Published November 12, 2021
Barry Cameron
Barry Cameron


The church has always faced the constant challenge of raising up genuine, godly leaders. But the challenge and the need is greater today than it has ever been.

The greatest example of leadership the world has ever known is Jesus Christ. 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 traits of genuine, godly leadership from the life of our Lord. (See John 13:1-17.)

Before you read the principles below, take a moment and read the text from John 13:1-17. For everyone in leadership and those who aspire to lead, here you will find the 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 entirely 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, hand them a broom. All great leaders are born in the same place: serving.

6.  Godly leaders are willing to do what others aren’t (vs. 4-5). No one else stepped forward to wash the others’ feet. They were content leaving things 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.

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.

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 understand 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, 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). Jesus 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 to do what they are not already doing. That’s why they’re leaders.

13.  Godly leaders encourage others to follow their example (vs. 14 & 17). Genuine leaders understand the task is not done until they have reproduced themselves in the lives of others (See 2 Timothy 2:2).

Here at Crossroads, we’re always looking for more leaders to help us in the great work God has called us to do. Over the years, we’ve found the best candidates are usually the ones with a broom in their hand … or a towel.

What’s in your hand?

©  2021. Barry L. Cameron