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9. Biblical Leadership in Nation-building

Leadership, Integrity and Nation building.

- by Kur Deng Anguei Kur

I believe that the people of this world need biblical and servant leadership from people who can best serve their communities or nations and build strong societies. We see today many people put themselves into positions of leadership, then lead their communities astray. They are not interested in building confidence or solid developments among their communities. Some leaders misuse their leadership powers, in both secular and religious institutions, to conduct their own business for personal profit. In turn this causes the fall and destruction of many organisations in South Sudan, Sudan, indeed around the world. The reason for this chapter is to seek to answer some questions raised by present day leaders and to clarify the misuse of leadership powers in both public and Christian institutions. I was interested to write on the following ten sub-topics of biblical leadership in nation-building and understand their functions, because it is related to my field of specialisation in master degree programmes.

Leadership is a broad field of studies in the religious, political and business sectors of life. Leaders need effectiveness and flexibility to achieve set institutional or organisational goals and objectives. I hope this chapter will help Christian believers like you, who want to gain knowledge on Christian and government leadership, to be confidently obedient to church and government leadership. We must always remember that God is the only ultimate source of their leadership powers. They (and we) must be willing to serve others first before themselves, in all situations, whether in South Sudan, Sudan or elsewhere in the world.

1. The real meanings of biblical leadership, integrity and nation–building

The terms ‘biblical leadership’, ‘integrity’ and ‘nation-building’ are not new to you and me. They are familiar words that have meaning in our daily activities. They are widely used everywhere in Christian and – at least the last two – in other institutions. I will seek to give their correct meanings according to the way they are used in different situations.

Biblical leadership

‘Biblical’ and ‘leadership’ are two different words. We must separate them from each other and define each separately from the other to find its correct meaning.

What is ‘biblical’? It describes something that comes from the word of God, the Bible. The word ‘biblical’ is the adjective of the word Bible, which itself was derived from the Greek word Tabiblia or the middle Latin word Biblia. Biblia means ‘the books’ (Biblion meaning ‘book’)[1] The meaning of biblical is something that derived its “essence or nature from the Bible” and continues the teachings of the Bible.[2] Biblical implies that the substance and the shape of the Christian’s faith and life are foundationally taught in the Bible and nowhere else. It is a responsible commitment of all believers in Jesus Christ to obey and respect the Holy Bible. Christian faith is always shaped by the Bible because that comes from God. Therefore, having biblical faith means that you trust the scriptures and live in keeping with everything which is found in the Holy Bible. We must always accept what is biblical and observe when it is added before nouns, such as biblical teachings, biblical theology, biblical management, as well as here – biblical leadership.

What is ‘leadership’? Is leadership biblical or secular? The word ‘leadership’ is used in both secular and biblical worlds but is being understood differently. Some Christian leaders say that leadership is a biblical word and is used only by Christian leaders, while others from the secular world see that it is a secular word and is being used by all public leaders. Leadership is defined as “a process whereby one individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”.[3] It is a leader’s effectiveness to reach the goals of the organisation. Leadership is also defined as “an ability of an individual to ‘lead’ or guide other individuals, teams or entire organisations to achieve goals and objectives”.[4] Leaders work together with their followers in daily interactions to achieve the organisation’s objectives. I believe that in the Christian worldview leadership is both biblical and secular. It is a way to influence people, either in biblical or secular situations, whatever their circumstances in the world.

What is ‘biblical leadership’?

The Christian youth leader, Todd Engstrom, has defined biblical leadership as “meeting someone where they are and taking them where Jesus wants them to go”.[5] But for me, “biblical leadership is a way for influencing people, through God’s processes, to achieve certain goals or objectives, at a given time”. This process is led through the interactions of God with any human being, interactions rooted and taught in the Bible, so that the evidences to support any direction, encouragement or challenge are always found in the Bible. Biblical leadership means that the origin and principles of the leadership are found in the Bible. Leadership is rooted and taught in the Bible, which tells us that God is the ultimate source of leadership. The leadership that we are talking about comes from God and such leaders are ‘God oriented’. Biblical leadership and secular leadership have been defined in various ways and according to various situations in the universe.

Biblical leadership started immediately after the Creation and it continues through the history of humanity. God raised godly leaders to send messages to sinful human beings, trying to make them turn to God, but sometimes people did not like to respond positively to our living God. Therefore, Biblical leadership is God’s involvement in the leadership of human beings, where they interact with each other from the time of Creation at the beginning of our history, through the time of the patriarchs, the prophets, our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles, as well as into the present time, where some of the leaders who are led by the Holy Spirit point towards the future.

Leadership exists in two forms, formal or informal, and may be categorised as below:

a. Biblical leadership, sometimes called servant leadership. This type of leadership means to serve all others first, rather than to serve oneself.

b. Worldly leadership, also known as self-service leadership, which means to serve oneself first, rather than serving others.

The formal leader is an individual who has been given a title and a leadership position with defined responsibilities. The informal leader is someone who possesses and uses leadership abilities, but who has no title in line with a leadership position. These types of leadership differ in usefulness depending on abilities, circumstances or situation. Appointed leaders need wisdom to lead people to recognise in their own lives that the living God is the ultimate source of power for their leadership position in the organisation they serve. They must be very beneficial to their people, flexible, making all people equal. They must love others more than themselves, empowering others, practising what they say in their own lives. All leaders need to practise this important word “integrity” for their organisation to be effective and successfully accomplish goals and objectives.

What is ‘integrity’?

Integrity is defined by an “individual who can be counted on to do consistently what is right and what is expected of them”. They are characterised by what is fair, just and acceptable in their society. “Integrity is the essence of everything successful in leadership”.[6] The word integrity is also defined as “a person’s level of honesty, moral commitments and willingness to do what is right”.[7] It is where an individual behaves in an honest, fair and ethical manner.

The word integrity originated from a Latin word, Integer, meaning “wholeness or completeness”.[8] This word is expressing the inner being of the person, such as honesty and consistency of character. Integrity is very important in all areas of the lives of leaders in organisations, for their development locally and around the world. Integrity and honesty of character can be pictured as being the same as 100% honesty in stewardship. Successful leadership, when accompanied by integrity in stewardship, means that there will be no misappropriation of any resources – people, stock, money or property.

What is ‘nation-building’?

Is ‘nation-building’ the same as ‘society-building’ or ‘state-building’? The term nation-building is a “literal sense of building a unified national society”.[9] It is achieved after the comprehensive failure of a state and the political leadership of the nation. The word nation-building can be studied together with state-failure to get at its right meaning. Nation-building is the same as society-building, but it has different meanings from state-building.

1. Nation

The word ‘nation’ is a western term that has historical experiences with understanding to build up state and society.[10] It originates from the noun ‘nationality’. It is defined as “children being born to her soil”.[11] The nation is a mother land and her specific work is to join those born in the land, giving them the freedom to become one people or one community. Nationality means belonging to a certain ethnic community. The word Ethno means ‘community’ in the Greek language. The people of one nation share public powers, economic relationships, culture and languages, in given geographical locations. Someone has said, “the nation lives together when citizens share values, customs, goals, and communicate with one another’s”. Nations originated at the time Europeans such as Germany, France, Spain and England were at war. In modern times the nation is known as, “an individual country considered together with its social and political structures”.[12]

2. Building

One English dictionary has defined the word ‘building’ as “a structure with a roof like a house or a church”. Building is also “the activities of making houses and other structures”.[13] These two different words, with their different meanings, combine to mean constructing and developing the nation, a nation that will be good to live in. Nation-building is a transforming process, developing a peaceful and prosperous nation. It can be achieved after “state-failure” or being a “failed state”.

