In case you haven’t noticed, great leaders are in short supply these days. Even the church faces the challenge of finding leaders.
The greatest example of leadership the world has ever known is JESUS CHRIST and one of the greatest illustrations of His leadership was recorded by a man named John. From the Gospel that bears his name, the apostle John gives us 13 time-tested, life-changing characteristics of genuine, godly leadership from the life of our Lord (John 13:1-17).
Before you read the principles below, take a moment to read the text from John 13:1-17. For everyone currently in leadership positions and for those who aspire to lead, here you will find the biblical benchmark by which all great leaders will be judged.
1. Love is the motive behind all genuine, godly leadership (vs. 1c). There is no greater or higher motive than love. JESUS wanted to show His disciples the full extent of His love. So He served them.
2. Godly leadership is best expressed without words (vs. 1c). What JESUS did spoke volumes. Sometimes our best messages to others are communicated without words.
3. Godly leaders lead in spite of opposition (vs. 2). Just because the devil is at work doesn’t mean we can’t do God’s work. JESUS didn’t allow what the devil was doing, in the heart of Judas, to keep Him from having an impact on the hearts of the others.
4. Godly leaders are secure in who they are, Who they represent, what they are supposed to be doing and where they are going (vs. 3). Secure leaders will always secure followers.
5. Genuine leadership always begins with service (vs. 4). If you want to know if someone will be a good leader or not, hand them a broom or a mop. All great leaders are born in the same place: serving.
6. Godly leaders are willing to do what others won’t (vs. 4-5). No one else stepped forward to wash anyone else’s feet. They were content leaving things just as they were. Genuine leaders are never content to leave things as they are. They step up and do what others are unwilling to do.
“In sharp contrast to our current selfie-society and social media mad world … JESUS just did what needed to be done and returned to His place.”
7. Godly leaders stay committed to the task even when others question or try to hinder them (vs. 6-8). Even though Peter questioned what JESUS was doing, JESUS didn’t stop what He was doing. Great leaders can’t be talked out of their tasks, pulled away from their post or lured away from leading.
8. Godly leaders take time to explain why and what they are doing (vs. 8b-10b). When someone only sees a snapshot, there’s no way they can see the big picture. That’s why JESUS took time to explain to Peter and why great leaders will always do the same.
9. Godly leaders know everyone won’t respond to their leadership (vs. 11). Judas was there, but he really wasn’t. He had walked alongside the other disciples for quite a while and followed along, but was never really following JESUS. Every godly leader will have detractors, defectors and betrayers.
10. Godly leaders don’t serve to call attention to themselves. They just serve (vs. 12). In sharp contrast to our current selfie-society and social media mad world where people can’t wait to post a picture of themselves that makes them look more attractive than they are or purports to present them as genuinely and sincerely serving the Lord or others, JESUS just did what needed to be done and returned to His place.
11. Godly leaders take advantage of every occasion to teach those who are following (vs. 12c-13a). Great leaders are always aware of those “teachable moments” that can be captured to help change the lives of those they are privileged to lead.
12. Godly leaders lead by example (vs. 14-15). Genuine leaders never ask anyone else to do what they are not already doing. They lead the way. That’s what leaders do.
13. Godly leaders encourage others to follow their example (vs. 14 & 17). Genuine leaders understand the task isn’t done until they have reproduced themselves in the lives of others. (See 2 Timothy 2:2.)
We’re always looking for more leaders to help us in the incredible work God has given us to do. Over the years we’ve found the best candidates are usually the ones with a broom, a mop or a towel in their hand.
What’s in your hands?
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.