Character Traits of a Leader

Exalting Christ in community and mission

Character Traits of a Leader

How would you describe your favorite leader?  What are the top 3 qualities that come to mind for this person?  So far in the book of 1st Samuel, we have seen the caricature of the Lord’s type of leader continue to be fleshed out either in leaders who follow the Lord (Samuel and Jonathan), or through their antithesis in ones who do not (Saul, sons of Eli).  As I ponder those “Top 3” for me, I’d have to land on Vision, Humility and Loyalty.

With regard to vision, a leader need not, and can’t be, perfect.  However, he knows the perfect end.  He knows where the team needs to be headed, and he points them to that goal. He knows the hill that needs to be taken and will marshal the resources to that end.  Ultimately, the Christian leader knows that the goal is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the due North to which he leads.

With regard to humility, a proud leader who leads for their own interest is hard to follow.  Instead, a leader who realizes that the position they hold is a gift, as are the talents and skills that enable them to remain in that position, is one that is easy to follow.  The former exhausts his people; the latter refreshes them.  When a leader is too prideful to ask for forgiveness, they quickly lose capital with their team.  When a leader makes an error and is humble enough to confess and admit it, they are easy to forgive.

With regard to loyalty, a godly leader pours himself out for his people because of his relationship and care for them.  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 5:13).  That kind of loyalty in turn causes others to follow and to be loyal in return.  Jonathan’s comrades were willing to face death themselves on his behalf as seen in their loyal response to ransom him and defy Saul’s order.

In the life of Jonathan, we see a leader who truly had these three.  He had vision to seek the glory of the Lord, he was humble enough to realize that his ability to succeed was based on God’s favor, and he reaped the benefit of the loyalty of his men who were willing to risk death on his behalf.  As we saw last week, this passage (and these 3 qualities) clearly points us to Christ as our ultimate leader.  Jesus’ primary vision was to glorify His father, His humility was reflected in his constant focus on others, and He was loyal to those the Father had given into His hand.  Thank you, Lord, for leaders like Jonathan who point us to Christ in both who they are and what they do.

Rev. Darol Timberlake, Assistant Pastor