7 Things That Make a Leader

by Feb 26, 2020

7 Things That Make a Leader

by Feb 26, 2020

7 Things That Make a Leader

by Feb 26, 2020

Every Christian is called to be a leader. Every one of us is called to make an impact in our families, with our friends, in our offices and on our job sites, in our classrooms, and in our church.

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a leader. I didn’t either, growing up, until a middle school teacher named Mr. McCoy challenged me to run for student government. I said, “Yeah, but I’m not really a leader. I’d rather kick back and let other people do stuff.” Mr. McCoy put a hand on my shoulder, and he looked me in the eye and said, “Listen, Matt. Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” I said, “Whoa. That’s really deep. OK, I’ll do it.”

I found out later that he stole that speech from Vince Lombardi. But that didn’t matter. From that point on, I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to make a difference in the world. There’s an old proverb that says, “A pessimist complains about the wind. An optimist expects the wind to change. A leader adjusts the sails.” When you see something wrong in the world, you can’t just complain about it. You can’t just wait around for someone to do something about it. You have to take action about it. That’s what leaders do.

And in 1 Timothy 3, Paul lists some of the qualities that make for leaders that make a difference. He’s speaking specifically about elders and deacons, but these qualities apply to any leader in any role. You could summarize them with 7 things:

1. Ambition
Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:1, “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” It’s OK to aspire to be a leader. It’s OK to aspire to have influence. It’s OK to have ambition, as long as it’s godly ambition. In Romans 15:20 Paul said, “My ambition is to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named.” What a great model of a godly ambition. A godly ambition is about Jesus — Paul wanted to preach the gospel of Jesus. And a godly ambition is about other people — Paul wanted to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named. He didn’t want to preach the gospel to make a name for himself, he wanted to bless people who hadn’t been blessed yet. Godly ambition is a good thing.

2. Hard Work
Paul says if you aspire to a leadership role, you desire “a noble work.” Leadership is work. It’s labor. It’s a labor of love, but it’s labor. In fact, the word for deacon, diakonos, literally means “through the dust.” It’s talking about the dust that gets kicked up by a busy servant, back and forth. Leaders are dusty people. They work hard. The very first deacons in Acts 6 had the job of delivering food to widows. That might seem like menial work, but if a little old auntie is counting on you to bring her food every day, she’s going to starve if you’re not on your A-game. Hard work is a prerequisite for influence.

3. Commitment to Family
Some Christian leaders have a lot of ambition, and they’re ready to put in long hours of hard work. But they feel like they need to sacrifice their family for the sake of their ministry. That’s why Paul says in verse 4 an elder “must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?)” He says in Verse 12 that deacons should be “the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently.” Because leading your own family prepares you to lead God’s family. If you don’t lead your family well, you won’t lead anyone else well.

4.Self-control
Paul says in verse 2, “Be self-controlled, sensible, respectable.” And he’s talking about self-control in verse 8 when he says, “Not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money.” Self-control means trusting God for what you need, instead of grabbing it for yourself. Like when Jesus was in the wilderness, with no food for 40 days. Satan says to him, “Hey, I know your dad told you to fast. But you don’t need to be hungry. You don’t deserve to be hungry! Just turn these rocks into bread!” What did Jesus say? “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In other words, “The last word I got from the mouth of God told me to fast. And I haven’t got any word since then. So I’m going to keep trusting God to give me what I need. I’ll let him worry about the bread.” That’s self-control, and it’s a requirement for leaders.

5. Gentleness
Paul says in verse 3 that a leader is “not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome.” Another way to say gentleness is selflessness. Or even self-forgetfulness. Gentleness means focusing on others so much that you forget to focus on yourself. Bullies are focused on themselves. They’re focused on getting what they want, no matter who they have to hurt. Quarrelsome people are focused on themselves. They’re focused on getting other people to agree with them or act like them. Gentle people forget about themselves. They’re so confident in their standing before God that they’re freed to bless the people around them.

6. Love for the Word
Paul says in verse 2 that an elder needs to be able to teach. Teach what? Quantum mechanics? Probably not. Teach the Word! In verse 9 he says deacons should “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” If you’re going to hold the mystery of the faith and teach the mystery of the faith, you need to understand the mystery of the faith. Which means you need to study your Bible. You’ve got 1000 pages full of insights that explain the mystery of the faith. 1000 pages full of answers to all your questions about the mystery of the faith. You can’t feed people with food you don’t have, so if you’re going to be a leader? You’re going to be chewing on God’s word all the time. You’re going to have a love for God’s word.

7. Love for the World
That’s the idea behind the word hospitable in verse 2. The Greek word is philoxenon, which literally means “Love of the stranger.” That’s hard! It’s easy to like people who are like you. People who like the same music, sports, or movies. People who look like you, talk like you, dress like you. People who grew up in the same place as you. Went to the same school as you. It’s a lot hard to love people who are different from you. But true hospitality means assuming the best of people who are different. Showing love and respect toward people who are different. Taking time to listen to people who are different.

And what happens when you do all that? In verse 7 Paul says you’ll have “a good reputation among outsiders.” In verse 12 he says you’ll acquire “a good standing for yourself.” Because that’s what makes a leader. And that’s how God will change the world through you.