Wednesday, June 19, 2013

12 Lessons From Leaders In The Bible - Part 4

In my last three posts we have looked at ten different leaders from the Bible and what we can learn from them.  I had originally planned for this to be a three part series. However, because my last post was a little longer, I decided to extend this to a four part series.  Today we will look at two more Biblical Leaders and lessons we can learn from their lives.

11. Peter: Leaders Fail Forward
When Jesus was arrested and being questioned, Peter, the most well-known of Jesus’ disciples is in the courtyard just outside where Jesus is being held.  Three times he is confronted with being a disciple of Jesus and three times Peter denies being affiliated with Jesus in any way.  What makes this failure even worse is that just hours prior to his denying Jesus, Peter assured Jesus that he would never deny him even to the death. Jesus responded to Peter by saying, “before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.”  When the rooster crowed,  Peter realized what he had done and wept bitterly. Fast forward a few weeks and we see Peter in Acts chapter 2, giving the first sermon after Jesus’ ascension, to a crowd of thousands of people.  Peter has emerged as the leader of the early church.  Leaders learn from their failings.  They understand that failure is a part of life and leadership.  They make the most of the failure by gleaning lessons from it and they pick themselves back up and move on having learned from their failure.

12. Paul: Leaders Are Passionate For What They Do and Believe.
When you read the life, ministry, and teaching of the Apostle Paul, one thing stands out very quickly - he is consumed with his mission.  As a Pharisee, he zealously and violently opposes the spread of Christianity.  Paul said himself that he was zealous to kill and imprison Christians.  In Acts chapter 9 while Paul is on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, he has an encounter with the risen Jesus, resulting in a transformed life and a new purpose.  As passionate as he was about destroying Christianity he is now just as passionate for the spread of the gospel.  Paul travels across the known world establishing churches.  Leaders are passionately driven by a sense of purpose.  Leaders have a fire lit under them and are consumed with their mission in life.  There is no place for apathy in the life of a leader. Leaders are passionate about what they believe and what they are doing.

Friday, June 7, 2013

12 Lessons From Leaders in the Bible - Part 3

The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible.  Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of Scripture.  For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.  In my last two posts we looked at seven of these great leaders and what we can learn from them.  Here are three more Bible leaders we can learn from.

8. Daniel: Leaders maintain their values and principles even when it will cost them.
Many of us are at least familiar with the account of Daniel in the lion’s den. In the sixth chapter of Daniel, Daniel is a highly esteemed government official whose colleagues become jealous. Seeking to get rid of him and knowing that he is a man of faith and prayer, his colleagues convince the king to enact an official decree stating that prayer can be made to no god except to the king himself.  When Daniel found out about the law he had to decide whether he would submit to the kings edict or stay true to his convictions.  He continues to pray to God as he had always done.  When he is caught, the king, albeit reluctantly, is forced to throw Daniel to the lions.  The next morning, the king finds Daniel alive and unharmed.  Daniel’s faith, values, and principles is what made him a great leader to begin with.  And he maintained those values, even when he knew it would cost him. Great leaders have values and principles that enable them to make decisions quickly and confidently, even when those decisions may require a great cost.

9. John the Baptist: Great leaders are great followers.
In Matthew 3 people are coming out in throngs to hear John the Baptist preach.  At this point he had already developed a strong following and had a number of disciples.  He is baptizing scores of people and preaching about the coming of Jesus the Messiah.  John knew that his purpose and role was to point people to and prepare people for the coming Messiah.  And when Jesus came John humbly submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. While John was baptizing, Jesus approaches him.  John laid his ego aside and publicly said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you.”  At another time when Jesus’ popularity was growing John’s disciples approached John and pointed it out.  John, once again demonstrated humility and respect and said, “He must increase but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).  Great leaders “yield to stronger leaders when they appear because the cause is more important than personal popularity” (John Maxwell).

10. Jesus: Leaders are servants.
The greatest leader in the world proved himself to be the greatest servant in the world.  One of the most powerful images in the life of Jesus is when he washed the feet of his disciples in John 13. When he finished, he said to them, “You call me teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus, of course, isn’t talking about feet. He’s talking about servant-leadership. Jesus always focused on the needs of others.  Great leaders focus on serving those who follow them. One day when Jesus caught his disciples arguing over who was the greatest among them, he didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great, he gave them a formula for greatness: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).  Great leaders are servant leaders.