3. State-failure or a failed state

What is state failure? State-failure is defined as the “failure of public institutions to deliver positive political goods to citizens in a scale to keep the legitimacy and existence of a state”.[14] It is a process which involves the “weakening of a state’s capacity to provide legitimate government”,[15] so that it cannot control its territorial boundaries and loses authority over parts of its territories. The scriptures say, “A nation will fail if it has no guidance. Many advisers mean security”, Proverbs 11:14.[16] The meaning is clear – the nation fails if there is no wise leadership. Our Lord Jesus describes the failed nation or state: “Any country that divides itself into groups which fight each other will not last very long. And any town or family that divides itself into groups which fight each other will fall apart”, Matthew 12:25.[17] Failed states are the ones which gain independence and immediately start the civil war with her own citizens that ends up destroying the nation. Characteristics of the government of a failed state are identified with weak leadership or strong but corrupt leadership, that fails to provide positive political and societal goods like security, educational services, health services, economic development, tribal and cultural expressions, a legal way to secure order, a judicial system and good infrastructure. They quickly lose communication with their people. Soon the government of the nation or state becomes illegitimate. A failed state is by nature a political failure of the leadership to provide sustainable developments for their citizens. It can no longer become a centre for advance in nation and society building.

Every failed state has a lack of good planning. No-one plans to fail! When there is no clear understanding of the local communities and their differing situations and there is no process of growing development in state building, then instead there grows looting, widespread poverty, criminality, violence and other lawlessness. There are various causes of state failure, including the failures made by former colonial powers, economic underdevelopment, lack of democracy (that is, common people having their own say on their own affairs), mismanagement of resources and projects, continuing poverty, dependence on foreign aid, tribal and civil wars, even national self-defence. The situation of a failed state creates an atmosphere of fear in disputes which can fuel civil war among the local citizens. Recent examples of failed states are the collapsed Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Liberia, Somalia, etc. Building up of the society, community, state and nation can only begin when civil war ends.

4. What is nation-building?

‘Nation-building’ is defined as ‘the process of collective identity formation (the shared sense of belonging to a group) to legitimise public powers within a given geographical territory, to refine existing traditions, institutions and customs, with national characteristics that support the nation’s unique sovereignty, social modernity, state structures, stratification systems and social mobility’ (my compilation). It is a process of developing a shared sense of identity or community among the various groups making up a particular state. It concerns the character relationship between citizens and their states. We do well to remember what God said in the Bible: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people”, Proverbs 14:34. Nation-building requires leadership to work in integrity, using wise leadership to develop the nation. The recent positive history of nation-building originated after the second world war. The reconstruction of Germany and Japan as successful nations took many years. It did not happen overnight. In Western Europe, perhaps starting (certainly growing) during the 18th-19th centuries, there was fierce competition between European nations in their colonialism. The results are the nationalism of the modern world.

Any nation state which is composed of many nationalities will take a long time to build into one nation. There will be obstacles from history and from the present, plus the hoped-for future. Nation-building reconstructs the nation’s identity, to define a new system of government, culture with common language(s) of the nation. After nation building comes state-building.

5. What is state-building?

‘State-building’ is defined as the “process of establishment or reestablishment and strengthening of public structures in a given territory, capable of delivering public goods”.[18] It is a “task of building functioning states capable of fulfilling the essential attributes of modern statehood”.[19] It focuses mainly on the practical task of building and strengthening state institutions, such as capacity-building programmes. State-building reinforces the existing state institutions, to develop them so that the state will have strong institutions enabling continuing developments. It may also introduce additional specific developments to those that existed before, both for state human resources and state infrastructure.

State-failure, nation-building and state-building go together at various levels during different times in history. South Sudan presently has a great challenge of state-failure and is working hard to bring our citizens to a peaceful state, to gain developmental services in the newly independent nation. South Sudan got her independence in 2011. Tragically the political leaders entered internal conflicts after two years of independence in 2013. This new country has been described as a failed state because our political leaders have been unable (or unwilling) to provide services to their citizens and, instead, have fought over their own political seats and offices.

God establishes government leadership of the nations

Who is God? What is the government? I ask myself why these two words ‘God’ and ‘government’ both begin with letter ‘G’? These two words look like they describe the powerful, like ‘God’ in all heaven and all earth, or ‘government’ as the powerful administrator of certain geographical locations and areas on earth. We want to know their definitions and how they were recognised to begin with the same letter capital (G) in English.

The word ‘God’, “is a spirit that some people believe controls nature or represents a particular quality”.[20] God, in biblical definition, is the ultimate authority who exists and controls nature, who created human beings and everything else in or for our world. God is all-power-full (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), present-everywhere-at-the-same-time (omnipresent), and He is the Creator of all mankind Genesis 1:26-27. He is the ruler of heaven and earth.[21]

The ‘government’ is defined as “group of people who control a country or area”.[22] Therefore, God is our ultimate power who controls both heaven’s and earth’s daily activities; while government is the one which regulates and controls the daily activities of the people and most things on earth, under God’s direction, influence or leadership. Government is God’s agent on earth and acts on God’s behalf. All people are accountable to Him, including the leaders of the church and nation. Who is the source of government leadership and church leadership as we learn it in the Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments?

Sources of government leadership

God’s people were led, before the government was well-known, by the heads of the families or patriarchs to whom God sent His messages for the people on the ground. In the time of the Exodus, tribal elders acted as civil leaders and served on behalf of the whole nation, Exodus 3:16,4:29,12:21. Step by step the leaders appointed by God, people like Moses, Joshua, the Judges and the Kings, established government until the government of the nation was fully organised in the time of the Kings, 1 Samuel 13:14. When patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were led by God as leaders of the people of Israel, Israel was a “theocratic community”. The people of God were travelling like nomads, searching for the new land that God had promised to give them, which was the land of Canaan. The words used to describe the functions of government in the Bible include: authority, master, rulers, dominion, or government itself. The word government was announced by God right from His creation of the universe and human beings in Genesis 1:26-31. When God created “man and woman” He blessed them and said, “have dominion” or “rule” over fish and all other creatures, and the whole earth will be yours. The history of creation has shown evidence that the leadership of mankind over the universe is known as ‘government’ and received its origin from God when He commanded that mankind should rule or have dominion over all other creatures of the earth. The words ‘dominion’, ‘rule’, ‘govern’, ‘authorise’ or ‘mastering’ are different words in spelling, but they have similar meanings in biblical or theological settings. God is the source of the human government of any country in this world ever since the Creation. He is the ultimate power of the government at present, as well as the future, just as He said. Every ruling authority that exists in the world was established by God, Romans 13:1-2. The leaders of our civil governments are also called in the Bible, “God’s servants”, Romans 13:4, or “God’s ministers”, Romans 13:6, words which are also used of our pastors and bishops.[23]

God is the one who established the civil government of every country of the world for the good of all people. Those in authority hold their positions because God appointed them at their right time to lead the nation, John 19:10-11. God is also the one who will remove them from their powers at His right time, Psalm 75:7, Daniel 2:21. God establishes human government leadership of any nation for the purpose of His glory and the good of all of His people on earth. God raises the government to work for the common good of people, to protect them from evildoers and to defend their people from civil wars. I personally agree with pastor Colin Salter, who wrote concerning the Christian practice of government that all existing authorities or government were established by God and therefore “it is right for Christian believers to be involved in politics and in government, both nationally or locally”.[24] Since God is the one who established the government leadership of the nations for the good of common people, Romans 13:4, what can prevent Christians from personal involvement in government leadership? Governments protect or defend their people from war, help economically develop their societies, make internal and external peace for the nation to progress, establish law and order to rule and govern themselves. In this sense, God is a direct leader of both the government and the church and, as citizens, Christians can participate in both church and government leadership.

There are two Christian views for their involvement in national or regional government leadership. One is negative and the other is positive. Different Christians hold tenaciously to both views.

