The Called, Chosen and Faithful Leader

The Called, Chosen and Faithful Leader
Hartwell T. Paul Davis


Leaders are made, not born. Like so many other of life’s complex issues, the question of nature vs. nurture in leadership is one that is analyzed, researched, and debated by educators, philosophers, social scientist, and even leaders themselves. Leadership has been dissected as to personality, character, and behavior. Researchers have developed test, established programs, and created the best graduate level courses to study, train, and develop leaders. While there may be differing views on what makes a leader, there appears to be consensus in all schools of leadership about one fact of leadership: Leadership is about relationship. Leadership does not exist without someone to lead and someone to follow.

The Called, Chosen, and Faithful Leader

What is leadership? John Maxwell quotes J. Oswald Sanders which states simply, “Leadership is influence” (2007, Section: God Has Already Called You to Lead). Robbins and Judge expand the definition and write, “We define leadership as the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals” (2009, p. 385). While leaders typically “have authority” and “do management”, Bolman and Deal state that leadership is distinct from authority and different from management. Bolman and Deal observe in Reframing Leadership that leadership is not something that is tangible but that exist only in relationships. It is in the perception of the engaged parties (2008, p.35).

Leaders are made, not born. While there may be differing views on what makes a leader, there appears to be consensus in all schools of leadership about this one fact: Leadership is about relationship. Leadership does not exist without someone to lead and someone to follow. We must look then to the development of relationship from which the roles of leader and follower emerge. There can be no better example of the making of leaders then in looking at Jesus and His disciples. While some leaders change companies, and a few have changed nations, Jesus developed leaders that changed the world.

Jesus, the Master Symbolic Leader

If leaders are made and not born, the question must be asked, how are they made, and who makes them? In the narrowest sense a leader can be made by any foolish person that chooses to not think for themselves and simply follows the influence of someone else, whether it is right or wrong. Jesus speaks to this kind of relationship when he speaks of “blind leaders of the blind” (Matt. 15:14, KJV). Unfortunately there are those that are self-appointed leaders that use force or persuasion to gain power and to keep power. Such was the case of a man called Diotrephes who according to John “loved to have the preeminence” (3 John 1:9, KJV). Then you have those that are appointed by men to positional power, as happens in political patronage; or born into positional power as in the case of royalty. But these are not real leaders that will produce meaningful results. Usually some catastrophe or negative consequence will result that brings down the leader. It is not to say that some leaders don’t emerge out of such circumstances, but the actual leadership develops in-spite of how a person got there, not because of patronage or royalty.

Real leaders are produced by relationship, transformed by relationship, and are sustained by relationship and most always it is the product of mentoring by other leaders. Gabriella Salvatore echoes the mantra that leaders are developed, not born, and contends that no one is better qualified to teach leadership skills than leaders themselves (2009, p.38).

The foundations of leadership, according to Salvatore, include four relationship management competencies: communication, coaching, influence, and managing for change (p.38). Salvatore shares some of the formal knowledge transfer practices of the mentor, including coaching, stretch assignments, job shadowing, and video libraries of “war stories”. These align well with the practices and rules of symbolic leadership suggested by Bolman and Deal which are:

* Lead by example: Salvatore’s job shadowing
* Use symbols to capture attention: a part of coaching
* Frame experience: what experience is gained on those “stretch assignments”?
* Communicate a vision
* Tell stories. It isn’t always a video library but this is an important part of mentoring.

To reiterate a review of the article by Bolman and Deal which was presented to the BUSI501 class, Jesus was the master of the five practices of symbolic leadership (Davis, 2009, Thread Week One).

* Jesus led by example. He made disciples of men.
* Jesus used symbols to capture attention. These were his miracles.
* Symbolic leaders frame experience. Jesus spoke to every day issues using every day examples. Each day was a new day of learning for his disciples because they followed Jesus and experienced what He experienced.
* Symbolic leaders communicate a vision. His message was eternal life and a heavenly kingdom. He prepared his disciples for service.
* Symbolic leaders tell stories. These were his parables.

