Summary: Spiritual leaders learn, grow, and continue to change until they have the character God requires. This is what makes them successful in leadership. Good character is not optional for leaders. It is essential. Christian leaders lead people to God. They
Characteristics of Great Leaders
“Character is like bells. They ring out sweet notes, but when you touch them accidentally, they still resound with sweet music.” Unknown
Spiritual leaders learn, grow, and continue to change until they have the character God requires. This is what makes them successful in leadership.
Good character is not optional for leaders. It is essential. Christian leaders lead people to God. They should be good examples to the people they lead.
This chapter discusses a number of character traits of great leaders. It is not a complete list as there are many other good character traits that can be attributed to spiritual leaders.
1. Great leaders are flexible
“The bend at the end of the road is not the end of the road, unless you refuse to take the turn.” – Anonymous
Flexibility refers to a leader’s ability to adapt and adjust to a changing environment. Among the variety of tasks for which leaders are responsible, is influencing others and setting goals. Both these tasks require a leader to adapt to and create change. In order to influence others, strong leaders adapt to the different people with whom they interact. In order to set goals, leaders are constantly learning of the changes occurring in their work environment.
Strong leaders stay ahead of the changes that are occurring in the world around them. Without flexibility leaders are limited in the number of situations in which they are successful and the number of people with whom they can work. Sometimes better results can be obtained when not insisting on perfection or even on complete agreement.
2. Great leaders encourage others
1 Thessalonians 3:2 - And sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith.
While it is possible to lead without encouraging, good leaders have learned to use this important spiritual tool. Strong leaders are those who, through encouragement, can restore confidence and enthusiasm to a group of people who are discouraged and depressed and remind others that failure is not the end of the world.
Since followers are bound to fail often, the role of encourager is crucial to the leader’s ability to maintain morale. Encouragement coming from a leader often has more impact for good than that coming from others.
3. Great leaders are visionaries
Proverbs 29:18 - Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Great spiritual leaders lead by communicating their vision clearly to others. This is a vision which they have received through divine revelation and it is often a strategy for the future based on Biblical principles.
It takes courage, conviction, and commitment to follow a vision. Usually followers of visionaries accept the leader's vision as their own. They find themselves highly motivated to attain the vision, usually without much consideration for personal gain.
4. Great leaders endure persecution
2 Timothy 2:3 - You therefore must endure hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
There is a price to be paid to be an effective leader and this includes hardships. Those who lead often suffer more than others.
Great leaders endure persecution for their witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Suffering and persecution form part of following Jesus.
Leaders know how to avoid focusing only on their own suffering even during times of intense pain and they are able to keep their eyes on their spiritual goals. Leaders who lose their composure when suffering usually forfeit influence with those they lead.
5. Great leaders are good listeners
James 1:19 - So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
A good listener does not only listen to words being said but also to the words not being said. They are able to hear those things that are not verbalized.
6. Great leaders develop others
Matthew 28:19–20 - “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
A leader who develops other leaders shows spiritual maturity and does not feel threatened by others. This also ensures that a legacy of real Christian leadership is left for others to follow.
7. Great leaders produce results
Matthew 7:20 - Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Leaders must achieve results. This is the vital purpose of leadership and vision. It adds credibility and substance and it brings success, reward, and recognition.
Great leaders do not just set the example for others to follow but they also play a big role in achieving the goals they have set for themselves. Through their leadership skills, they maintain a high level of performance and are able to help keep their teams motivated even when faced with a seemingly impossible situation.