The vision that God gave us here this year is that each one of us would be able to realize and grab hold of the fact that ‘iCan!’; to grab hold of the incredible potential that each one of our lives possess through Christ. We are being called to give God our ordinary lives and allow Him to do extraordinary things through them. So far, we’ve been learning the first step in this vision in how to stay connected with God.
This morning, I felt lead to take a break from this series and share a root value behind this vision. God’s will for us is to have a hope and a future. He desires us to be the head and not the tail, the top and not the bottom in life. However, it often seems that circumstances come our way and bully us back down to the bottom even when we feel that we are finally getting ahead in life.
This morning, we’re going to look at a few characteristics found in the lives of some great leaders of the bible. These characteristics are ones that we can all possess if we choose them. These characteristics are also what will enable us to take an active leadership position in our lives. Sure, not all of us are called to be leaders of large organizations. Not all of us are destined to rise up to be CEOs and executives of successful companies. However, all of us are called to lead to some degree in our lives. This morning, the goal is for all of us to learn Biblical characteristics of leadership that we can take an immediately apply in our own lives. These characteristics will enable each of us to lead the way to victory in our lives!
First, let’s take a look at what God’s will is for someone who is obedient to His plan. This will set His standard; the bar and the goal for each of us in life as we are simply obedient to Him.
1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
The chapter also goes on to remind us that if we choose not to obey the Lord, basically the reverse of these blessings come our way as our curse.
Now the key in receiving all of these things is simple obedience to God’s commands. These come from knowing God’s word and all of the principles found within it and living them out. None of us will ever follow them perfectly, however, this should not stop us from committing and resolving to make our best effort to do so.
Let’s now take a look at some of the characteristics found in the lives of great Bible leaders who put His word into action and became the head and not the tail and the top and not the bottom.
1. Always far sighted
Joseph comes to mind when it comes to being far sighted. Joseph was a great leader who was put in charge over all of Egypt at 30 years of age as the second-in-command to Pharaoh himself. Even his own father and family bowed down to him as God revealed to him at the age of 17 in a dream. However, this was not always the case. There were times in the life of Joseph when he hit rock bottom. What made him the great leader that he was, however, is that he never lost sight of what God had promised him. He may have hit rock bottom, but he never accepted it as his end and the destiny that God has chosen for him. Even when he was thrown into a literal pit and left for dead and later tossed in prison being accused for something that he did no wrong in, he still never gave up. He always had full faith and trust in God and knew that His plans would come to pass.
Far sighted people always see the potential in people and situations and aren’t blinded by how things currently are. Situations and circumstances may come unexpectedly and surprise them, but they never accept them as their end. They envision and plan for the future. They have hope and faith and put them into action. Sure, they face obstacles, but the persevere through them and do not lose sight of the future that they are certain of. Because of this, they are naturally encouraging and positive.
Staying far sighted keeps us on top. It enables us to be proactive instead of reactive in life. Planning for our future is what keeps us in a situation where we lend to many and borrow from no one. In our culture, this is unfortunately a rare situation to find. According to federal reserve statistics, the average person has $5,100 in consumer credit debt and that 40% of Americans overspend. In December of 2012, the federal reserve reported $2.7 trillion of total outstanding consumer credit debt. This is a clear display that the average person is failing at this principle of planning and preparing for the future.
We’re called to live differently, however. We are to keep our eyes fixed on the goal that Christ has called us to and to run it with endurance letting nothing hold us back or hinder us.
Leading the way to victory in life requires us to always remain far sighted.
Moses comes to mind when it comes to being resourceful. Moses, at 80 years of age, was commissioned to lead 600,000 men (not counting women, children, and non-Israelite families) out of the bondage of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at that time, out from under an unwilling Pharaoh. What did God give him to carry out this tremendous feat? Not thousands of armies, not a well armed and trained militia, not by the might of another nation, but simply by the staff that Moses held in his hand and the words that God gave him.
Leaders don’t grumble or complain about their lack of resources, but offer up to God what they have available and creatively use it to accomplish their task at hand.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Indeed in this warped and crooked generation, those who honor and trust God with their resources shines like the stars in the sky; bright lights against a darkened world.
The truth is that God is able to make everything out of nothing. Too often, we withhold from the Lord because of the lack that we possess and doubt in His ability instead of freely giving Him our everything and seeing what He can do with it. We already know what God is able to do because of the past great miracles found in His word. There was Moses’ manna, Elijah’s jar of flour and jug of oil, Jesus’ bread and fish, Moses’ rock at Horeb, 120 believers in Acts reaching trillions around the world including us sitting here today.
God is calling us to stop grumbling and complaining about our lack and to simply offer what we have to Him. He is then able to take it, bless it, and multiply it. This principle is by no means limited to our finances, but applies to every area of our lives.
Leading the way to victory in life requires us to be resourceful.
3. Willing to act
Abraham comes to mind when it comes to being willing to act. At 75 years of age, Abraham is told by God to leave his family, his people, and his country to go to the land which God will show him. He is promised to be a great nation and that those who bless him will be blessed and those who curse him will be cursed. He is promised that all people on earth will be blessed through him and that his name will be great and will be a blessing. Abraham went as the Lord told him to.
Abraham didn’t know exactly where he was going, exactly what paths his voyage would take him, or exactly what was going to happen along his journey. He simply did what he was asked to do; he went.