How does one become a leader?

The Called Leader:

Leadership is a product of relationship. In order to be a leader, one must have followers; otherwise a person might simply be a manager. Robbins and Judge state that “Management consists of implementing the vision and strategy provided by leaders” (2008, p. 385). There will always be the need for leaders to develop managers. But one of the great purposes of leadership is the development of successors. Leadership development is a core strategy of succession planning. Leaders with vision do not limit their vision to one solitary life. John Maxwell list 21 qualities of great leaders. One of those qualities is the quality of vision. Maxwell shares Lessons from Abraham on Vision, and writes that a vision must, “be bigger than the leader” (Notes, Gen. 17:1-8, KJV). Maxwell writes, “While Abraham wanted to father an heir, God wanted him to father nations” (21 Qualities, Notes on Genesis 12:1 – 22:4). Vision is a part of the calling of leadership.

There are two types of calling in the making of leaders. One is a special calling to a first in line leader. This first calling either comes from God or the calling comes from purpose, as related to human events. This is where the initial vision is received, the first inspiration, the beginning of a line of leadership. Examples of the first calling included Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Mohammad, Gandhi, Ford, Edison, and the list goes on.

Callings that result from human events are those that are not based upon a prior relationship, but the event defines the call to leadership. It is likely that even these examples are the handiwork of God. Daniel declares that it is God who sets up kings and removes kings, therefore all leaders are under the rule of God even though they may not know it (Daniel 2:20-21, KJV).

Those that found themselves in leadership by such a call include Winston Churchill, Patton, Roosevelt, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and many others who become leaders, heroes, and legends because of the purpose that became so much a part of their lives.

In the first calling, whether by God or events, the vision is revealed. In the second, the vision is transferred. That first vision is usually unique to a religious leader, company founder, inventor, church planter, entrepreneur, warrior-leader, or father of a nation. Succeeding leaders get parts or perhaps all of that vision in the rite of succession, and their share of the vision may be modified: grow, change, or even replaced.

The second calling is the calling of succession leaders by leaders to carry on the first leader’s vision. Great examples of the second calling are Abraham to Isaac, and then Isaac to Jacob; Moses to Joshua; David to Solomon; Jesus to his disciples, and Jesus to Paul. In each case, the purpose of the calling was to pass on the first leader’s vision. The same is true in the corporate world as leaders are called by other leaders to carry forward the vision of growth, the great ideas, or the life’s purpose of the first leader.

The Chosen Leader:

Jesus declares “many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14, KJV). Sometimes, leaders are selected by followers, but most of the time, leaders are selected by leaders. In the Bible, we find examples of both processes, but what is interesting is that the follower selected leader actually performed management, while leader selected leaders became leaders.

An example of follower selected leaders (actually managers), is the selection of deacons in the first church. There was a need to organize and manage the distribution of food and goods to the widows of the church. The gentile women felt they were being neglected (Acts 6: 1, KJV). In order to solve the problem, someone was needed to manage the daily ministrations, so the apostles gave these instructions to the people to select leaders from among the people (Acts 6: 3, KJV). These deacons were selected by their peers, and then were appointed by the apostles.

Most leaders in the church and in business are chosen by leaders. While some fundamental churches use the process of congregational vote to select pastors, the process is far from scriptural. The choosing of elders was not in the hands of the congregation, but was a responsibility of the apostles and elders. Paul and Barnabas were both apostles (Acts 14:14, KJV) who then ordained elders in each of the churches under their ministry (Acts 14: 21-23, KJV). We later find Titus ordaining elders in every city on Crete (Titus 1:5, KJV), and Timothy receiving instructions from Paul on the process of ordaining both elders and deacons (I Timothy 3, KJV). Leadership development in the Bible was leader to leader, not follower to leader. Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you” (John 15:16, KJV). Succession planning is used by church leaders rarely, and as a result, churches are often required to do the best they can in finding a new pastor. Outgoing pastors or organizational church leaders should be responsible for guiding a process for bringing in new leadership into local churches.

