If you read this blog for a while, you’ll notice that we will return often to the topic of leadership. It’s intentional. We talk about leadership so much because good leadership is valuable.
Look at the quotation at the head of this post. Leaderless groups of people generally don’t fare so well, and despite the allure of anarcho-syndicalist communes, wise leadership — as accountable and free from self-interest as possible — is useful for restraining the most destructive impulses of humanity. Good leaders help save their followers from folly and protect them from harm.
Why is leadership necessary? In a word, brokenness. We live in a world that is marred by rebellion, where most of us will take every bit of leeway we think we can get away with. If you think this is unkind or unfair, consider that no parent has to teach a toddler to throw a tantrum. It seems to come naturally to every kid. This is because each one of us comes into the world with the desire to seek our own desires — our own way — over any other authority.
The West in the twenty-first century has nearly perfected the realization of what the late Chuck Colson called the “cult of the autonomous self.” It is a spot-on reflection of the period of the biblical Judges in the Old Testament — a time where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The imperfect remedy for this time was a series of authorities referred to as judges who provided leadership to God’s chosen ones. Leadership is every bit as necessary now.
If you know you’re a leader, or if you think leadership is in your future, here are some of the principal attributes of a principled leader:
I broke this out from consistency because this idea inspired this whole post. Leading from the front means you eat your own cooking. It means you never ask a subordinate to do something you yourself wouldn’t do. It means you don’t put another’s well-being at risk if you’re not willing to take their place or join them. You set the tone and the pace for those you lead. It doesn’t matter if it’s at work, at your place of worship, in social situations, or in your family. Leading from the front is they key to being a trusted and respected leader.
Sometimes leaders have to be followers, but sometimes followers have to be leaders. When it’s your turn to lead, by all means lead. Put what you know into practice and don’t shirk the responsibility. You’ll live — and you’ll grow — and you won’t be alone.
He doesn’t simply tell his disciples to take up their cross — first he took up his. This is so unlike the armchair expert with his theoretical knowledge. Jesus showed where radical obedience to the will of God leads, and what it produces. This is our model for leadership. For the record, even if you don’t follow Jesus, you can’t deny the strength of his example.