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Not every effective leader is a godly leader. Hitler was highly effective at motivating others, yet he was evil and unimaginably destructive.

The first reason for knowing the characteristics of godly leadership is so you do not mistakenly follow ungodly leaders. An example of this is the Jonestown affair, in which over 900 followers committed mass suicide under cult leader Jim Jones' direction.

It was tragic that a man, so deceived, led those people off to their deaths. But even more tragic was that all those people followed him unquestioningly.

In order to grow as a leader, you must be able to think and evaluate leadership on your own. You must know what kind of leadership you are committing to. Learning the characteristics of godly leadership will prevent you from being led off like those people in the Jim Jones cult.

The second reason for knowing the characteristics of godly leadership is so that you can evaluate your own leadership development. You are called to be a leader, so you must have some measure for evaluating your development as a leader.

Well, what are the characteristics of godly leaders?

Final Authority
The first and most basic characteristic of scriptural leadership is that the Word of God must be the final authority in your decision-making process. Not external circumstances, not what you see with your natural eyes, not the prevailing policies and practices of the moment, but the Word of God must be the final authority.

It is the same as when you are saved. You are not going to be saved by listening to someone's opinion. You are going to be saved by hearing, believing and confessing the Word of God.

The same is true in leading people or in making the decisions a leader is required to make. The Word of God has to be the final authority. It has to be the basis of our leadership. Anything else will lead to disaster.

Let us look at the familiar story of the men sent to spy out Canaan before Moses took the children of Israel into the Promised Land. I want you to see some things in this story which relate to leadership.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
(Num. 13:1-2)
Leadership Leads the Way
God told Moses to send leadership—men who were rulers among them—and Moses, by the commandment of the Lord, sent them to the wilderness of Paran. The men who were sent to spy out the land were the leaders of the children of Israel.

When the spies returned, Caleb and Joshua were so excited about what they had seen, they stood up and said, "Hey, God said we could take this land. Let's go do it." Numbers 13:30 tells us, "And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it."

How do you think he knew that? Because God had told him they would (Num. 13:2). God had already given them the land. But the men that went up with him said,
We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of they giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
(Num. 13:31-33)
Your Basis for Setting Limits
Now we know that this land was in fact populated with giants, but God had said He would give them the land in spite of the giants.

So the leadership of the children of Israel did not decide on the basis of God's Word; instead they decided on the basis of what they saw. The spies saw giants. And the result of their refusal to obey God's Word was to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

No group or organization—not even God's chosen people—can grow beyond its leadership.

For example, as a general rule, God wants the churches He initiates to explode, to take the Word to all of the world. He does not want hundreds of little "bless me" clubs scattered all over the city or the country. He wants the churches He initiates to grow by winning souls to the Lord and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

When you see a church or a ministry that is stagnant, you can know it has gone as far as its leadership has been willing to take it. The key to growth in any organization or family is simple. Leaders must base their decisions on what God says, not on what man says.

A Basis for Building
When we were planning for a new building at the church I pastor, the vice president of the leasing division of a banking institution came from Chicago to meet with the developer of the complex in which we wanted to build.

He told that developer (who happened to owe $4 million in notes which were coming up for renewal in two weeks), "If you let that church into this industrial complex, we're not going to renew those $4 million worth of notes. A church has no business being in an industrial complex. It's the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard."

Well, I met with the man and gave him a beautiful 10-minute sermon, explaining why the spot we had picked was perfect for our church. And do you know what he did? He mocked God. He even cursed and said as far as he was concerned, he would never change his mind.
So the man left, and we proceeded with our plans. We kept the architect working on the plans, and we put our "prayers" on a 24-hour watch.

About a week and a half later, for no plausible reason, the man from Bank of America called the developer and said, "Well, it's all right. Let the church in." This man had been so adamant against our having a church in that complex—there wasn't any way he was going to change his mind! But it only took about a week and a half for God to change it. A big giant fell!

A Basis for Flying
All I am saying is that you should do what God tells you, not what the world tells you, not what circumstances would seem to dictate.

When the ruler Jairus received the report that his daughter was dead, he didn't listen to that report; he listened to Jesus, who said, Believe only (Luke 8:50).

Faith is acting on your belief. The Lord will take care of the rest. When church or business leaders—or you as the leader of your family—act on what God says, not what the world says, the blessings come.

A trip we took to Washington is another good example of the blessings of following God's Word. The DC9 we wanted to charter was only half full, yet we were supposed to pay $27,000 for it. At that point we had the opportunity to gracefully cancel our plans and tell everybody, "We'll see you there. Just make your own flight plans and go on. This didn't work out." But God had spoken to us. He'd said, "Charter that jet and fill it up with believers." So we took a deep breath and went ahead and paid the costs out of the church reserves. Sure enough, every seat on that plane filled up, and we did not lose a cent. We were even able to send a lot of people free of charge.

For a leader to be blessed by God, the Word must be the final authority. In addition, he must also display the characteristics of godly leadership in all he does, and at all times.

Copyright © Mac Hammond Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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