The same is true in the business world. This has given rise to the increased growth of leadership development programs in business organizations. Robbins and Judge write,

Organizations, in aggregate, spend billions of dollars, yen, and euros on leadership training and development. These efforts take many forms – from $50,000 executive leadership programs offered by universities such as Harvard to sailing experiences at the Outward Bound School. Business schools, including some elite programs, such as Dartmouth, MIT, and Stanford, are placing renewed emphasis on leadership development (2008, p. 436).

Robbins and Judge however make an interesting observation. “First let us recognize the obvious. People are not equally trainable” (2008, p. 436). This conclusion means that choosing a leader means more than looking at the academics of leadership development courses and classroom earned credentials. Sally Kalin observes that many leadership programs turn out administrators rather than leaders. Some programs however, such as the Harvard Leadership Institute, goes beyond most others by forcing participants “to examine their own leadership styles through a path of self discovery covering three themes: how you lead, what you lead, and where you lead from” (Kalin, 2008, p. 266).

There are great program that have turned out great leaders, and to some degree these are modeled after the strictest leadership development program ever imagined. The leadership program of Jesus is a model for leaders that hope to bring about great change. This program required meeting the tests of discipleship, which required operating in the realm of faith, and also the development of character.

Commitment: The Test of Discipleship:

Being chosen for Jesus’ leadership development program required the disciples to make the most extraordinary commitment – everything they possessed. Chosen leaders are committed leaders. Consider the minimum requirement for the Lord’s disciples:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14: 26-27, KJV).

Throughout the discipleship process, Jesus constantly addressed the priorities required to be great leaders. While the text uses language that might be misunderstood by some, the disciples understood the principle that commitment to Jesus Christ, to a mission, to a vision means that these become first in their hearts and minds. Even the idea of success and wealth was not a concept of the Lord’s school of leadership. Jesus said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon [money]” (Matthew 6:24, KJV). The emphasis on wealth in many business school programs is detrimental in developing true leaders.

Unfortunately many business schools today emphasize personal reward rather than personal sacrifice. Joel Padony, in writing for the Harvard Business Review, comments, “Unless America’s business schools make radical changes, society will become convinced that MBAs work to serve only their self interest” (2009, Heading). Padony contrast business schools from schools that are really turning out professionals and great leaders by looking at what needs to be emphasized. Followers do not trust leaders when they believe the leader’s motive is more about money and self-interest than the interest of the followers. Padony suggest,

In order to reduce people’s distrust, business schools need to show that they value what society values. They need to teach the principles, ethics, and attention to detail that are the essential components of leadership, and they need to place a greater emphasis on leadership’s responsibilities — not just its rewards. (2009, p. 64)

Chosen leaders must be committed to the vision, not the rewards, and Jesus only chose one “thief” for his purposes (John 12:6, KJV). He did not choose Judas for leadership. Commitment will always be one of the first qualities looked for in leadership. Because Jesus knew that the ultimate sacrifice was to be paid by those he chose, he required the ultimate commitment.

Trichinotis and Scheiner contend that commitment is a part of the ultimate mission of a leader, and write,

The ultimate mission of the committed leader is not found in personal gold medals. Rather it is rooted in a personal commitment based on one simple philosophy: “Service before self.” “Service before self” (better known as the second Air Force core value) is more plainly defined as putting personal agendas aside for the good of the organization and the people within an organization (1996, p. 39).

The element of commitment is the first and foremost requirement of all leaders that are choosing leaders to succeed them.
The chosen leader must live in the realm of faith. Human nature is to live within the comfort zone of experience and tradition. This includes the path of least resistance in what we choose to believe or decisions that we make. Attributed to Francis Bacon is this observation: “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” In other words, our minds, thoughts, and beliefs are constrained by what Steven Sample calls our “binary thinking” (2008, p. 115). These are the yes or no, true or false, right or wrong, and good or bad kinds of thinking. One that every leader contends with is the “can or can’t” thinking that happens in the decision making process. Binary thinking is easy, quick, and much less work than really having to process data from many sources and find answers in ways never experienced before.

