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10 Leadership Lessons From the Proverbs

5. Great Leaders Are Fair and Just

If a king faithfully judges the poor,
   his throne will be established forever.
(Proverbs 29:14)

In a kingdom, wherever poverty exists, especially when others are living in abundance, it is invariably a result of the injustice of the king. Great leaders are equally concerned about the well-being and success of everyone under their care or in their sphere of influence.  

6. Great Leaders Are Emotionally Mature

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
   but a wise man quietly holds it back.
(Proverbs 29:11)

I’ve often heard it said, “Ministry would be easy if it weren’t for the people.” Usually the veteran leader who utters such a sentiment is only half joking at the moment it passes through his lips. 

Pastors and leaders love their people. But sometimes their people act foolishly, sinfully, or in ways that hurt or downright infuriate their leaders. 

Wise leaders know that while their anger might be warranted, they must be incredibly careful about how they express it. A leader can lose hard-won credibility in an instant with an unfiltered outburst of rage. Wise leaders express their frustration, anger, or disappointment in constructive ways. Sometimes, that means biting your tongue in the moment. 

7. Great Leaders Look out for Those Who Can’t Look out for Themselves  

Open your mouth for the mute,
   for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously,
   defend the rights of the poor and needy.
(Proverbs 31:8-9)

As integral as the causes of justice and mercy are to the mission of the church, unless senior leaders care deeply about them, the church or ministry you lead will never do as much as it could have to speak on behalf of those who have no voice. 

Great leaders champion the cause of the impoverished and oppressed, mobilizing people to rise to these challenges. Championing the causes of justice and mercy often requires that leaders cash in some of their leadership capital, and they may even incur criticism. Nevertheless, this is the call of leadership.  

8. Wise Leaders Don’t Try To Lead People Who Don’t Want To Be Led

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
   for he will despise the good sense of your words.
(Proverbs 23:9)

Certain people you lead just need to hear hard truths and for you to be patient with them as they progress toward a better tomorrow. But then there are other people who you really shouldn’t waste your breath on. 

Wise leaders learn to discern the difference between someone who needs extra grace in the path of being led and discipled, and those who simply do not want to be led. 

9. Great Leaders Tackle Ambitious Goals

A wise man scales the city of the mighty
   and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
(Proverbs 21:22

One of the key roles of a leader is to call people to do things that they otherwise might not have done, or even that they might not have previously thought possible. Leaders reframe reality for those they lead, set ambitious goals, cast compelling vision, and help people step into everything that God created them to be. 

10. Wise Leaders Plan Ahead

Know well the condition of your flocks,
   and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever;
   and does a crown endure to all generations?
(Proverbs 27:23-24)

As much as young leaders are aware of the reality that they aren’t going to live forever, they also know that time is on their side. Nevertheless, the bill will eventually come due on problems and challenges you defer.