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Christian leadership styles

By Daleen Cowgar
Christian leadership styles. CHM

How you lead people—the way you treat them—is a direct reflection of your faith. As C.S. Lewis writes, “A man whose life has been transformed by Christ cannot help but have his worldview show through.” Leadership styles, done well, are an excellent testimony for Christ.

In the Bible, we find different types of leadership styles, especially in the Old Testament. As you read through the kings of Judah and Israel listed in 1 and 2 Kings and Chronicles, you can easily tell through their leadership if they followed God or not.

Following your calling as a Christian entrepreneur often means you’ll have people working underneath you. Even if you’re the only employee at your small business, you can still lead those around you through your example. As Christians, we’re all leaders. We impact and influence others by the way we live our lives.

By developing qualities of a good leader—taking the role of a servant, supporting your employees as they work, and putting their best interest first—you can transform your workplace and display the love and unity of Christ.

Servant leadership

Jesus was a servant leader. The Savior of the world came down to live among us and lead us to the Father. He modeled a new type of leadership and demonstrated qualities of servant leadership that were uncommon to the people of His day. He did this by serving those who followed Him: washing their feet [John 13:1-17, NIV], comforting them, and growing them in faith. His focus was on them first and how He could equip them to fulfill their God-given purposes.

Following in Jesus’ footsteps requires us to display that same servant leadership style and demonstrate genuine love for those working under us.

Think about your employees or staff. How can you pray for them? Encourage them? Equip them? Ask God to provide meaningful ways for you to serve them and minister to them.

Transformational leadership

Transformational leaders understand the power of collaboration and a well-equipped workforce. Nehemiah, in the Bible, gives us a great example of a transformational style of leadership.

An ordinary person—a cupbearer tasting the Persian king’s wine to guard against assassination attempts—Nehemiah followed God’s prompting and brought together the scattered Israelite people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. By developing leadership skills while serving the king, Nehemiah was positioned to lead this assignment.

Despite many dangers, challenges, and direct opposition, Nehemiah created unity and did what many thought was impossible. How did he do this?

He provided the vision of a rebuilt Jerusalem and helped the disoriented Israelites catch his passion and courage. He listened to them as they worked, making sure they had the resources they needed. When enemies came, he freed resources to protect those working on the walls. Finally, he led by doing what he asked the Israelites to do: He worked on the wall himself, donated his money to help the poor and needy, prayed before making decisions, and held fast to God’s laws.

By being the change he wanted to see, Nehemiah’s leadership qualities helped the Israelites transform and rebuild a city that should have stayed destroyed.

“The theme of each leadership style can be summed up in two words: Love people.”

Benevolent leadership

Benevolent leadership characteristics include working for the benefit of all, exemplified by Timothy, the recipient of 1 and 2 Timothy.

Though we don’t have many details about Timothy’s life, we do know that he was highly thought of. He was young when Paul is writing to him, but as the pastor at Ephesus, he showed leadership traits by actively taking Paul’s advice to “set the believers an example” [1 Timothy 4:12, ESV].

In his work as a pastor, Timothy had to defend his church against false teachers, standing firm in his faith and leading others according to the Scriptures. This he did by example with love, wisdom, and sound teachings.

Leadership and transformation

The theme of each leadership style can be summed up in two words: Love people.

When we’ve been changed and transformed by our faith in Christ and His love, our leadership style becomes influenced by this transformation.

We now have a desire to please God by serving others, being an agent for good and real change, and generously working for the benefit of those around us [Philippians 2:13 NLT].

Whether your leadership style leans more towards servanthood, transformation, or benevolence, the focus remains the same. Love God and love the people He created.

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Daleen Cowgar
Daleen combines her love of words and desire for truth to create content that consistently points people back to God. Through her wilderness adventures and love of the outdoors, she has a unique perspective of God's grandeur.