With the elections coming up I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership and what are the characteristics of a good leader. I used to think the role of leadership was saved for positions of status only, such as a Mayor or President, or even the president of a large firm. It’s only the last several years that I realize the importance of leadership in my every day life, and how the position of a ‘leader’ is not just saved for those with a particularly high status, but that we are all leaders in our own right. We develop the title of a leader simply by living life and making day to day choices.

Choose Wisely
We can even develop the title of a leader based on who we choose to follow because where there are followers, there are also followers of followers. Many of the decisions we make are based on what the people around us are doing or what we’ve read, or what we’ve been told, so it’s important to know who we are listening to as well as what we are sharing with others, with the understanding that we are fully responsible for the decisions we make. Who we choose to follow is a huge decision knowing we are partly shaped by what we learn from them, just as how we live our own lives makes us partly responsible for shaping the lives of others. Who we marry for example is a huge decision. As a woman knowing I am to submit to the man I choose, I need to respect his character, know he has the best intentions for me and that he loves me, knowing that what I am submitting to is good and right. I am then living with that choice for the rest of my life, so it’s not one to be taken lightly. More than anything I know I need to submit to a Godly man, a man after Gods heart above my own. Only then can I feel confident that the decisions he will make for our lives will be the right ones. Likewise I need to be sure I will turn to God before making my own decisions with the understanding that everything I now do will affect my husband.

Ephesians 5:22-28
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Developing a character of integrity makes life easier for us, considering we are habitual creatures. “Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” This is what shapes our own character and forms the right habits due to the commitment and consistency behind a character of integrity. When we choose to do what is right even when no one is watching, we become consistent with that behavior, so when we are faced with a sudden, tough decision, it will be a lot easier to make the right choice. When we choose to live by integrity it is a commitment to live life the right way regardless of any circumstance. It is the commitment of a leader.

The Power of Influence
When one person makes a wrong decision and we follow, we are using the behavior of another person as a reason to rationalize our own behavior and lower our standards to the standard of a fool. Foolish behavior is unwise behavior, and if we know something is not right yet still choose to participate then we are not being wise, we are being foolish. We are allowing ourselves to be ‘shaped’ by the wrong values and lead in the wrong direction. It could be something as simple as a conversation. For example, someone says something we know is not right, and we follow, we join in encouraging the bad behavior instead of stepping in with wisdom as another leader in an attempt to lead the conversation the right way. For each ‘bad’ leader, it will take a ‘good’ leader to step in and lead the right way. Not with the intention to shame, but with the intention to correct whatever needs correcting. This is not always easy to do and takes guts. It takes power. Or for those people who are not comfortable stepping in, just not joining in at all when they know the conversation is not helpful to anyone is a more subtle way of leading. Whenever faced with two or more options we are making a decision, and it’s just as much a choice not to do as it is to do.

Luke 8:17
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

What Makes Us Powerful?
This word makes me think of Superman. A perfect human being that has the ability to save the world while always trying to do what is right, yet what more God who made the world and everything and everyone in it. People can associate themselves with power for all the wrong reasons. A young man might find himself somewhat powerful when he figures out he has the ability to attract girls while learning how to abuse it by dating lots of different girls and leaving many broken hearted. A Mayor might think himself powerful by taking unethical short cuts, with the help of a large team doing the dirty work for him/her, bribing their way to the top. A beautiful girl might feel powerful knowing she can use her looks to get what she wants. People often feel powerful for the wrong reasons, yet when God describes power it is very different to what the world teaches us.

Colossians 1:10-12
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Real power comes from the ability to know what is good, what is right, and what is helpful to others. Through the wisdom we gain from the word of God, and our close relationship with God we are strengthened with ‘all power’ which results in us having patience and a joyful heart. We exercise prudence with every decision we face when we have God’s power, always using the word of God, and the values the word develops in us as a reference point to any decision we make. This is what bears fruit, this is the character of a ‘power leader’ ready to stick to whats right, and step in whenever they see people being led down the wrong path. A power Leader won’t just watch people make the wrong choices, but will try to lead them to make the right ones.

Discipline and Discipleship
2 Timothy 1:7
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Where there is power, there is also Love and self-control. A powerful leader doesn’t make others feel intimidated or inferior. In fact a powerful leader will lift others up and even try to make others a better leader than themselves in order to help the next generations. A powerful leader will always show others the right way of doing things by leading with example from a life of self-control and by loving others enough to make the sacrifices needed to help them.

Mathew 20:26
“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.

It’s so easy to be evil. We live in a world full of evil. It’s so easy to make a white lie to make life easier for us, to break the rules to get places faster, to stop doing the right thing when no one is watching, but that’s why these types of people who lead the wrong way will never be power leaders. How can someone call themselves powerful if they only do what’s easy to gain a higher status instead of sticking to what’s right regardless of how hard it is? They might have tricked more people into following them temporarily now that their status gives them more popularity, however the power leaders regardless of status are shaping the world on a deeper level and for the long term, working closely with the people they come across, stepping in to do the right thing even if many are against them. At the end of the day, and despite what gets more attention, someone who sticks to what is right regardless of any temptation that surrounds them will always be more powerful than someone who makes the wrong choices that are so easy to make.

I have already influenced many lives in the past and it hurts me to think I have been a bad influence on many occasions, but knowing I will continue to influence the lives of others as long as God blesses me with my life encourages me to be a better person, to be more careful how I live my life and what I share with others, to step in when I can see people are not making the healthiest decisions in their lives while encouraging them to make better choices, and to be careful who and what I choose to surround myself with knowing my life will be greatly shaped by those people and my surroundings.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.