What Does The Bible Say About Leadership?

Being a leader is not easy, and any Christian who steps up to the task of leading others is sure to understand the weight of responsibility that comes with their role.

In Jesus, we are given an example of benign and selfless leadership, and through him, we can learn so much about how to be an honorable leader.

What Does The Bible Say About Leadership

The bible has many teachings on leadership, as the theme is addressed over and over again.

From negative examples of harsh, dictatorial leaders, to the noble example set by Jesus, the good book covers all aspects of what it means to have power, influence, and responsibility for our fellow humans.

By studying bible verses about leadership, church leaders, religious leaders, political leaders, and those with leadership roles in everyday life can gather much wisdom on how to handle authority with dignity and grace.

Bible Verses About Leadership

Matthew 7:12

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

In this first verse, Jesus tells us to treat others like we want to be treated ourselves. This is one of the most important lessons we can take from the Bible.

We should never expect anything less than respect or kindness from those around us. If we are kind to others, they will be kind back to us. If we are mean to others, they will also be mean to us. So we must always act kindly towards others.

This truth extends to those in positions of privilege and authority, especially religious authorities, because the temptation to think yourself superior to others increases when you have power over others.

In this verse, Jesus outlines a simple shorthand by which leaders can keep an upright heart just by bearing in mind that they must treat their subjects as they themselves would wish to be treated.

Matthew 20:25-28  

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In this next verse, we hear how Jesus saw true Christian leadership as being about sacrifice and selflessness, rather than about selfish ambition.

Just as Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice when he died on the cross, so all others in positions of spiritual authority should consider themselves the servants of those who follow and look up to them. 

Each leader must have endless love and respect for their subjects if they wish to command love and respect back.

John 13:13—17 

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

In this verse, Jesus takes this theme of selfless leadership even further. He washes the feet of his followers to demonstrate how he is no better or ‘higher’ than they are, and they in turn are no better than their own household servants.

What Does The Bible Say About Leadership (1)

In life, leaders’ positions are necessary and helpful, yet true leaders should understand that we are all inherently equal in God’s eyes.

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

This verse from the Colossians is incredibly beautiful and expertly describes what lies at the true heart of any leadership role. These qualities of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” can be a mantra for all spiritual leaders to hold dear. Jesus was this type of leader.

He was not frightening, cruel, boastful, threatening, or greedy.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 leaders

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.

Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work… They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

This passage from Timothy is very interesting because it shows a disdain for false leadership and for those who lead without having any true integrity or authority. 

Here, myths and false doctrines are spread by those who have a mouthpiece but lack knowledge and wisdom. Jesus tells us that to be an effective leader, you must have knowledge of the Bible and stick to God’s teachings – not push your own agenda.

Matthew 22:41-44 Christian Leaders

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:

‘The LORD said to my Lord,

“Sit at My right hand,

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’?

If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

This final Bible verse describes how Jesus dealt with the doubt and speculation of other spiritual leaders who wished to discredit him. In life, leaders will often be the target of these kinds of attacks, and Jesus shows us that a calm, measured approach is always the best response. 

He does not lose his temper with the Pharisees, but instead answers their questions with knowledge and compassion. Then he asks them a simple question.

Jesus waits to ask his question, and because he has the strength of his convictions, his faith, and his knowledge of the scriptures, he manages to silence his naysayers.

Final Thoughts

Through Jesus’s example, we can learn so much about Christian leadership and leadership in general. Whether you are heading up a team in the office or running to become the President of the United States, the message seems to be the same.

Leadership is about service, duty, selflessness, and wisdom.

Anneka Huddleston
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