Leaders don’t wait for the full plan to be revealed to them or wait for all of the little details to be worked out. Leaders hear from God and obey. They find adventure in the unknown while remaining faithfully obedient to God who is known. Leaders are people of action and not just words. They don’t just sit around and talk about God and the great things that He can do, they have a thriving relationship with God personally and experience all of the great things that He can do. They don’t waiver in doubt because of details and how things are going to work out, they proceed ever forward and trust God to work out the details as they go.
Leading the way to victory in life requires us to be willing to act.
4. Lead by serving
Jesus comes to mind when it comes to leading by serving. Jesus, the word of God, the Creator Himself who rules over all of the universe, came to earth wrapped in flesh. He was the greatest leader that ever will exist in all of history. However, He said that He came not to be served, but to serve and to give away His life. He washed the feet of His disciples setting the example in how to be a truly great leader. He believed in people and empowered them to do what they would have never believed themselves able to do otherwise and was not threatened by their success, but He rather rejoiced in their success. Although He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He didn’t ‘lord’ over those who He was leading as we would. He showed us that true leadership is embodied within true servanthood and full humility.
We are reminded that even when we are in leadership, there are still leaders over us whom we must submit to. No matter where we find ourselves in life, we will always be simultaneously in a state of being in authority as well as being under authority. Jesus had and exercised great authority over all heaven and earth; even the winds obeyed Him. However, He also said that He only did what He saw His Heavenly Father doing. Even Jesus, while living as a man, lived in authority and also submitted to the authority over Himself.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
This applies to so many areas of life. It applies to our supervisors at work, it applies to children and their parents, it applies to the church and its leaders, it applies to citizens and government leaders. It reminds us that leaders are the ones who will give an account for their own lives and leadership; their actions are not our responsibility before God. However, submitting to the authority of those who are leading us is our responsibility before God. Rebelling against authority is never the trademark of biblical authority regardless of how evil that authority might have been.
Jesus submitted to the authority of the Sanhedrin; even paying a temple tax that He did not owe as to not offend them, David submitted to the authority of Saul, Daniel submitted to the authority of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the list goes on.
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Now, keep in mind, Paul was writing this to the church in Rome who was under the governing authority of Nero who was well known for severe persecution against Christians. It’s recorded that he even literally using impaled Christians as tiki torches to light his paths at night. Jesus said a similar statement when challenged by the Pharisees about whether it was right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar. Jesus said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.
Now, as a disclaimer, we are to submit to God’s authority first and foremost. When the two are in conflict, God’s authority trumps man’s and is the one to obey. We see this occurring frequently throughout scripture as Christians were commanded not to preach the name of Jesus, however, they never stopped doing so and even preached it all the more boldly despite being put to death as a result!
More recently, we see this same trumping of God’s authority over man’s occurring as godly men took a defensive stand against the tyranny of government which attempted to remove their God-given rights and freedoms. These men made several attempts to reconcile through the appropriate channels of authority, but finally was forced to remove themselves from under this ungodly authority and to create what we now know as the United States of America.
We must be very cautious not to be a people of rebellion against authority and as a result to bring judgment upon ourselves, but to be a people submitting to authority and reaping God’s blessings that follow it. The biblical examples that we find of great leaders, including Jesus Himself, exercised submission to authority.
Leading the way to victory in life requires us to lead by serving.
5. Fear of God, not man
Noah comes to mind when it comes to having a fear of God and not a fear of man. Noah lived during a time when God regretted having created man. God took note that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all of the time. However, there was one single man who had found favor with God who did not go along with the crowd, but stood for righteousness. Noah was asked of God to build an ark 450′ long, 75′ wide, and 45′ high. It was to hold Noah’s family of eight, seven pairs of every clean animal and one pair of every unclean animal during a worldwide flood that would wipe off every living creature from the face of the earth except what was in the ark.
Although scripture doesn’t directly indicate how long this took, Answers in Genesis’s studies estimate that this took between 55-75 years to complete. You can only imagine the ridicule that Noah would have received from man during this time. However, this did not slow down or put a stop to his work on the ark because Noah feared God and chose to obey Him regardless of what man thought of him. Of course, we should be thankful for his obedience to God because it is through Noah’s choice to be the only one to remain righteous in an unrighteous world and to be obedient in the building of the ark that we are here this morning.
Leading the way to victory in life requires us to fear God and not man.
6. Lead by example
Joshua comes to mind when it comes to leading by example. He was called by the Lord to be strong and courageous and to lead the Israelites across the flooded Jordan river and into their promised land to drive out all of their enemies and take back what was rightfully theirs. He said what they were going to do and he spent his whole life along with the people of Israel doing exactly what he said they would do. He was a man of commitment, confidence in God, integrity, and passion. When he was around 110 years of age, God had given their nation rest from their surrounding enemies and Joshua spoke to the nation and recommitted to their covenant made with God. He said:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua lead by example. All of the people knew exactly what it meant to serve the Lord because they had personally witnessed Joshua and his household serve Him. They knew of the great blessings that followed a life lived in service and obedience to God. They personally witnessed miracle after miracle as God worked with them to possess the land that was promised to them.
Leading the way to victory in life requires us to lead by example. It requires us to be people of integrity who not only talk about serving the Lord, but who follow that talk by fully committing to serve the Lord with an unquenchable passion.
As we begin to possess these various character traits of a biblical leader, we will begin walking in victory in every area of life. All of the blessings promised to us for being obedient to the Lord will surely follow us. We will be the head and not the tail, the top and not the bottom. God will transform our ordinary into His extrordinary and we will realize the fullness of declaring that ‘iCan!’.
: stay connected with God
: receive from God (spiritual gifts and every need)
: serve God and others
: reach people for Christ