If there is one ingredient that is essential to the success of an organization, it is leadership. Whether it is a business, church, athletic team, military unit, or home, the secret of progress usually rests with those who are in charge—the leaders.

Our world abounds with information on the subject of leadership. This data is communicated through films, video tapes, DVDs, seminars, conferences, and books—all designed to help someone become a better leader. Sometimes the promises conveyed are trustworthy; however, more often than not, we are simply left with another set of techniques that frustrates and overwhelms us rather than giving freedom and confidence.

How can we become better leaders? What is leadership? A simple definition of leadership is “inspiring influence.” Those who lead with the greatest degree of success are able to light the spark that prompts others toward cooperation, hard work, and if necessary, personal sacrifice.

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However, we should not assume that there is only one style of leadership. Some people are hard-charging, prima donna-like leaders who rely almost exclusively on outside motivation. Others lead in a very laid-back and quiet fashion, never raising their voices above a conversational tone. Yet both styles can be equally effective and inspiring. Compelling leaders can be found with various kinds of temperaments. In fact, I believe all of us are leaders to some degree—at work, church, and school, and with family and friends.

The Bible has much to say about leadership. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1–12, the Apostle Paul shows us a leadership style that works, though it is rarely explained and seldom modeled. Paul suggests four principles of leadership in these verses:

  1.  Sensitivity to the Needs of Others (v. 9). Leaders should try to cultivate a selfless, sensitive, and tender care for those who follow them.
  2. Affection for People (v. 8a). Paul had a deep affection for the Thessalonians. He treated people not as a means to an end but as valuable in and of themselves. Leaders should love people in practical and appropriate ways.
  3. Authenticity of Life (vv. 8b–10). Paul’s life was transparent and authentic.
  4. Enthusiastic in Affirmation (vv. 11–12). People need enthusiastic support, affirmation, and encouragement.

Our ultimate objective as spiritual leaders should be to equip and encourage people to “… live lives worthy of God, who calls [them] into His kingdom and glory” (v. 12).

By David W. Graves