The Bible is not a self-help book given to us to help us become better people, better leaders, or better at whatever it is we attempt. If it is about leadership, it is about God’s rule and reign and His relentless pursuit of people. At the same time, the Bible is incredibly practical and offers us wisdom on how to live life well. Some time ago, I offered a list of ten proverbs for leaders, from the Book of Proverbs. With some added commentary, here are six important reminders for leaders from Proverbs.
1. Character matters.
Wicked behavior is detestable to kings, since a throne is established through righteousness. (Proverbs 16:12)
Wise leaders detest lapses in integrity and character, and this must include their own lives. Character matters for leaders because without character, there is no credibility.
2. Loyalty works both ways.
Loyalty and faithfulness guard a king; through loyalty he maintains his throne. (Proverbs 20:28)
Leaders wisely long for loyalty, to have people around them who want their good and are committed for a long season. Loyalty must work both ways. A leader who demands loyalty lacks integrity if the leader does not give loyalty to the team.
3. We can’t follow (or even know) our own hearts.
As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings cannot be investigated. (Proverbs 25:3)
“Follow your heart” is extremely cruel counsel because our hearts deceive us, lie to us, and constantly change. This is true of kings too. We must seek to follow God, not ourselves.
4. Wise leaders bring clarity, not chaos.
When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures. (Proverbs 28:2)
If a leader does not give clear direction, many people will create their own direction, and chaos is always the result. The result of many mini-visions in an organization or ministry is chaos. Leaders are responsible for clarity.
5. To whom a leader listens matters greatly.
If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials will be wicked. (Proverbs 29:12)
If a leader listens to the wrong people, everyone suffers. The wrong people around the leader will always corrupt the culture of the team and the collective character of the leadership.
6. Leadership positions must be used to help, not harm.
A destitute leader who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no food. (Proverbs 28:3)
We are in our roles to help people, not harm them. If we don’t use our positions to bless those who are hurting and oppressed, we should not be in our positions.