The Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

by Jim Richards March 28, 2019

Are leaders created or developed?

This age-old question is not easily answered. There are natural leaders, but anyone can grow into a leadership role. Acquired skills often take a lifetime to hone; others are true for everyone. There are mountains of books on leadership. My library is full of secular and religious works on the different approaches to leadership and all tend to agee – personal preparation is the essential aspect of leadership. There are several areas of individual preparedness to explore for those of us in the Lord’s ministry.


I would never consider myself a prayer warrior. In fact, I struggle continually to stay faithful in prayer. Prayer is one my weakest areas of spiritual progress. However, every morning I set aside a time for solitary prayer. I seek to pray with people throughout the day when occasions present themselves. Recognizing the only accomplishments of eternal value are those found in the will of God should cause us to bathe our lives in the presence of God through prayer. 

Remembering the Grace of God

Most of us were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Advantage and privilege are rare among God’s servants, (1 Corinthians 1:26f). Regardless of how high you climb in the food chain, it is God’s grace that has allowed you to get there. Don’t think that you are irreplaceable or indispensable. Never forget from where you came. The vast majority of us will never pastor a mega church or direct a ministry with a multi-million dollar budget. If those types of roles come our way, remember your roots. 

Selfless Service

Peers and subordinates are to be treated with respect. When God puts you in a place of authority, you are to continue to minister to people. God entrusts us with people to whom we are to show great care. While it may not be a regular duty for you to take care of the trash, it is never beneath you to do so. There is no greater leadership than servant leadership. Doing what we ask other people to do increases our credibility.

Having a Teachable Spirit 

Like a cross between a skunk and a computer, no one likes a stinking know-it-all. Neither education nor experience can cause you to arrive at the point where you can’t learn from others. Everyone knows something you don’t know. Be open to learning from those with whom you work. 

Staying in the Word

For the believer in Jesus, there is no substitute for God’s Word. Reading the Bible daily is only the beginning of the process. Staying in tune to what God has to say about your private life will enhance your public leadership. The believer who lacks reliance upon the Word of God for direction in leadership is destined for spiritual failure. Success is not measured by accomplishments but by faithfulness to God and His Word.

Leaving Your "Yes" on the Table

This means at times we must take risks. God is constantly calling us beyond ourselves. I was told once by a person who had little regard for me that I had grown to the job. I was offended at first, but I realized this was true. God will put us in over our heads to teach us to swim. 

Maintaining a Healthy Family-Work Balance

We are to be diligent about the work God has given us. Yet, our individual and family obligations call for attention as well. We must never neglect the work of God which encompasses our family and personal care. This is the secret to the Christian life. This is the secret to leadership. Stay in balance with your priorities.

I don’t have all the answers to being a leader; I’m just a fellow sojourner seeking to be what God would have me be. However, I deeply believe that leadership begins within. If we fuel our lives with these principles, we will be successful leaders. And one day, we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”