Negative aspects of government seen by Christians

Certain things in any government, collectively or individually, will not be accepted by holy and committed Christian believers who love Jesus Christ with “all heart, soul and mind”, Matthew 22:17. It is hard to join a government when it is against Christian’s ethics and does not match with Christian doctrines or Statements of Faith. This negative side of government fears that politics in general is a “corrupt and dirty business where the love of power, the love of money, bribery, dishonesty, tribalism, selfishness, immorality and other corrupt practices rule the lives of many government officials or leaders”.[25] Does this mean that Christian believers cannot join government leadership, if they are liable to become corrupted, gullible as lovers of power, of money, open to bribery, susceptible to tribalism, selfishness and so on? It will also be very difficult to serve the interests of others, if colleagues are serving themselves. I believe the Christian rules in the Bible are against this view, because Christian leaders would never be involved in government leadership if they are afraid of losing good Christian practices, their testimony and godly characters. Of course, there are biblical examples of leaders who fell into temptation, such as King Solomon, 1 Kings 11:1-6, King Hezekiah, 2 Kings 20:12-21, plus Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, Luke 22:1-6. All were near to God but were led astray. A warning to us all.

Positive aspects of government seen by Christians

Christians may be involved in government leadership for the advancement of God’s kingdom and to help Christian believers from one country to around the world. It has happened throughout history that God raised some Christian leaders at national level to take up issues like slavery, the drugs and prostitution trades, workplace trade unions, to help God’s people and extend God’s kingdom for His glory. Christian leaders who seek government leadership need to carefully ask themselves important questions: Why did God call me into this position? Does God want me to bring some positive changes for His glory? Christians are the light of the world, Matthew 5:14-16. God told His elect people “to live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us”, 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11-17. God appointed some Christians in the history of civil governments, with leadership positions, to do God’s will and to save the lives of many people. In the Bible these ‘God-government’ leaders included Joseph, Moses, Esther and Daniel.

Joseph, son of Jacob, in Egyptian government leadership

Genesis 37:36; 41:41, 44 tell us that Joseph was treated badly and sold to the traders from Midian by his brothers. Captain Potiphar, of Pharaoh’s official guards, bought Joseph into his home in Egypt. The Lord blessed and cared for His servant, 39:2-5, and Joseph was appointed by Pharaoh King of Egypt to oversee the public treasury. From that position, he helped all the people of Egypt, God’s own people of Israel and many other people of the world, 41:41-49. Joseph became well known as the great leader in the government of Egypt. Because of Joseph the people of Israel migrated to Egypt as God used him to accomplish God’s will to save the lives of many thousands of people, including Egyptians and other people of neighbouring nations. Joseph controlled public funds faithfully and honestly as he followed the wise leading of the living God.

Moses in Egyptian government leadership

In Exodus 3:1-10 Moses was the only boy who survived in Egypt from his generation, following Pharaoh’s decree to kill all the boys of Israel. God cared for Moses as he grew up in Pharaoh’s house as his grandson. God called Moses, 3:1-22, to deliver His people from Egypt to their promised land and Moses became a man of liberty who freed God’s people from Egypt. God raised Moses up for this mission to bring out the people of Israel from Egypt and send them into desert for 40 years until they reached their promise land.

Queen Esther in Persian government leadership

Esther was an orphan girl who was brought up by Mordecai, Esther 2:7. She was also one of the beautiful girls who were married to the Persian king and so became Queen with some input into the Persian government, 2:17-18. By taking a public stand, Esther saved the people of Israel from planned genocide, 8:1-17.

Daniel in Babylon government leadership

Daniel served the Lord faithfully, eventually as an official government leader and the Bible describes him as a man of integrity, Daniel 1:1-21. He became prime minister of the government in the whole Persian Empire. He was honest in serving God and the world-renowned empire accepted Daniel’s God with many turning to worship the living God of Israel at that time. The Christian who seeks to be involved in government leadership must trustingly depend on God and live like Daniel, with visible integrity according to God’s will.

All Christians are called:

  • to respect and honour government leaders, Romans 13:7

  • to be submissive and obedient to government, Romans 13:1-5, 1 Peter 2:13-17

  • to pray for civil leaders of the government, 1 Timothy 2:1-2

  • to pay taxes to the government, Matthew 22:17-21, Romans 13:6-7.

Christian believers must be obedient to civil government, whether it is a good or evil government. David was a good example of obedience to government civil servants during his internal conflict with King Saul. He was so obedient to Saul. There was time when Saul became jealous and planned to kill David. He ordered soldiers in his army to kill David. Twice David found King Saul alone during this time. Twice David did not kill him. He evidently had the ability to kill Saul, but he did not want to kill him. David took oaths before the Lord that he cannot kill one who “is the anointed of the Lord”, 1 Samuel 24:5-7. It happened that King Saul was killed and one of the young boys reported to David that he had killed him, 2 Samuel 1:5-10. David immediately had this young boy killed, 2 Samuel 1:14-16. “That was the reward I gave him for his news”, 2 Samuel 4:9-12. In the Old Testament David said the boy was disobedient to kill the king and received his just reward.

Leadership power in nation-building

What is power? Who possesses it? Many people are interested to hold leadership positions and be called leaders at national or international levels around the world today. Some people like to stay in power or position by name without continuing to provide developmental services to their communities. Who is the right leader in the right place? Are all leaders on the same level of leadership? Effective and wise leadership is not based on holding positions in institutions or offices in organisations. It is based on how the leader uses their powers during any situations. By thorough planning and fully implementing activities that promote the development of their societies, wise leadership is always ultimately successful. The role and use of power in effective leadership is considered vital in management and organisation. Power often remains the same in all circumstances whether in politics, business or religious leadership. Being the positional holder of power does not increase the leader’s abilities, nor does position alone provide the development services for the leader or the people. Good relationships between people and their leaders increase the influential ability of any leader. The word ‘power’ is defined as “the ability to marshal human, informational or material resources to get something done”.[26] It is the opportunity to build, to create, to change history in a different direction and everyone can possess it. Power is also defined as “the function of relationships and it is owned by all people in an organisation step by step at a certain time. Power is not owned by the leaders of the institution themselves; it is distributed to the hierarchical system and is exercised in all aspects of leadership, such as upwards, downwards and horizontally throughout the organisation. The power of man is his present means to obtain some apparent future”.[27]

Power and leadership are two related concepts. Sometimes you can find leadership in place of power, but power usually plays a role in leadership practices. Power itself is not good or bad, but it is measured qualitatively when it is used and put into practice in any situation. It has been stated that “There is no person who can exercise power without being in leadership; or no person can be a leader without being in leadership power”. The leadership is exercised through power and the leaders of institutions are always developing their power-bases to influence others, where the leaders and the followers all have an equal role for the success of their work. Organisation is a mutual influence of leaders and followers who mean to share their activities for the development of their society. Some scholars have identified various forms of powers that exist in the world:[28]

1. Positional power is power given to a person by the people of the nation, community or church, via an election or appointment. The nation, community and church choose their leaders and give power to the one they select by election as their leader. This kind of power can then be exercised in the nation, community or church, by the elected one, to promote the betterment of their society.

2. Personal power is when the person has traits of personality which enable them to lead other people. This type of person can exercise personal power to serve their society. The leadership of this person attracts other people and they put him/her into a leadership position and follow them as a leader in their institutions.

3. Expertise power is gained and used by the person who has more knowledge and skills than other people in the community or nation. People can follow them because he/she has many experiences in this field, much more than other people. These may include medical doctors, computer technicians, athletes, engineers, university professors, etc.

4. Relationship power comes when a person gains good public relationships with other people in their organisation, people who then credit him/her with this kind of leader power.

5. Coercive power happens when a person or group gets into position through force, whether people like or not. Others must accept them to lead the organisation or nation.

6. Resources power is possessed by the person who has great wealth or money. People have this kind of power simply because they have gained many more resources than other people in the nation or community, not because they have any especially worthy skills.

7. Reward power comes because people are recognised as having done well. This leader may have received materials, money or simply praises such as being told, ‘well done, keep it up’, etc.

8. Physical power is possessed by people with muscle strength such as is used in football, basketball, wrestling and other strength sports. The strongest leads the team.

