What makes a leader? What do we look for in his qualities? There are certain types of personalities that we gravitate to, who we look up to, who we admire; but does that make them a leader? I once heard it said that if you turn around and find that no one is following you, you are not a leader. This implies that you must have followers to qualify as a leader. However, the Kingdom of Yahweh operates on different statutes and a much different perspective. It does not measure by appearance but my content, and a leader in the Kingdom leads by example, whether it is popular or not. A leader in the Kingdom leads by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, with no compromise, even if they must stand alone on the mountain and shout out the way of the Lord to a people who refuse to listen. He must still lead.
The people of Israel cried out for a leader, a king, just like all the other nations. If we look close enough we will see that Yahweh gave them exactly what they were looking for in appearance:
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul.There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:1-2)
Saul came from a wealthy and powerful family. He himself looked to be a mighty man, handsome, standing a head taller than anyone around him. He certainly looked the part, but he was a reluctant king. When it came time for his inauguration he hid among the baggage. They actually had to go looking for him. There were flaws in this man's character which began to show under the strain of leadership. It got to the point where Yahweh had to reject him as the king and he warned Samuel the prophet:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Then Yahweh turned around and chose the opposite to Saul; a shepherd boy of no great standing, the youngest of all the sons. But he knew David's heart which was one of trust and praise. David was not afraid to trust the Lord with his life as he stepped out to do his duty as a shepherd and this held true for him as the king. David blew it many times as a leader but Yahweh knew his heart and covered him by grace.
There is a huge emphasis on leadership training in the Church but much of it is based on the standards of this world. The first quality of a leader in the Church must be the same quality of David, to be in love with Jesus to the point of trusting him with your life enough to fearlessly step out to do your duty. From this love springs obedience and a desire to please Jesus. There are a lot of stresses to being a leader of people but none greater than when people refuse to follow. Sometimes as a leader in the Church we have to stand against the sin and incorrect thinking of the people. We have to be willing to bring correction and refuse to go with the flow, the popular opinion. It probably means you will never have a church of 10,000 people but that isn't our purpose anyway.
We have to stop judging who qualifies as leader by mere appearances. We have to stop looking for education degrees, leadership degrees, business degrees, good looks, charm, and clothing. There are a lot of poor leaders who are investing in the right clothes, shoes, cars so they can have the appearance of success, but the only success that matters is our love, trust and obedience to Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord. If you have been called then you have been equipped and you have a word to share with the nations. Trust the Lord, walk in obedience, serve him with all you have, and everything else will follow.