Binary thinking is the norm; “most people are binary and instant in their judgments” (Sample, 2008, p. 115). It is thinking that is constrained by the tendency “to believe the last thing heard” (p. 117), be influenced by the congenital naysayers (p. 119), and think in well worn ruts (p. 124). It is the kind of thinking that is fraught with skepticism, which is a condition that borders on unbelief. The definition of skepticism includes “systematic doubt” (Merriam-Webster Online).

A part of the leadership development program of Jesus was to constantly challenge the disciples to live in the realm of faith – the ability to think outside of the box. Jesus used miracles to grow the faith of the disciples. Because Jesus was to later “endue them with power from on high”, he must first walk them through the experiences of miracles where overcoming doubt and the constraints of the natural senses could be accomplished. We know of only one early learner which was Peter, the only one willing to step out of the boat and walk on water (Matthew 14: 22 – 30, KJV) and he was the one that eventually received the “keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19, KJV).

Chosen leaders are those that have proven they have ability for creative thinking; that can make tough decisions that are contrary to conventional wisdom, and most importantly, can pass the “challenge testing” of their mentors.

The Chosen Leader Must Exemplify Character Over Personality:

Frank Damazio hits home on this point, particularly in reference to the church leadership of today.

Tragically, today’s over-emphasis on academic degrees has contributed to the pride, hypocrisy, and spiritual lifelessness in many of the Church’s leaders. As we shall see in the Bible, God does not emphasize the academic development of His leaders as much as their development in character, wisdom, and piety (Damazio, 1988, p.2).

Even the secular world regards character as the most important quality of a leader. Alan Davis of Massey University writes,

Like never before our organizations need authentic leadership. Leadership characterized by consistency of character, not text book techniques; visibility to the people affected by their decisions; leadership that understands the power of symbols that demonstrate alignment between what leaders promise and what the organization does. (Davis, 2009, p.1).

David Benzel’s observes in Shedding the Superman Cape, “Credibility is the key ingredient to leadership” (2008, p. 12). The ability to trust a leader does not come from academic success, personality, or even business achievement but comes from authenticity and integrity. Damazio defines character as “the sum total of all the negative and positive qualities in a person’s life, exemplified by one’s thoughts, values, motivations, attitudes, feelings and actions” (1988, p. 106). Notice that this definition begins with what are the internals of a person and ends with actions.

Character becomes the most noticeable part of leadership. David Zumwalt call it executive presence and says, “Executive presence arises from a multifaceted set of skills. The leader must exude authenticity, which includes confidence, competence, and the ability to engage emotionally, as well.” (Long, 2009, p.16). Zumwalt further comments “executive presence combines the heart and mind of the leader” (2009, p. 16). All of this means simply that character shows.

This is the reason why specific requirements for eldership were outlined in the Bible. These did not include credentials, talent, personality, speaking ability, or pedigree. Instead requirements included being above reproach, blameless, not greedy, patient, and more (I Timothy 3: 1-7, KJV). It was all about character on the inside that could be seen on the outside.

Anticipate and Meet Challenges:

“Michael Sales reminds business leaders that organizations are multifaceted social systems that take on a life of their own, and that system dynamics influence individual behavior more than leaders realize” (Gallos, 2008, p. 156). A reminder — leadership is about influence and relationship. The leadership role is fraught with dynamics within the system that is not experienced by others in the relationship. For one, leaders are often the visible symbol of what an organization is all about. Susan Cramm writes, “You’re not paranoid. Everyone is watching you” and then observes, “There is power in all the attention – if you use it wisely” (2007, p. 32). Handling the power of leadership is one of the major challenges for those “who have arrived”.