Power or leadership do not stay forever. Either can be temporarily possessed, by one person today and another tomorrow. God is the only one who keeps His omnipotence.

What is Servant leadership?

The concept of servant leadership has become effective and attractive in the leadership of many Christian organisations and perhaps elsewhere too. To understand the definition and functioning of servant leadership, we will see how these words are variously defined.

Servant leadership is defined as a, “way of life that influences, models, supports and encourages people to serve others first”.[29] It is a way to develop and pursue every person’s excellence in every day areas of life. Servant leadership seeks to involve others in decision making, gives a strong base in ethical behaviour and pursues the personal growth of workers to improve the caring and quality of organisational life. “Servant leadership provides better leadership in the organisation”.[30] To serve people this way is to lead in such a way as Jesus Christ described, true Christian leadership being different from the standard, average leadership of this world. The leadership of the world demands that people serve their leader, while the servant leadership of Jesus Christ requires that the leader himself is the one to serve people as if he were their slave. “You know that those who are considered as rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all, for even the Son of Man did not come to be served; He came to serve and to give His life to redeem many people”, Mark 10:42-45.[31]To emphasise this point I add another translation which reads, “Jesus said: ‘You know that among the nations of the world the great ones lord it over the little people and act like tyrants. But that is not the way it will be among you. Whoever would be great among you must serve and minister. Whoever wants to be great among you must be slave of all. Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to be a servant—to offer His life as a ransom for others’”.[32]

Following Jesus Christ’s example of servant leadership is by far the best way to provide services to the people of our societies. While servant leadership is a timeless concept,

the term “servant leadership” originates from Robert K. Greenleaf, who thought and wrote a great deal about the nature of servant leadership and character.[33] “The servant-leader is servant first, … it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead”. [34] Servant leadership is a way of being in relationship with others, and the two roles, as servants and leaders, mean that any person can be productive in this world. The concept of a servant being in leadership comes from the one person who was a ‘servant by nature’, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Can the natural servant become a leader? Or can a leader become a servant? Can the followers become the natural servants? Or become leaders? Who is a servant leader?

We have just seen that the servant leader is a “servant first”. This is different from the one who is a leader first, but who serves. The ‘leader first’ and the ‘servant first’ are two different parallel ideas and they vary in practice according to human nature.

The ‘servant first’ means all other people, with their highest priorities and needs, are being served. The ‘leader first’ will see what plans can be actively made to do things, with less regard for serving the needs of his/her people. The national servant who is the ‘servant first’ is the one who seeks, perseveres and serves the highest priority needs of all others. The person who is ‘leader first’ may set many things in motion to be seen to be active, but only later to serve others. Everything that happens in this world, whether good or bad, happens by the thoughts, attitudes and actions of individual beings. We Christian believers are all called to be servant leaders. To motivate those who God will bring into God’s kingdom we are called to carefully lead others: “Whoever has authority should work hard”, Romans 12:8.[35]

Christian leadership is different from the leadership of this world because it first seeks the interests of others, while leadership in the world often seeks self-interest or the interests of friends. Jesus’ leadership style has totally revolutionised the world’s leadership. In these Bible verses He has inverted – turned up the right way what was the wrong way up – the leader/servant relationship. In God’s kingdom leaders serve best by leading, and lead best by serving, God’s people. Godly leadership develops and transforms all followers. The need is to transform visions into realities. The essence of servant leadership is found in the Bible, Philippians 2:3-5. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mind-set as Christ Jesus”. Servant leadership seeks first the interests of others and it focuses on growth, success and welfare for all the followers. The servant leader’s vision is also focused on the followers and not on his/her own self. Many leaders of the world like to be seen as servant leaders, but only a small number of them really are such. Most of the world’s leadership styles in present days may be identified among:

1. Kingship leadership

2. Selfish leadership

3. Ruler leadership

4. Self-serving or self-interest leadership

But a Christian’s leadership in Jesus Christ is based on servant-leadership. The example of servant leadership found in Jesus Christ was evidenced when He chose twelve disciples to lead. He served them first Himself. Those disciples selected (with the whole church) elders and deacons to care for everyone, including the distribution of food among the hungry, Acts 6:1-7.

Servant leadership is also the same as good stewardship. Leadership is something with purpose and direction. Servant leadership is a solution to the challenges that face people of South Sudan and elsewhere today. We recognise we are accountable to God for what we do.

Larry C. Spears, after he studied Greenleaf’s original writings, has identified at least ten characteristics central to the development of servant leaders:

1. Listening

Listening is one of the characteristics of servant leaders, since they involve much communication through to decision-making skills. Servant leaders have a deep commitment to listening intently to others before coming to a final decision, where other leaders and followers are also involved in making the choices.

2. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels. Servant leaders need to understand all their managers, followers, customers and the situations of their organisation to lead it well. This enables them to work together in unity with other people and promote the organisation’s culture.

3. Healing

Making someone feel better is one of the powerful attributes for healing one’s self and one’s relationship with others. Servant leaders share views with their managers and followers and seek cooperation to resolve any problems they come across.

4. Awareness

Awareness is an awakening of the people. The servant leader encourages him/herself and all followers. By encouraging full understanding, everyone appreciates all the issues, involving ethics, power, values, risks and viewing perspectives in all situations.

5. Persuasion

Servant leaders are reliant on persuasion rather than positional authority in making decisions within an organisation. To be effective in building agreement within a group arguments must be persuasive.

6. Conceptualisation

This means the servant leader must think beyond day to day realities. It is a key role of boards of trustees or directors to account for day to day operations in an organisation, while keeping in mind the bigger and longer term picture, goals and strategies.

7. Foresight

Foresight is the characteristic of servant leaders which enables them to understand the lessons and implications for the future arising from the result of today’s decisions.

8. Stewardship

Greenleaf’s view stated that “CEO, staff and trustees played significant roles in holding their institutions in trust for the greater good of the society”.[36] Servant leadership, like stewardship, is a commitment for serving the needs of others, in both the present and for the future.

9. Commitment for the growth of people

The servant leader is committed to the needs and personal growth of every individual in his/her organisation. He/she sets funds aside in budgets for personal and professional development, encouraging all the workers to work hard and earn good reward.

10. Building community

Lost in unwritten human history are the consequences of shifting from local communities to large institutions when developing human lives. Servant leaders recommend that “true communities are created among those who work in business and other institutions”.[37][38]

Leadership styles in nation-building

The question of leadership styles is very clear and will help us define the issue in an easy way. Leadership in nation-building is a complete variety. Different leaders lead their nations, institutions or organisations in different ways. Leadership styles are differences in behaviours by which a “leader conducts his/her activities”.[39] It is a leader’s style of promoting directions, implementing plans and motivating people to promote organisational goals and objectives. The various leadership styles are always applied to different situations and circumstances. Recognised leadership styles which exist in different forms include:

1. Autocratic and authoritarian leadership styles

This type of leadership style is exercised by the only leader of the organisation, being the one who gives his/her decisions to the followers of the organisation. The followers must accept, obey and follow the orders, without question. The leader does not involve the followers in any decision making. This sounds to me like dictatorship!

2. Participative (democratic) leadership styles

This leader always involves followers in the decision-making process. The leader seeks advice from followers and they make collective decisions. Sometimes the people may decide on his/her behalf and he/she will accept it. Of course, a participative leader may guide the followers to reach decisions.

3. Free-rein leadership style

Decision-making is passed on to the followers. All are given the right and power to make decisions, to establish goals and to work out any problems.

4. Task oriented leadership styles

Sometimes called “protection leadership”, this kind of leadership style has its main concern that tasks are done in such a way that the desired levels of production are achieved. This type of leader’s highest priority is the process of doing the work for production. He/she does not care much about the feelings of the workers in the organisation. He/she is a high task/low relationship leader.

5. Relationship oriented leadership styles

The relationship leader is concerned to maintain good feelings and warm relationships with and between the workers. This kind of leader is more concerned about the relationship between him/herself and workers than with the production task in hand. It may not achieve the high level of production desired, but the relationship of workers is progressive and may be developed usefully for the future.

