I don’t have to tell you that we are living in turbulent times. Almost daily we are bombarded with the news of tragedies and atrocities around the world. There is also much political unrest and discord in our nation. Still, this is not a time for Christians to timidly shrink back under the challenges of this age. In fact, now more than ever, we need to take our place as leaders in our society.
Therefore, today and over the next few weeks, I’d like to share about effective Christian leadership. By the terms “Christian leadership,” I’m not referring exclusively to church ministry. I’m calling on Christians in all walks of life to rise up as strong leaders in their families, workplaces, communities, and other circles of influence.
Instead of merely providing a list of important leadership actions or principles, I’d like to describe the core characteristics of a Christian leader. I’ll be writing more about the leader than the leadership.
You see, we hear a lot about how to develop great leadership, but I propose that we think more about how to develop great leaders. The difference involves focusing on who you should be more than what you should do. It means choosing character over competence and highlighting attitude over action. It means building strength on the inside rather than showing strength on the outside.
Becoming a great leader isn’t about having the right skills, but it’s about being who God called you to be. It’s about following Jesus, and allowing Him to impact the world through you.
I’ll be describing a Christian leader from head to toe, and today I’ll begin with the head. The defining characteristics of the head of a Christian leader are wisdom and understanding.
The Bible has so much to say about the importance of these qualities. In fact, the Book of Proverbs declares, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (4:7). Our desire for wisdom and understanding should be greater than the desire for money, possessions, or prestige.
Wisdom and understanding are definitely companion qualities, and it’s hard to separate one from the other. That’s why they are mentioned in the same breath in so many Bible scriptures. To me, having “wisdom” means to have the ability to apply intelligence, knowledge, or skill in the right way at the right time. To have “understanding” means to have to ability to apply discernment in order to accurately “size up” a situation. When used together, wisdom and understanding are powerhouse qualities that allow a person to correctly perceive very complex situations in order to know how to properly handle them.
If you desire to be a Christian leader, the good news is that you can grow in wisdom and understanding by seeking the Lord. We read in Proverbs that “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (2:6). God wants to give you wisdom and understanding, but you must make it enough of a priority that you will diligently seek Him and listen to Him. The Bible says to “incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:2).
The apostle Paul prayed for Christians in the city of Colosse that they would be “filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). I pray the same prayer for each of you today, and I encourage you to be a leader by following Jesus.