Power without character is destructive. The character of wisdom, love, patience, humility, gentleness, kindness, longsuffering – elements of the fruit of the spirit – must be present in a leader to prevent corruption and destructive behavior. Hugh Rawson quotes one of the most famous comments on the subject by Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Rawson, 2008, p. 16). Recent news events are full of scandals in government including the use of power and influence to manipulate senate seats: as in the Illinois governor’s office. American citizens are sick of hearing about earmarks, influence peddling, and the back room politics in Washington. A Gallup poll in 2008 gave Congress an approval rating of only 14%, the lowest since 1992 (Saad, 2008, p. 1).
Sales writes, “Effective leadership requires more of us: looking below the surface of everyday events, understanding the impact of system dynamics on individual behavior, and learning to leverage the power and possibility of organizational role and position” (2008, p. 180). This means the effective leader needs to understand more about the relationships inherit with the position of leadership and how the leadership position effects the behavior of others.

The Jesus Model: Inverted Authority:

Jesus understood the nature of jealousy and self-interest and addressed it early with his disciples. When the mother of James and John came to Jesus and asked that her sons could be seated next to Jesus in heaven, the other disciples were offended (Matthew 20: 20 – 28, KJV). Jesus then contrasted his concept of leadership with the known leadership of the day,

Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV).

In the book Restoring the Five Fold Ministry, this is called inverted authority, which is the kind of authority required for leadership in the church (Davis, 2004, p.2). It is a servant-leader model that is recognized in the business world as well as the church world. Emma De Vita sums up a quote from a little known book Servant-Leadership stating, “True leaders must also be servants. Great leaders must serve their communities and earn loyalty by involvement rather than imposition” (2008, p. 25). “Servant-leadership”, a phrase coined by Robert Greenleaf, is a concept that influenced Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People and John Carver’s Boards That Make A Difference according to John Cassel and Tim Holt (2008, p. 34). But the concept originated with God when he dethroned Moses to make him the leader of the children of Israel (Davis, 2004, p. 3).

Servant Leadership:

Servant leadership is a leadership style that focuses on building relationship and leading from core values of care, concern, and charity (love). Kent Keith posits that with so much advice available about leadership that new leaders should start with the basic principles of servant-leadership (2009, p. 18). This means that leaders should strengthen relationships with their colleagues. These three principles begin with “go to work to serve others” (p.18). This is the real reason why the leadership roles exist. The leader that believes that leadership is “all about the leader” is missing the point about relationship and influence.

A second basic part of servant leadership is that leaders must “listen to colleagues and customers to identify and meet their needs” (Kent, 2009, p. 18). The servant leader operates as a mentor, guide, counselor, advisor, and sharer of vision. Terry Bean, an old colleague of mine, had great insight into understanding relationships by simply asking the question, “Whose needs are being met?” Kent suggests that a servant leader should not begin with their own answers but should be first asking others about their needs, wants, and desires (2009, p. 18). Servant leaders focus on the value of the relationship to those they lead.

Thirdly, servant leaders “develop colleagues”, says Kent (2009, p. 19). If leadership exists because of relationship, growth in leadership comes with growth in relationship. Many good leaders fail by working themselves out of a job. Kent is writing about servant leadership in the context of sales when he says, “Your ability to serve customers will only be as good as your colleagues” (p. 19), but the basic principle is that your efforts at leadership are always measured by the results of others. Whether the metric is production, achievement, or sales dollars, it reflects back to the leader which gets the recognition for the group. Servant leaders grow the value of their own leadership by leading others into the realm of success.

The Power of Position:

There is always trouble when leadership develops an “us or them” mentality. This is the kind of thinking that grew into a hierarchical structure as the church went from a collegial eldership structure to one where “us” and “them” became known as the “clergy and laity”. Frank Damazio writes,

In their application to the Church of Jesus Christ, the terms “clergy” and “laity” contain seeds both of truth and falsehood. It is true that the New Testament presents two general distinctions of ministry. But in doing so, the New Testament never uses the words “clergy” and “laity” or their root meanings (1988, p.3).

