There is the cliché view of CEOs as the kind of people who are hard-driving, hard drinking, hard-nosed people who trample over everyone on the way up and seem to believe that they have to keep everyone else down when they seek to rise in the company or they will lose their position of power. Every year at Christmas, the Hallmark Channel has at least one new movie where this hard-nosed leader suddenly sees the light and everything changes. We all ooh and aah at the thought, but deep down, we know that if a person is going to get to the top in business, they have to claw and fight others on the way up and suppress any possible opposition when they are at the top.
Except, that’s not really true. Most business consultants today will talk not about climbing and clawing, but about caring and helping along the way. It seems like a revolutionary idea: build a business or build a career by caring about others on the journey and helping others succeed while you are seeking success yourself. What an amazing concept. Where would anyone get that idea? Paul talked about leadership in the church, and his direction for choosing church leaders sounds amazingly like modern leadership practices. “Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:8-9)
The word “rather” points to a comparison. The comparison Paul makes is to the church leader who might be like the clichéd business leader – overbearing, hard drinking, and dishonest. When choosing church leaders, we shouldn’t always look to someone whom the world considers successful, we need to look at their character. Are they the kind of person who gets ahead by putting others down, or do they get ahead by riding a rising tide that they help to create? Are they first followers of Christ with sound doctrine? This may sound judgmental, but I think it’s using godly discernment when I say that there are many Christian “leaders” out there who don’t have sound doctrine. In many cases they appointed themselves leaders and gathered others who were swayed by a simple doctrine that appeared to make life easy. They were encouraged by unsound doctrine, followed the wrong path, and made a self-appointed leader appear to be a great man of God. We need sound doctrine in the church. We need people who love what is good, who are self-controlled (not self-indulgent), upright, holy (separated for God alone), disciplined, and true to God’s word. I don’t know if you will find anyone who fits all of these descriptions – I know that I don’t – but you can see from their hearts if you really look what kind of leaders they truly are.
How do we exercise godly discernment in regards to leaders? We must study God’s word ourselves and compare what our leaders say and do with what the Bible says. We must pray and be so in tune with God that our spirit recognizes when something is wrong. We must seek God’s direction in developing these leadership traits so that we can recognize when others don’t have them. The bonus of all of this, incidentally, is that the traits that would make us good leaders in church are the very traits that will make us successful in the secular world as well. True success comes not at the cost of others, but as a benefit to others. Leading in God’s ways makes us a blessing to others, not a stumbling block.
Lord, look at my life. Where I exhibit qualities of godly leadership, please strengthen them. Where I exhibit leadership qualities that are opposed to Your qualities, change me and mold me into being the man of God I ought to be. As I lead others, let me lead them to You by my words and my deeds.