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Recognizing Leaders

What does a good leader really look like? Seriously. We all know lots of leaders, but are they good leaders? Osama bin Laden was said to be a charismatic leader, but he certainly wasn’t good. Are the leaders we look up to effective leaders? I can think of several politicians who are esteemed as leaders, but who accomplish little aside from padding their pockets. They certainly aren’t effective.

There is much chatter in the “church world” about leadership. The Church has seen leaders who have advanced the kingdom, and  leaders who have blemished and stained her.  It seems that we would do well to identify some traits of a mature, godly leader so that we know what to look for. I’ll get the conversation rolling…


The older I get, the more I look for–and desire for myself–wisdom. Proverbs has a lot to say about wisdom: it comes from the Lord (2:6), it is supreme and therefore we should get it (4:7), it is more precious than rubies (8:11). The first deacons were chosen because of their wisdom (Acts 6:3). Knowledge is great, but wisdom tells you how to use it effectively. Interestingly, people who possess great wisdom are often quiet… and perhaps overlooked as potential leaders.


The most effective leaders I know have a lifelong love for learning. The need to appear all-knowing is not part of their makeup; these leaders realize that there is always something new to learn that will help them be better at what they do and who they are. They are teachable, which often points to a humble spirit.

Values Relationship

Show me a person who values people over programs, relationships over material things, and I will bet my last dollar that this person can become a good and effective leader! Programs and buildings are temporal. Programs are subject to the winds of change and will lose their effectiveness in time; any material thing will eventually decay. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). Later, in his first letter, John tells us that the world and its desires will pass away, but the one who does the will of God (loves others) lives forever (2:17). John learned well from Jesus!

These are just three of the things that I consider essential to good, effective leadership. What would you add?

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