Summary: To be an effective leader people can trust, we must be above reproach in our marriages, minds and manner.
The preacher was wired for sound with a lapel mike, and as he preached, he moved briskly about the platform, jerking the mike cord as he went. Then he moved to one side, getting wound up in the cord and nearly tripping before jerking it again.
After several circles and jerks, a little girl in the third pew leaned toward her mother and whispered, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?” (David L. Roper, Judsonia, Arkansas, “Kids of the Kingdom,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
I suppose that’s the concern of many people when they think about their leaders: If he gets loose, will he hurt us? People are looking for somebody they can trust. People are looking for somebody that will guide them to a better life, not somebody who will make things worse.
The question is, “Who can we trust to lead us in the right direction?” Or perhaps a better question is, “Are YOU a leader others can trust?”
The Army War College asked that question of the soldiers in Iraq just a few years ago. Actually they asked those soldiers to rate the major generals in Iraq anonymously, answering the question, “What makes a good leader?” Their responses, in order of importance, were:
1) Keeps cool under pressure.
2) Clearly explains missions, standards, and priorities.
3) Sees the big picture; provides context and perspective. &
4) Makes tough, sound decisions on time.
Retired General Walter Ulmer, one of the study’s authors, said, “One thing we found is that it’s still easier to teach technical skills than to teach people how to gain trust and build teams.” (Lyric Wallwork, Parade, 7-10-05, p.10; www.PreachingToday.com)
Those are the qualities of a good leader on the battlefield, but what about the qualities of a good leader in life? What qualities are needed to gain trust and build teams in other contexts, such as our families, our church, or in the community where we live?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Timothy 3, 1 Timothy 3, where one of the greatest Christian leaders of all time, the Apostle Paul, lists those qualities of a leader people can trust.
1 Timothy 3:1-2a Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, a he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach. (NIV)
If you want to be a good leader, a guide others can trust, then you must…
BE ABOVE REPROACH.
You must behave in such a way that there is no cause for blame. We’re not talking about perfection here – no man is sinless until he gets to heaven. What we are talking about is standing blameless before a watching world. Like Plato said, “When men speak ill of you, so live that nobody will believe them.”
Colonel George Washington Goethals had to contend with many problems of geography and climate when he built the Panama Canal. He also had to endure the carping criticism of countless busybodies back home who freely predicted he would never get the job done. But George Washington Goethals kept on going without saying a word.
“Aren’t you going to answer your critics?” someone asked him.
“In time,” said Goethals.
“The great engineer smiled. “With the canal,” he replied.
A good leader doesn’t need to answer his critics. His life will do it for him. If you want to be an effective leader, you must be above reproach overall. First of all, you must…
BE ABOVE REPROACH IN YOUR MARRIAGE.
You must be loyally devoted to only one woman – and that woman better be your wife.
In verse 2, the Apostle Paul says, “The overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife." (NIV)
There is no other woman in a good leader’s life, except his wife. There is no other woman in his sites. There is no other woman even in his dreams.
Dr. Robertson McQuilkin used to be the president of Columbia Bible College, until his wife entered into the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In March 1990, Dr. McQuilkin announced his resignation in a letter with these words:
“My dear wife, Muriel, has been in failing mental health for about eight years. So far I have been able to carry both her ever-growing needs and my leadership responsibilities at CBC. But recently it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time she is with me and almost none of the time I am away from her. It is not just “discontent.” She is filled with fear – even terror – that she has lost me and always goes in search of me when I leave home. Then she may be full of anger when she cannot get to me. So it is clear that she needs me now, full-time.