6. Positive leadership styles

The leader who has positive leadership style uses rewards to motivate the workers in the organisation and directs them to the work that needs to be done. The rewards may be in different forms such as monetary benefits, words of praise, encouragement, etc.

7. Negative leadership styles

Leaders who have negative leadership styles have discouraging ways of doing things. They call themselves leaders and may even occupy the leadership position in, say, our present nation or community. But by always using power and force to solve the problems they encounter to achieve their interests or needs, they build walls between themselves and their people. They use punishments to force their workers to do what they want them to do. Negative leaders use their power to create fear in the workers and make them understand that he/she is boss, having complete power over them. They use threats and strong words, that can make the workers afraid, or they deduct the salaries of workers by force as punishment.

Leadership styles used in varying situations

In fact, leadership styles change in their appropriateness to different situations. Different situations may demand alternative leadership styles. For example, autocratic leadership may be good in an emergency humanitarian crisis or in threatening military situations. Based on orders or commands, this type of leadership style may help to bring everybody back to a normal situation. It may be used anytime the leader is specifically delegated by the workers. It may also be used in any situation where the leaders (preferably plural) have the only expertise for that position. Their power should be limited in time and clearly understood by all asked to follow them in the situation. Participative leadership may become useful in a situation where the position of power (with whom the responsibility finally lies) is not clear to all. Who has the right to reward or to punish? It can be used for any situation. It is often used in voluntary organisations such as a church or a community service organisation, where all members have similar expertise (or none) to the leaders. Sharing promotes understanding of each other and discussions may produce new ideas and opportunities for working together in the organisation.

Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christian leadership

Is Jesus Christ really the foundation of Christian leadership? Jesus Christ is the best and most excellent leader of the Christian world, I might even say of the whole world! He is the foundation of Christian biblical leadership including ‘servant leadership’. He is an excellent servant leader, better than any ever found in this world. There are many great biblical leaders who existed in God’s kingdom and in history around the world, but Jesus Christ’s style of leadership is the best. It differs from other leaders, even those of the Bible, because:

1. He has meaningful Christian leadership 100% in line with God’s vision

2. He is the incarnate leader (fully God and fully man), knowing all of both

3. He is the natural servanthood leader.

The leadership style of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was and is very successful because of those qualities found in Him, which set Him apart to become the most successful and greatest leader in His world and His mission.

We are going to study more about Jesus Christ being the foundation of Christian biblical leadership. Is Christian leadership better compared to political leadership? There is always confusion between Christian and secular concepts of leadership. Many books and articles have been written about both secular and Christian leadership. Many of them have clearly stated the meanings of Christian and secular leadership. We will examine together now Christian leadership as found in Jesus Christ, the leader and the head of Church, Ephesians 5: 23. Jesus Christ’s leadership focused on servant leadership, which He mastered as He grew up and which developed His disciples into Christian church leaders.[40] Christian biblical leadership is much seen in the lives of God’s leaders who served the Lord in their time. They are known as the great leaders of the Bible with Jesus Christ as their foundation of Christian leadership, even though most lived before He came to earth.

Great biblical leaders in the Bible

These people are the founders of our Christian faith: some are also called patriarchs.

1. Abraham

Abraham was well known for his great faith in God and he was called a man of great faith, even ‘God’s friend’, James 2:21-23. God called Abraham, in Genesis 12:1-3, to leave his people and go to the land God had chosen to give to his descendants. When he accepted God’s calling, he was blessed to become the father of all the nations of the world because of his faith. God blessed all the people of the world through Abraham’s faith. God sent the Saviour Jesus through his family, to save the world from sinful rebellion against God. God called Abraham to save His people.

2. Moses

Moses was one of God’s great leaders in his day. God called Moses into His service of liberating His people from Egypt into the promised land of Canaan, Exodus 3:1-14. Moses, as God’s spiritual, military and political leader (along with others, Exodus 18:21-26), led the people out from Egypt almost into the promised land before he was succeeded by Joshua, who actually reached the promised land.

3. Joshua

God called Joshua to succeed Moses, Joshua 1:1-9. He was a brave and courageous man, who led the people of Israel into the promised land. There were a lot of challenges in his leadership, but God – who sent him to capture the promise land and make Israel settle in it – enabled Joshua to do what he was called to do.

4. King Saul

After the time of the Judges of Israel was over, the people of Israel asked God for a king, 1 Samuel 8:1-22. God accepted their request and raised King Saul, who was appointed as the very first King of Israel. Saul sounds a bit like the transitional leadership when a nation is newly independent, like South Sudan. Saul’s leadership, involving some good things and some bad, governed the kingdom until he died and was succeeded by King David, 1 Samuel 13:14; 15:26 and 16:1-13.

5. King David

King David was called by God to establish his kingdom under His leadership. David has been described in the Bible as a “man after God’s own heart”, “one better than you (Saul)”, 1 Samuel 13:14; 16:28. Remember, the same God who gives a leadership position, can also take it away, in His own time. It was a while before King David established and represented the government in all the public powers of leadership, 2 Samuel 5:4-5; 7:1-17. Waiting, while still in God’s service, can be part of God’s preparation for leadership.

6. Daniel

Daniel’s leadership was well known at the time of exiles in Babylon. God called Daniel to total obedience to the Lord, Daniel 1:1-21. He became stronger in his own faith through the frequent challenges he personally faced, 2:19-23. Eventually the whole nation and nations around were aware of Daniel’s living God, 6:25-28. Daniel’s personal faithfulness brought honour to Almighty God in his lifetime.

7. Nehemiah

Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild. Nehemiah’s vision was to take the message of reconstruction to the community of the people of God. His mission was practical, successful and transforming. It was a vision for the renewal of God’s people, Nehemiah 1:3-4; 2:4-6; 2:17-18; 2:20; 4:6; 4:20-21; 6:15-16.

Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christian leadership

“The leadership of Jesus is seen by Christian theologians as the incarnation of the reign of God. In Jesus’ inaugural sermon He reminds His community of the kind of leadership God called Him to embrace. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’, Luke 4:18-19.[41] Jesus teaches us many things about authentic spiritual leadership. Kingdom priorities must come first in the life of a leader. Servant leadership brings hope of transformation to life. Suffering has merit when done to fulfil God’s purpose. Leaders must teach and theologise with integrity, by being true to the context of the community they serve. Religious leadership must affirm the humanity of all people under the grace of God”.[42]

Jesus Christ was always suited to every leadership situation He faced. His leadership authority was and is fully God’s authority and fully man’s authority, Colossians 2:9-10. He alone was fit to serve all the various groups of people in their differing needs. Jesus Christ’s justice was and is love in action. He was and is committed to the weak and marginalised people. Jesus Christ taught His disciples that His vision was for ‘God’s reign in the affairs of humankind’. His leadership was liberating redemptive, prophetic transformation through sacrifice. His leadership led Him to His crucifixion to win God’s salvation for the world. Only our Lord Jesus can lead like this. Let us pray we may somehow get close to His standards, by His grace, for the sake of our people.

Jesus Christ taught His disciples, including us, that the first priorities of God’s kingdom must be seen in the leader’s life – servant leadership that brings “hope of transformation in life”. God’s leaders need to understand that the humanity of all people is owed to God’s grace. Leaders are to serve in God’s love and justice to achieve the transformation of all injustices and the many oppressions of this life, Ephesians 2:8-10.

Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christian biblical leadership, because He put into action all the biblical vision of God’s reign. He reached lives, transformed cultures, alleviated the social, political and harsh economic realities of people. He did not give people everything they asked for, but He pointed them in the right direction for obtaining it. He was often controversial and seldom easy. Freedom is service in God’s love. Justice must be the goal of Christian biblical leadership in my country and everywhere around the world. The foundations of Jesus Christ’s biblical leadership are known and seen in the following:

1. Jesus Christ knows who He is

Jesus Christ is a perfect leader and no leader like Him ever existed in this world. He knows very well who He is in God’s kingdom. As a leader you need to know who you are and what you are doing. Jesus expressed Himself in many Bible verses such as John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’”. This is a big challenge to every leader. Know yourself as a leader, both who you are and what you are doing.

