There are bad leaders and there are Gospel-affected leaders.
Bad leaders are going somewhere, and they are effectively taking people with them. However, such leaders lack godly vision, godly compassion, godly character, godly knowledge, and Spirit-empowered skill. As a result of such leadership, they prove to displease the Father and harm their followers. Jesus portrayed such bad leaders as blind men successfully leading blind followers towards a pit of tragedy. Such was the legacy of many temporal Caesars and religious Pharisees. Hell will be hotter for these hellish leaders.
In contrast, there are Gospel-affected leaders. [At first, I labeled them good leaders, but my Bible tells me there are no good leaders, no not one. Therefore a change in my terminology resulted.] Like the aforementioned evil leaders, Gospel-affected leaders are likewise bad; they too naturally lack godly vision, godly compassion, godly character, godly knowledge, and Spirit-empowered skill. However, they have been supernaturally, permanently, and perfectly conformed to the image of Christ, and this results in their being daily transformed by Christ’s Spirit into Christ’s holy image. Consequently, they are going somewhere (godly vision), and on their journey they are taking people with them (influence). They are being led while leading themselves and leading others, and in the process they are maturing in godly compassion, godly character, godly knowledge, and Spirit-empowered skill. And this all results in increased blessings for them and their followers as they are led by God and leading others down the road less traveled.
Therefore, my Gospel-affected friends called to be led and called to be leaders, what ought to be our regular practice? To lead we need to read and plead. Consider Proverbs 3:1-6:
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
To lead properly we must open God’s book and read his Word. Regularly, we must digest his inspired, inerrant, authoritative, infallible, and most-beneficial teachings. It is the manual for living, and we must consume it regularly. We know better; there is no way we will lean on our own understanding. And we must review it over and over again, for we are prone to forget that which we have previously learned. So precious is to be God’s instruction that we wear it about our necks. Wherever our heads go, their our necks go, and there God’s Word is found. God’s leaders must first be God’s followers. We must be led in order to lead. Therefore, we to lead we need to read. However, reading and learning God’s Word is not sufficient. There are many puffed-up, intellectually-bloated, theologically precise, but hard-hearted individuals found in places of leadership.
God’s commandments are to be written on our hearts; they are to be engraved deep upon our soul. From the inside, we are to find ourselves having a greater love for God, his righteous ways, and his kingdom intentions. However, we encounter a major problem here; this sort of internal affect is beytond our pay-grade or skill-level. No amount of reading, studying, writing, or external spiritual discipline can cause our hearts to be affected. Soul transformation is the work of God’s Spirit alone. He is the only one capable of performing the daily heart-surgery needed. Therefore, in combination with our reading and studying, we absolutely must meditate upon God’s teaching in a spirti of fervent prayer. We must pray continually — without ceasing. Good leaders must trust and acknowledge him. To lead we need to educate and supplicate. To lead we need to read and plead.
What will be the result of such daily reading and pleading? God’s followers and leaders will be further blessed. “Favor and good success in the sight of God and man” are promised. God will enable his friends to know his ways, desires his ways, pant for his kingdom, and discern his leading. He will delight in where he is guiding us, we will delight in his leadership, and our friends who follow will find our influcence most attractive, beneficial, and desirous.
Oh friends, why would we walk blindly?
Why would we then be blind people leading other blind people towards the pit of tragedy and destruction?
Instead, let us be led well, and then let us lead well. Let us be Gospel-affected men and women, enchanged with the Father, enlightened by his Word, engaged in conversation with him, empowered by his Spirit, effectively leading God’s family in the way we and they should go.
To lead, we need to follow.
To lead we need to read and plead.