What is interesting is that the term clergy, while applied to ordained church leadership, actually comes from the Old English word meaning “clerk” (Damazio, 1988, p.3). The word “clerk” was derived from the Latin “clericus” which really meant a person who was a scholar in a religious order. But Jesus did not put scholarship before character. Nor did Jesus establish a “clergy” position to rule over the church body.

In reality positional power in which power is defined by the position or office is not the same as leadership. Positional power is what fosters the “us” and “them” mentality within the minds of those subject to it. It does not in itself provide confidence, trust, or respect – all which are needed by leaders. There is no doubt leverage for getting things done or effecting management efficiency, and the best use of positional power is in management, not leadership.

Michael Sales recognizes that positional power exist in most organizations, and the “us and thems” are evident. The four fundamental actors in organizational systems are the tops, bottoms, middles, and environmental players, according to Sales (2008, p. 182). But what Sales also points out is that in each of these are subsystems also made up of tops, bottoms, and middles. This suggests that leadership is something that permeates throughout an organization at all levels and is not the private domain of a few folks in positions of authority. The challenge for organizations to become robust and dynamic is to balance the elements of differentiation, homogenization, integration, and individuation among members of the organization.

This challenge to leadership then is to not define relationships as “us and them”, but rather as “we” are partners and members of one another. “Partnership is at the heart of robust systems” according to Sales (2008, p. 194). That is the concept that Jesus really had in mind when he established the church. It is not an up and down vertical relationship between leaders and followers, but rather a horizontal relationship. The vertical axis of relationship is all members under one head, Jesus Christ. The horizontal axis of relationship means that all the rest from leaders to followers are equal in status. Leadership in this context is not a position, but simply a gift of skills to be used to the benefit of the whole organization. This concept is supported by Romans 12 where the “gift” to rule is included with other gifts within the body (Romans 12: 6 – 8, KJV).

This differs to some degree in business, but the concept of being partners and members is a part of recognizing the four basic elements of what people are all about in the robust organization (Sales, 2008, p. 191). Differentiation says that people are different and leaders accept differences in people rather than using them as reasons to create more “them” stereotypes. Everyone is treated fairly and with dignity without respect to their differences.

Homogenization refers to commonality (Sales, 2008, p. 191). Everyone, including leaders and followers, are alike in their humanness. All of us have feelings, wants, and needs. This is true of each of us, and the leaders must see how “we” are bound together by the common need to be loved and cared for.

Integration means that “we” all share in a mission, vision, purpose, and direction. There are no fringe elements that cause some to be classified as “thems”. Any organization is only as strong as its weakest link.

Individuation was true even among the disciples. Peter was fiery while John was caring. Thomas was a doubter. James was a disciple of influence. Like in the body, the differences in each member contributed to its own “position power”. Paul wrote, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary” (I Cor. 12:22, KJV).

Making It Happen: The Faithful Leader:

In the end, elevation comes when the called and chosen leader remains faithful to the vision received at the calling. According to Andre Delbecq, “Mission, vision, and purpose are brought to life by the sense of calling that organizational leaders possess” (2008, 489). The calling of a leader becomes the source of the vision, and all of this happens inside of the heart and mind of the leader. This is spiritual leadership which is spiritually inspired and it must be spiritually maintained.

It is the heart and soul of a leader that determines the values and character that ultimately determine the culture of any organization. Milliman and Ferguson sees spiritual leadership as “the values, attitudes, and behaviors necessary to intrinsically motivate ones’ self and others so that they have a sense of spiritual survival through calling and membership” (2008, p. 19). Because the leader’s values play such an important part of the overall organizational culture, any failure in leadership has a corresponding negative effect upon the organization. Delbecq points out, “We also know that better than half the strategic decisions made fail because of a leader’s human weakness” (2008, p. 493). Within a business or any organization, the principles of spiritual warfare are at work, and this includes a great truth from scripture, “Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered” (Zech. 13:7, KJV).

