s request for wisdom and his wise leadership in the Bible, and how can this apply to contemporary leadership situations?
- How does Esther’s story of sacrificial leadership inspire leaders to stand up for what is right, even in the face of personal danger?