Believe it or not we are constantly influenced by our environment. Most of us tend to feel that we are “independent thinkers” and immune to persuasion from the world but you might be surprised how much you really absorb from the constant noise that broacasts at us from all directions. We can be especially influenced by people who are in our lives on a regular basis whether negative or positive.
Likewise, We all influence others. As Christians and leaders, we have been called to guide and direct those around us with our attitudes, words, and actions.
There are three keys to Biblical leadership acccording to the book of Galatians that I want to cover:
These keys are three of the nine “fruit of the spirit”
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
The fruit of the spirit are “The nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.” These are the outward manifestations of a solid inner spiritual walk with our heavenly Father.
In each of our lives there have been people who exhibited these principles toward us. Likewise we can show people the same.
The first principle we will study is Longsuffering:
Long suffering is patience. It is bearing one another’s burdens. It may mean praying for someone, being there for someone, or even just listening. There are many great examples of this in my life. I have been allowed to grow in many categories as I was shown this patience and love.
Ephesians 4:2-3 – With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In order to have someone’s abilities, we also have to learn to accept their shortcomings. The result of this attitude is unity.
Colossians 1:11 – Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
God strengthens us with patience and longsuffering and we can have joy as we live that principle.
Longsuffering is a renewed mind concept. (Romans 12:2) It may not always feel natural, but it is an attribute that we can develop. It begins with removing the focus from ourselves and showing genuine concern for the lives of other people.
In addition to the literal act of being kind, gentleness means to have integrity and moral goodness. It also means brotherly love, or may also be described as usefulness.
Gentleness is what leads a person to change. God’s gentleness and grace allows us to change and grow naturally. He has forgiven our transgressions through the accomplishments of Christ and removed all sin, guilt, and condemnation from our lives. In turn, this is also how we lead people- with a kind attitude and lots of forgiveness.
Let’s look at what made the tremendous King David so successful.
II Samuel 22:36-37 – Thou [God] hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip
David was known for being a great warrior and leader for God but it was God’s gentleness that made David great. He led his people by the example of God’s goodness to him. We are called to lead as David did, with un-wavering courage but a gentle heart.
I and II Timothy are leadership epistles. II Timothy 2:24 reminds us for whom we speak and the attitude we should carry. Paul is reminding Timothy of this principle as he writes this letter:
II Timothy 2:24 – And the servant [doulōs] of the Lord must not strive [Machomai – engage in battle, fight, contend, dispute] but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
The word “servant” in this verse is doulōs which is someone who has made the freewill choice to serve God. In Bible times a doulōs servant would be a “bonded servant” and have all of their needs taken care of by the person entrusted to their care. It was not slavery or opression but a willing servant to the house of their master. The analogy fits perfectly with the concept of being servants of God today.
One of the requirements of being a leader and a servant of God is that we are gentle and understanding, as well as apt to teach (willing and ready to teach when the need arises) [1 Timothy 3:2]
Temperance is another word for self-control. This is a great key as a leader because anything that a leader does is amplified. Let’s take for instance the President of the United States.
When The President does something good, it’s all people talk about, and they are a hero! In contrast, if that leader does something wrong, everyone talks about it negatively for weeks, months, even years! Ad nauseum! (People still talk about Watergate 40+ years later) A leader’s choices are amplified because those choices affect the people he or she leads which makes it so much more important for leaders to have unwavering integrity.
Likewise, we have a responsibility to keep our lives in check and exercise self-control or temperance. We are not leading a country, but we are called to lead God’s people; which is an even greater responsibility when it comes to the grand scheme of eternity.
The discipline of self is possibly the most difficult of disciplines. This is because our old-man nature would have us doing the opposite. [Ephesians 4:22] This world subtly tries to influence us to drift apart from God and the framework of His Word. It is our job to keep ourselves in check. No one else can carry that responsibility.
I Corinthians 9:25 – And every man that striveth for the mastery (as in an athletic contest) is temperate in all things. [egkrateuomai: to exercise self-control] Now they [those striving in athletic competitions] do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
This life is not a physical competition, but a spiritual one. Every day we are living in this world, we have the ability to win spiritually.
Think of how much discipline it takes to be an Olympic athlete. It means daily discipline in their eating habits, exercise, thoughts, and even who they associate with. Olympians generally don’t practice their sport with non-Olympians… simply because they will instinctively drop their game to match those around them. If they want to win, they need to be around people who challenge them to win.
Likewise we should choose our association wisely. If we spend the bulk of our time around negative people, we will instinctively begin to think the same way. In this regard it takes much effort and temperance to surround ourselves with people wo help us to be our best.
II Timothy 2:22 – Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
We are not just encouraged to avoid….but to FLEE youthful lusts. This is not only referring to the sexual category (although that is the connotation) it also refers to desires for material possessions and other distractions as well.
Anything that is a distraction from our walk with God falls into this category.
The benefits of keeping ourselves disciplined are eternal rewards and an incorruptible crown (as in I Corinthians 9:25 from earlier) Temperance is one of the fruit (or evidences) of the spirit that is exhibited as we walk with our heavenly Father each day.
In this study we looked at Longsuffering which is patience. In order to have someone’s positive qualities we sometimes need to accept their shortcomings.
Next we looked at Gentleness which is kindness and love shown toward others. We can have the courage of David but also the gentleness that made him a great leader.
Temperance is self control. In order to be able to lead others we need to be accountable to ourselves and to those we lead. This means that we are the same person behind closed doors as we are in public. A great leader is a transparent leader.
With these qualities, or fruit of the spirit in mind, we can continue to walk as the leaders that God has called us to be, as sons and daughters, earning eternal rewards with Him.
God Bless You!
From a January 2010 Teaching [brackets indicate my comments] All scriptures KJV unless otherwise noted Quotes from The Way Magazine, January/February 2010