The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible. Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of the scriptures. For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.
1. Noah: Leaders do what’s right even when no one else is.
In Genesis 6, because of humanity’s wickedness God decides to blot out the human race and start over. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” because he was “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Gen 6:8-9). “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Gen 7:1). In a world of unrighteousness Noah was willing to stand alone and do what was right because it was right. Leaders do what’s right even when no one else does.
2. Abraham: Leaders take risks.
“The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1) Abraham lived in Ur in Chaldea with his family. God tells him to leave his homeland and take his family with him and go to a land which God will lead him to. God does not tell Abraham where He is sending him. He simply tells Abraham to go. To put it another way, Abraham is instructed to leave his comfort zone and march into unknown territory. Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” Leaders are willing to take risks in order to grow to their maximum potential.
3. Joseph: Leaders maintain integrity.
The story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37 is powerful. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal. He was falsely accused and thrown into prison because he refused to sleep with his owners wife. Leaders are consistently faced with circumstances which tests their integrity. Although Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, he maintained his values. Two full years passed before Joseph was presented with an opportunity to get out. Ultimately, Joseph became the leader of all Egypt–second only to the Pharaoh. Because he maintained his integrity God used him to save an entire race of people.
4. Moses: Leaders can take criticism.
Leaders are loyal to their followers even when their followers complain and criticize. When Moses was leading the Israelite’s in the wilderness, numerous times they complained and blamed God and/or him for their hardship. Several times God wanted to wipe the people out and start over. But Moses interceded for the people and prayed for God to have mercy on them. Most people would have said, “Ok, God, wipe them out.” Moses demonstrates that effective leaders love and care for their people even when the people are unlovely and criticize them.