Leadership has become a popular topic in recent years. Many books, classes and seminars teach foundational principles to help us hone our people skills. Commitment, professionalism, integrity, and a laundry list of other attributes no doubt contribute to our effectiveness as leaders. However, there is more to leadership than just our personal ability to influence others. Maybe, just maybe, it is more about obedience.
Obedience is not something we hear a lot about today unless you are raising children. It is one of those basic lessons we all understand. However, we have all experienced a natural resistance to obedience. Obedience involves submission to someone else’s authority. As we get older, this process of submission leaves us feeling vulnerable and requires a heightened level of trust. With a prevalent focus on self-gratification, blurred lines of right and wrong, and the absence of humility, the concept of obedience is not easily embraced in our modern culture. There is no greater example of leadership and obedience than the life of Jesus. Philippians 2:8 (ESV) says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross.” I love the fact that this verse highlights the fact that Jesus humbled himself through obedience. It is Jesus’ obedience to God the Father that created a way for each of us to have a relationship with God, a relationship built on faith and a call to be obedient to God’s direction in our lives.
An unknown author once said, “Don’t leave this earth having let everyone else use you but God.” This quote brings a unique perspective to what true leadership looks like. Leadership is more about what we allow God to do through us than what we think we can accomplish on our own. Psalms 90:17 (NLT) says, “And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!” This verse is part of a longer prayer Moses prayed on behalf of the Israelites. Another translation (NIV) says, “Let the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands upon us – yes, establish the work of our hands!” Moses understood that if we truly desire for our work to prosper, we need to allow God to establish the work of our hands. God’s favor on our work is more effective than any strategy, training, or personal skill set. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of seemingly unqualified people who accomplished incredible miracles and achievements because they were obedient to God’s direction in their lives and trusted that He would make their efforts successful.
Make no mistake, our journey of self-improvement in the areas of leadership, conflict resolution, and communication is important and will still produce benefits. In fact, we are to give our very best in all we do. Proverbs 13:4 says, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” Hard work, dedication, and pursuit of excellence in our work when coupled with God’s favor and direction in our lives creates the optimal environment for success.