Ever wonder where Jesus got his training to be a leader? Yes, he was God in the flesh, but he chose to limit his powers while on earth and became a servant who demonstrated what it looks like to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. His knowledge of leadership came from watching his parents and others who had an influence on him. We can’t go back to the 1st century and do that. However, his knowledge of leadership also came from the Hebrew scriptures (aka Old Testament) and we can read that.
When you consider that every book in the Bible was written by a leader (someone who influences others), about leaders, for leaders, and with inspiration from the Creator of all leaders, then we can approach the Bible as a guide for improving our leadership.
There are countless approaches to reading and learning from scripture. Sometimes you just want to soak in a few words. Other times, you may be preparing to teach. Other times, you are looking for answers. And if you want to read the Bible like a leader, you can approach any passage with these three questions:
Who is this passage teaching me to BE as a leader?
What is this passage teaching me to DO as a leader?
Where is this passage teaching me to GO as a leader?
So often, leadership training–even in the church–focuses only on the DO. And while that is important, that is not the whole picture. What we do and how we do it is a result of WHO we are on the inside. So, if we seldom focus on our internal, spiritual development, our outward abilities will be hindered from growth. (See my previous posts about growing in our Spiritual Intelligence.)
Let me demonstrate how we can approach a passage–one that Jesus would’ve read–as a leader looking for ways to develop as a leader. I encourage you to read all of Psalm 89, but I’ll just use an excerpt here.
Psalm 89:1-4 (from the Common English Bible via BibleGateway.com)
A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of the Lord’s loyal love forever.
I will proclaim your faithfulness
with my own mouth
from one generation to the next.
2 That’s why I say,
“Your loyal love is rightly built—forever!
You establish your faithfulness in heaven.”
3 You said, “I made a covenant with my chosen one;
I promised my servant David:
4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever;
I will build up your throne from one generation to the next.’” Selah
I would ask myself these questions:
Who is this passage teaching me to BE?
First, I notice the word “maskil” and discover it means “instruction.” Next, I see it was written by a man named Ethan, and glancing over the whole psalm, I see that Ethan wrote about God and his servant David. If Ethan is writing a passage for instruction, then he was a man of influence. If he’s writing about God and David, then he’s writing about other influencers.
In these first four verses, I see that as a leader/influencer I must be a worshiper of God and sing God’s praises. I need to be someone who sees God as my leader and my place as a humble servant, which speaks to issues of the heart–my attitude toward God, myself, and others. I need to be a faithful person who teaches the next generation how to praise God. I see that if I want to demonstrate godly characteristics I need to be someone who is faithful, stands behind my word and promises, and builds up other people for their success. I need to be someone who loves with loyalty.
And that is just in the first four verses! The whole psalm is 52 verses and would probably make a great year-long project with a verse each week as a focus on what kind of leader I need to be.
Do you get the idea? Jesus would’ve been familiar with this psalm. The psalms were the hymnbook of the Jewish people. They were memorized and used in worship. So, if Jesus read, memorized, and sang these passages, then so should I.
In the next post, I’ll talk about how we can approach a passage as a leader asking, “What is this passage teaching me to DO as a leader?”
Join the conversation in the Comment section: Since we can’t really know another person’s inner qualities, we have to observe their actions that reveal their inner qualities. So, what actions have you admired in other leaders and what inner qualities do you think they represent?
*The Hebrew Scriptures have been available for more than 2,000 years.