Faithfulness In The Face Of Failure:

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman reviewed the results of two studies of more than 11,000 leaders and identified Ten Fatal Flaws that Derail Leaders. They compared the results of fired leaders with ineffective leaders and concluded the ten most common short coming in leadership were:

* Lacking energy and enthusiasm
* Accepting mediocre performance
* Lacking clear direction and vision
* Having poor judgment
* Lack of collaboration with others
* Do not “walk the talk”
* Resist new ideas
* Do not learn from mistakes
* Lack interpersonal skills
* Failure to develop others

Each of these flaws in leadership can be equated with spiritual deficiencies for which the Bible offers curative suggestions. For example, the Lord created a Sabbath day of rest knowing the physical and spiritual needs of man must both be attended to in a day given to communion with God for restoration. The Lord offers wisdom for those with poor judgment. We read in scripture, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5, KJV). Every deficiency has an answer, but in order to keep from failing, the leader must become aware of them. Milligan and Ferguson write, “These sound like obvious flaws that any leader would try to fix. But the ineffective leaders we studied were often unaware that they exhibited these behaviors” (2008, p. 18).

However, great leaders are not those that have never failed or suffered with personal deficiency; great leaders are those who overcame by faithfully using the strengths they had while working on the flaws. They most often sought the spiritual resources of God or others to receive spiritual nourishment in order to tackle their failings. Many leaders use the path of prayer, almost all successful leaders take instruction from mentors or self-help books, and some use other spiritual techniques whether it is a sabbatical or times of meditation. The most important factor is that all leaders who succeed have “faith in the face of failure”. Their faith is evident in the conduct of faithfulness which simply says, “I will not give up!”

Jim Sullivan readily admits that his failings included several of the Ten Fatal Flaws mentioned by Zenger and Folkman (2008, p. 18). His failure list included ignoring the advice of others, not recognizing top talent, and partnering with dishonest people (Sullivan, 2009, p. 14). But Sullivan observes a point that should be well remembered, “Experience teaches only the teachable” (p.14). Sullivan quotes an old Asian proverb, “fall down seven times, but stand up eight”. Sullivan might have recognized that this was also written by Solomon “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16, KJV).

It is just such a promise that sustained David in the time of his greatest failure. He is best remembered for the one big failure of his life in the matter of Bathsheba, but David’s ability to pick himself up after such a long fall was surely because he had learned through many smaller experiences the value of relying on God. David writes,

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand (Psalms 37: 23-24, KJV).

Nourishing the Soul of the Leader:

Andre Delbecq makes a powerful observation, “When the outer environment is complex, it becomes critical that the inner remain centered and balanced” (2008, p. 497). While Delbecq contends that the “litmus test of authentic spirituality in all traditions is attention to those in need” (p. 500), it is important that the leader include himself in the list. Jesus was known for his prayer life, often times praying all night (Luke 6:12, KJV). He not only did this to nourish his own soul but as an example to his disciples. At one point Jesus instructed his disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31, KJV). There are many instructions throughout the New Testament to speak to reviving our souls, fighting spiritual warfare, obtaining peace, the necessity of prayer, and staying faithful. Many leaders have even learned the value of applying Christian principles to guiding their own spirituality in the secular workplace.


Leadership is a process. Leadership theories have looked at behavior, character, and personality. Studies of leadership have focused on charisma, spirituality, motivation, introversion, extroversion and all possibilities to define leadership, many times with the hope that doing so will help organizations make the right leadership choices. In the end, the process is the same on earth as it is in heaven; it is a matter of being one of the called, chosen, and faithful. Leadership more than anything is about the heart of the leader, and it was Talleyrand who summed up leadership from the eyes of those being led; “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep” (Robbins and Judge, 2009, p. 382).


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This article “The Called, Chosen and Faithful Leader” by Hartwell T. Paul Davis was excerpted from: Personal Research Paper prepared for Liberty University. August 2009. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

This author may not be an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”