2. Jesus Christ has clear vision in God’s kingdom

As a leader Jesus Christ knew His vision and mission in this world. He knew what God called Him to do. “As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world”, John 9:4-5. Jesus had clear purpose in His life on earth. This kind of leadership must be applied to Christian leaders serving wherever they are in God’s Kingdom. Jesus is ‘a purpose-driven leader’. Remember, God has a purpose to fulfil in your life as a leader.

3. Jesus Christ knows who to please

Jesus Christ worked hard to please God His Father in heaven. He pleased God in what He did in God’s kingdom. As Christian leaders, we are to do our work to please God the Father too. We must seek to be like God the Son Jesus, God the Holy Spirit and all godly servants of God, Matthew 3:15-17; John 15:26-27; 16:13-15. We cannot please everyone on earth, but our top priority is always to please God by providing services that He wants to bless others.

4. Jesus Christ works with His disciples as team workers

One of the styles of Jesus’ leadership was to form a team to work for God’s ministry and successfully reach all nations of the world with His good news, Matthew 28:18-20. The great leaders of the world are team workers. They are team builders. Jesus would perhaps not have been successful in His ministry if He had worked alone. He chose to form a team of twelve disciples to evangelise the world, Mark 3:14-15. This is a good example of team work to achieve mission and must be followed by all Christian leaders, whatever their calling, for Jesus never did His work alone. Even at the cross a few friends gathered close by.

5. Jesus Christ focused on priorities

Jesus Christ always set priorities for what was important in God’s kingdom. He did this because He knew He had a limited time for work on earth before returning to heaven. “My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work. I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do”, John 4:34; 17:4.

6. Jesus Christ set time for personal meditation with God the Father

Jesus Christ made time to exercise Himself with God. He listened, confided and talked to God in His prayers, Mark 1:35. In His busyness He invited His disciples to come aside. Christian leaders need to do something similar with a place and a time to meditate, to listen to God as we study the Bible, because God speaks to us even now through the Bible. Remember, the best prayer time is a two-way conversation. “After Jesus had dismissed them, He went up by Himself on a mountainside to pray”, Matthew 14:23. See also Luke 5:15-16.

7. Jesus Christ is always present with His disciples

Jesus was and is always readily available to His disciples to care for their needs and, through them, the needs of others. Whilst we can never be omnipresent, Christian leaders are to try to be physically present with the members of their families, their churches, their business and their nation, wherever they are called by our Lord to be serving. “As they (the disciples after the crucifixion) talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them”, Luke 24:15.

8. Jesus Christ made time for rest

Jesus Christ as a leader worked very hard. But He also set apart time for rest and relaxation. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’”, Mark 6:31. This too is an example good Christian leaders need to practise. We do not need to feel guilty at taking off our ‘Sabbath days’, Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:23-28. We need to take rest just as much as Jesus Himself used to do, probably more.

Vision of biblical leaders

Vision is a major topic in biblical leadership, because no biblical leadership exists without vision. God has stated it very clearly in the Bible: “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he”, Proverbs 29:18.[43] “A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order. Happy are those who keep God’s law”.[44] “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law”.[45] These three translations of the same verse show that clear vision makes people happy and leads them to observe the law to achieve leadership and spiritual development for the betterment of all God’s people.

Vision is defined by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner as “knowing who you are, where you are going and what will guide your journey”.[46] Vision comes from God and it is the “power of creating a picture of the future of the people. It is a bridge which connects this present life with the future life”.[47] Effective leadership is promoted by “vision and vision is concerning the activities to achieve for the future”.[48] Commitment to a real vision “builds trust, collaboration, interdependence, motivation and mutual responsibility for success”. [49] Vision helps people make smart choices and helps them to reach their desires and fulfil needs. A true vision must be made into a written vision statement, which creates for the organisation a clear way to achieve its stated goals. Vision greatly assists people in aiming at the right target. The vision that inspires people, which provides directions and realities, has at least three elements:

1. A main purpose

2. A picture of the future

3. Clear values that guide people’s behaviour and daily decisions.

Vision creates a strong culture of the organisation, where all people are aligned and have shared goals. Shared vision helps make an organisation successful and makes leaders focus on serving and being responsible to the needs of people. Such leaders understand that the role of leadership is to help people achieve their joint vision and remove any barriers which prevent success. Vision is created and leaders need to involve other people to produce a shared and group-owned vision. Vision and leadership are different words that have mutual responsibility for the success of the group. The source of biblical vision is God not self, Ezekiel 3:12-15, Mark 8:34-35. Its nature is future–oriented.

God’s vision always empowers and encourages His leaders to serve their people first. Visionary leadership transforms individuals, churches and even nations, challenging the whole society to achieve higher levels of developments to benefit all. People experience changes when applying vision in their lives and they are transformed into more advanced social, human and spiritual development.

Biblical leadership transforms individuals, churches and nations

To see how this transformation happens it is necessary to understand the meaning of ‘individual’, ‘church’ and ‘nation’. God brings about transformation in individuals, families, churches, communities and nations, when local Christian leaders understand and respond in the affirmative to His full intentions. Biblical transformation is defined as the “process of restoration to God’s intention of all that was broken when humanity rebelled against God at the fall”.[50] Biblical leadership transformation occurs when the individual, church and nation understand what Jesus Christ expects His people to proclaim, which is the good news of salvation, and when they advocate for His rule in their communities while they demonstrate His love in action to all others. Biblical transformation happens when individual Christians, then churches and then nations are in obedience to Jesus’ great commission and witness real transformation themselves into new creations in Jesus Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here”, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Under God’s leadership and with God doing the transformation, desires for healing and the restoration of individuals, families, communities, states, nations and all things can be met.

Many Christians pray to the Lord, when inviting Him into their lives, saying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, Matthew 6:10. God’s desire for us is that we live according to the scriptures physically, spiritually, socially, ethically and intellectually. God want us to obey Him in every area of life and He will heal our brokenness, both individual and collectively, as we grow in obedience to God’s will. This will positively influence our families, churches or communities and where communities influence cultures, nations are transformed. It starts with individuals and spreads widely through the country like fire through dry wood ready to be consumed. The biblical understanding of transformation is what happens when we recognise that Christ’s bloodshed was for the restoration of ourselves and all other people, everything that was broken by the fall of mankind into sin, Colossians 1:9-23.


‘Individual’ in this biblical terminology is the person who has committed his/her life to Jesus Christ and lives the Christian’s life in God’s sight, always doing His will however costly.


Jesus Christ said, “You are Peter (the Greek name means ‘rock’) and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”, Matthew 16:18. The study of church in theological terminology is called “Ecclesiology”. The word church in the New Testament originates from the Greek word Ekklesia that means “an assembly, or congregation”. It definitely does not mean a building! Rather it means people, those in the New Testament who are Christian believers everywhere in the world. The true Church today is the body of Christ – Christian believers – worldwide. Christ is the Head, Colossians 1:17-18; born again people are the body, Ephesians 4:20-24; when we are persecuted, Jesus Himself is persecuted, Acts 9:4; we Christians are “a holy nation”, “the people of God”, 1 Peter 2:8-9. Therefore, local churches right across the world are communities of God’s people, small expressions of a very big Church. We exist to evangelise the world and to teach the believers to understand God and be obedient to Him, Matthew 28:18-20. The true Church can never fail because it is based upon a rock.


