John Maxwell, the well-known leadership expert, once said, “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”
As Spirit-filled believers, we are supernaturally equipped. Not only have we been personally empowered, but we’ve also received the ability to empower others.
The Word of God declares that we are all kings and priests; thus, we are all called to be leaders.1 Our first domain—learning to rule over our old nature and to mature—is often the most difficult. When we prove faithful with that, God often gives us a larger responsibility.2 Whether our area of influence is similar to that of one lovely lady who attends my church and feels called by God to pull the weeds in neglected areas of our community, or that of international ministries, successful leaders empower others through their submission to the Lord and righteous living.
Jesus taught his disciples that power and authority result from submission to Him and to others:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28; NKJV)
Jesus served. He healed the sick, forgave sins, raised the dead, washed the feet of His disciples, and drank the bitter cup of the cross. He was submissive to His heavenly Father and submissive to the needs of others. Good leadership means that we seek to advance the Kingdom and not ourselves. The apostle James admonished, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10; NKJV).
We are to empower others to become disciples, not “groupies.” One purpose of leadership is to encourage the development of individual spiritual gifts and ministry, as opposed to spiritually cloning a bunch of people with identical strengths and values. People who are trained under an effective leader will feel free to be themselves, rather than pressured to be exactly like their leader.
Excellence in leadership also requires excellence in righteousness. Because all Christians are leaders, all Christians are also role models. When we live righteously, we let our light shine before men that they may glorify our heavenly Father (see Matthew 5:16).
Jesus has declared Himself our role model: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'" (Matthew 16:24; NKJV; emphasis added).
Paul later wrote to the believers in Corinth, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1; NKJV). If you were at a formal dinner, etiquette requires the guests to keep their eyes on the hostess and follow her lead, so the correct procedure is followed and the meal flows with dignity and consideration for one another. Similarly, we must keep our eyes on the Lord, knowing that others are keeping their eyes on us, so God’s business flows with dignity and consideration for others.
Good leaders empower others through submission and right living. Isaiah 32:1-2 illustrates the result:
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, And princes will rule with justice. A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
As a king and a priest of the most High God, may each of us become a great rock in this weary land.
Scripture references for additional study:
Revelation 1:6; 5:10