We saw earlier the word ‘nation’ is a western term that has a historical understanding to build up state and society. It is defined as children being born to her soil. The nation is a mother land and her specific work is to join those born in the land, giving them the freedom to become one people or one community. Nationality means belonging to a certain ethnic community. The word Ethno means ‘community’ in the Greek language. The people of one nation share public powers, economic relationships, culture and languages, in given geographical locations. Someone has said, ‘the nation lives together when citizens share values, customs, goals, and communicate with everybody else’s too’. It is when individual people are transformed by God that they in turn change churches and in time can revolutionise the nation for the better, in peaceful and prosperous ways, Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37; 6:1-7. Outsiders watch people who are on the inside. When they like what they see, evangelism spontaneously occurs. No one can ever argue against a visibly changed life.

Characteristics of a good leader

What are the various characteristics of good leadership? There are qualities in their personalities that the leader possesses which make him/her a good leader. Some leaders possess more than four of these (see below) and others less than three, but the one who possesses many of these leadership qualities will likely be successful in what he/she does. Every leader needs to gain these qualities to be effective and successfully lead the organisation. We may not mention all the characteristics of a good leader, but we will set some examples out here:

1. Hard work

Every leader must be a hard-working person in their leadership position. Hard working means that the person is busy, diligent and creative in doing the work. He is the kind of person who presents in daily activities and directs or supervises his/her business affairs wisely and well.

2. Courage

Courage is “the ability to do things that are dangerous, frightening or very difficult”.[51] A leader should have the courage to encourage others (to put courage into others) and to resolve problems he/she decides on every day while directing the organisation. The courageous leader works on in any situation, whether dangerous or peaceful.

3. Confidence

Leaders who supervise their organisation’s affairs need to have self-confidence, to believe in their own abilities. Confidence is the ability to believe that you are capable to do something. A leader knows he/she can develop the society, but he/she shows humility and not arrogance.

4. Reliability

A leader should be able to be trusted and dependable. They must work hard to make progress in follow up and to keep ground gained.

5. Concern for people

Leaders who are concerned for people help many others. They know they are responsible for the needs of their workforce and must come to them to show they are important to them. People are the manpower who promote the organisation.

6. Decisiveness

The term ‘decisiveness’ means the ability to reach a decision to do things. It often involves being quick, but not foolish, in drawing a conclusion. The leader needs to possess this quality to solve conflicts in his/her organisation, plus at other times.

7. Firmness of vision

The leader should keep the vision of good results in performing all the activities that promote the organisation’s development. As some light guides forward through the darkness, so the leader holds the light of the agreed vision firmly in front of everyone.

8. Perseverance

The leader should be a person who starts and completes every task so that they end with good results. Perseverance is “a determined attitude that makes you continue trying to achieve something that is difficult”.[52] When you persevere, you do not give up.

9. Active participation

The leader needs to possess the ability to be the one who joins in appropriately any work he/she plans. This may involve working out the implementation of a project, monitoring it and evaluating it regularly with the team. The leader sets the example to the workers. He/she is a visual aid of a good worker.

10. Commitment and dedication

This quality means that the leader will remain responsible in doing the work. Although delegating to others, he/she does not wash his/her hands of all responsibility. Believing it to be good and right, he/she will devote appropriate time and effort to it.

11. Taking initiative

The leader will act in an independent (but not isolationist) way for doing the work. The leader is ready to start the work, solve problems arising, act before others and continue to make evaluative follow-up towards the goals.

12. Optimism

Optimism is a way that the leader focuses on positive issues in all circumstances. The leader looks for good results in anything and expects that the positives will overcome any negative issues. The leader has a hope or good vision to do things. For the Christian, this depends on him/her trusting and obeying God.

13. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is the way a person carries out their work with interest, confidence, even excitement. The leader can develop concentration because he/she has good purpose. Christians and public leaders need to develop in their own personal leadership. The qualities of a good leader build up their organisations, so work to become a good leader. Be even better tomorrow than you are today.

These thirteen characteristics of good leadership are very essential for every leader whatever their leadership levels. Reading and applying the Bible to life will always benefit them and their people through them.

Necessary skills of positive leadership

Positive leadership is a result of the practice of most of the above leadership skills in various circumstances. When the leaders use these skills, it will improve their performance in all leadership situations. The skills that the effective leaders possess can also be divided into three parts:

1. Technical skills meaning the ability to use knowledge, methods, techniques, equipment, and so on, for the performance of a certain task needed, from the experience, education and training of a qualified person, and for the development of the society. The success of the institution or organisation needs these skills performed from an individual’s knowledge and experience.

2. Conceptual skills are skills by which the leader must understand the overall management of his/her organisation and how each individual worker fits into the whole operation. This skill also lets each sub-leader and worker perform duties in line with the goals and objectives of the organisation.

3. Human skills meaning the ability to relate to and work well with other people in the organisation. It is knowing the right way of working with other people, perhaps treating one a bit differently from another where needed. The leaders continue working with the workers/followers, providing motivation and encouraging combined effort.

Human resources skill is very important because it deals with the relationships of people and the daily rules and regulations of the organisation. Human skills provide their specific institution of how each daily activity is managed and supervised, by the individuals or groups of workers. Both technical and human skills play an important role in the organisation set up, because all leaders need participation and relationship with people in their daily production tasks to make the organisation successful. Conceptual skills play a role in the general set up of the organisation and make each unit or department function to produce well for the complete group.

Leaders of organisations/institutions/churches/nations need additional skills to be successful in managing their subordinates/workers:

1. Planning is very important for the leader, because it is a process in which the leader identifies the present resources and sets desired activities to meet the future goals. The planning process includes designing the system to follow, setting goals and objectives for the organisation, identifying the required resources and sourcing of them and then making a timed action plan for the benefit of the organisation.

2. Organising refers to the arrangement of the resources for the implementation of tasks in line with people and their needs. The leader gives people jobs suited to their skills in knowing how best to perform their duties. The authority of the individual must be clear in accordance with the structure of the organisation.

3. Directing means guiding and supervising the activities of all workers to ensure that performances meet the goals and objectives of the organisation.

4. Coordinating means to control the activities of various groups, synchronising all at once to ensure that the work goes on successfully and without stopping. The various sections produce one result and are united together.

5. Controlling is another leadership skill designed to ensure that every task in all offices, units and departments, is performed successfully and progresses. The controlling process includes realistic assessments, monitoring and evaluating them, before making appropriate decisions. This skill is best developed efficiently while carrying out leadership tasks. Controlling need not mean dictating or ‘hands on directing’ everything yourself!

6. Communicating must be effective between leaders and the workers of every organisation. Good communication conveys messages to the workers/offices and receives messages from them. It exists in two ways. Communicating is not only giving a message. It must be intelligibly received. A communicator must know if he/she has been understood or not. This exchange of messages may include talking face to face, speaking on the phone, listening over Skype (or equivalent), writing, emailing and reading. The leader needs to use all aspects of communication skills to try and make the workers understand the rules and regulations of the organisation, to solve emergencies and arising conflicts, which could hold up everybody’s progress.

7. Delegating is needed at the time the leader has an overload of work or is absent from his/her office. It means to transfer some work to appointed specific others. Sumbye Kapena is Senior Lecturer in the School of Business, Copperbelt University, Zambia. He gives us his explanation of the word “delegate” using an alliteration to help us remember how to delegate to other people:

D= Deciding what to delegate to individuals

E= Electing the person/individual to be your delegate

L= Listing all that is to be involved in the tasks of the delegate

E= Explaining the task correctly to motivate the one who is delegated

G= Giving any training necessary to achieve the tasks

A= Allowing freedom for him/her to work

T= Telling others in the organisation about his/her delegation

E= Evaluating the performance of his/her delegation[53]

To delegate is very important, even before the need desperately arises.

8. Motivation means to make someone feel enthusiastic and determined to do something. This helps subordinates by creating a spirit of trust and confidence to achieve together the organisation’s goals and objectives.

9. Time management is very important. Every day that passes is a day we will never get back. The leader must know how to arrange his/her own time and be a good time planner for his team of co-workers. Effective time management means everything must be finished by the agreed time. This can make the organisation more efficient and successful. Hitting time targets reduces a lot of wastage.

10. Decision making is another vital leadership skill. It means the “ability to make choices quickly, confidently and effectively”.[54] Leaders make decisions about the distribution of duties and in the performance of tasks. Decision-making involves the ability to reach out to resolve conflicts within and outside the system. The wise leader reaches out to people to end the problem according to the nature of the conflict.

11. Setting the right example is important and very effective, because it shows others the right way to conduct themselves. The leader imagines he/she is part of the group and then leads others from there to work as required.

How to deal with various conflicts

There are many ways the leader can solve problems encountered in his/her organisation. Conflicts may appear between two workers or two groups of workers. They may arise between the leader him/herself and a worker, or another leader, or with groups of workers.

The leader can choose to use the methods outlined below to find a way of dealing with disagreements:

Six ways to solve conflict in an organisation

1. Ignoring it may be appropriate where individuals or groups of people are not desirous to meet face to face with each other. Their hot tempers need to cool down first. When the conflict becomes less sharp, the leader must decide when to bring the parties around the table for decisions to be made to end their conflicts.

2. Dominating the conflict where the leader controls or threatens by using force of communication on the parties to stop their angry disagreements and start working together normally. This method may be good in a situation that uses autocratic leadership styles, but must not become cruel or intolerant of others. Dominating is good in crisis situations like emergencies and in organisations which have clear structures and job descriptions requiring absolute obedience to their leaders, such as in the Army. It may become useful when other conflict resolution methods have not worked and the conflict continues unresolved.

3. Accommodating the parties in conflict, the leaders may bring two or more of them together around the table to discuss matters related to their disagreement. Good leadership will bring solution through dialogue and mediation. The leader may remind all the parties about the positive things they share together and, while not ignoring the negative aspects that bring conflicts, discuss from a position of common ground. This is especially helpful in an organisation which has a high level of shared interests, such as family, wider relatives, villagers, communities, etc.

4. Compromising is almost always necessary. “Compromise is a way of solving a disagreement in which both people (or parties) accept that they cannot have everything they want”.[55] It is the basis of much democracy. The leader brings the quarrelling parties together and takes time to listen carefully to their every argument. Then the leader points to the areas of weakness and strength on all sides, before convincing them that faults are in the nature of human beings. Given time and complete honesty, the leader gently but firmly assists the conflicting parties to bring peace between themselves.

5. Collaborating similarly uses time to listen to every argument of both (or more) parties. The leader or chairperson points out the negatives and the positives from every side and, together with outside observers or mediators, comes up with his/her own solutions to end the problems. This method is often used to end long term conflicts.

6. Administering punishment when necessary. Any sanctions and disciplines must be proportionate and clearly aimed at helping those punished, not hurting them. Discipline is not for revenge but for restoration. It must be fair and seen to be fair. It should be carried out immediately after faults. The offenders and the organisation must both be able to see how to progress forward after the issue is dealt with.


Jesus Christ, the foundation of Christian leadership, is the “head over every power and authority”, Colossians 2:9-10. Through His leadership God’s vision is accomplished. He raises up effective and productive human leaders in our churches, organisations, communities and for building our nations. Biblical leaders, who seek God’s will on earth, under God transform individuals, churches and nations for the good of society and God’s glory. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, Matthew 6:10. Today God still seeks leaders who will bear good fruits for His glory and work for the benefit of all people and the unity of His people, locally as well as all over the world. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love”, John 15:8-9.

God raises the biblical leaders who serve others first and who work for the good of others, to achieve what God has intended to overcome in the history of human beings. Ultimately every human need will never be satisfied until Jesus comes for the second time, to judge everyone and to restore us from the awful tragedies of sin. God seeks Christ-centred leaders, those with whom He can share His own heart and “all authority in heaven and on earth”, Matthew 28:18-20. He commands us to go to all nations, preaching, teaching and baptising people for kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ was a natural servant leader and is the answer to all the human needs in this world. All Christians, church leaders, community leaders, civic leaders and national leaders need to take Jesus’ styles of leadership and to live by them, while endeavouring to meet the needs of the people they serve. You need to live like the great leaders from the Bible, to do and establish God’s will for present and future generations. Biblical leaders are empowered by God’s vision. They seek it to be fulfilled at a given time, in certain geographical locations, whenever and wherever they are responsible. It is God’s purpose to achieve His vision through each leader who is totally available to Him for the good of other people.

Both the leaders of the church and the nation in South Sudan and Sudan should fulfil this vision today. It is the same God who worked with the great biblical leaders of their times who wants to work through us now. I hope and pray that every leader of church or nation will be creative along with their Creator, to bring about constructive change for the future with their people. God has called us into His holy service and ministry to serve His people for the advancement of His kingdom. Government and church are equally servants of God.

Nation-building needs committed, positive, biblical, Christ-like leadership, from God-gifted servants who will persevere to accomplish God’s will and bring the needful changes in Sudan and South Sudan, bringing everyone peace, security, productive satisfying work, medical care, educational opportunities and personal with community development. May God raise, call and equip Christian sons and daughters from the soil of our nations to fill these invaluable roles. May we grow within our means and cooperatively “rule over” the land and the livestock He has given us, Genesis 1:26-27. Fighting against each other has no place. May all of us fight together, shoulder to shoulder alongside one another, to become the nation God wants us to be.

Discussion guide

Using this chapter and Scriptures quoted

1. Define “biblical” in your own words. A highly critical study of the Bible could be considered “biblical” by some people. How do you suggest the word “biblical” be qualified so that it means something positive about the Bible? 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

2. What are the implications for nation-building from Proverbs 14:34? “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people”. Following what specific principles must we develop “a shared sense of identity or community among the various groups making up a particular” nation?

3. Taking Joseph, Genesis 41:41; Moses, Exodus 3:7-12; Queen Esther, Esther 4:15-17; and Daniel, Daniel 6:1-14; in turn, explain why they could be good and godly leaders who helped their (or their adopted) nations. Do not take too long on each one; alternatively, divide into four groups and look at one character each.

4. Using Kur’s list of ten “characteristics central to the development of servant leaders”, put them in your own order of importance. Give reasons for allocating them where you do.

5. “Jesus Christ was always suited to every leadership situation He faced”. Share as many examples of Jesus’ leadership from the four Gospels and Acts as you can, to support this statement.

6. How do biblical leaders “bear much fruit” in their service to God? “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love”, John 15:8-9. Be as specific as you can.

7. Since God told humanity to cooperatively rule over the land and the livestock, Genesis 1:26-27, how can we peacefully stop individuals, or groups of similar people, trying to do it on their own? Does it have to be peaceful? Why? Why not? Colossians 3:15.

[1] Charles H.H.Scobie The Ways of our God: an approach to Biblical Theology (W. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, Michigan) 2003, p.3-4. [2] Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2017, . [3] Peter G. Northouse (editor) Leadership Theory and Practice (5th edition, Sage Publications: Los Angeles, CA) 2010, p.5. [4] . [5] Todd Engstrom What is biblical leadership? article dated 11th November 2013. [6] Jan Warren Duggar The role of integrity in individual and effective corporate leadership (Journal of Academic and Business Ethics) 2009, p.1-4. . [7]David White What is integrity? 2014, . [8] . [9] Dr. Sinclair Dinnen Nation-building concept paper Australian National University, Canberra, 2006, p.1-11. [10] Andrea K. Riemer The concepts of state building, nation building and society building 2005, p.377. . [11] Pierre Manent A World Beyond Politics? A Defence of the Nation-State (New French Thought Series, Princeton University Press, NJ) 2013, revised 2017, p.23-31. [12] Collins online dictionary [13] Chambers Students leaving dictionary for intermediate learners of English (Hodder & Stoughton: London). [14] Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law State-Building, Nation-Building, and Constitutional Politics in Post-Conflict Situations, essay from the (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands)2005, p. 580-613. [15] Andrea K. Riemer The concepts of state building, nation building and society building 2005, p.371. [16] Good News Translation. [17] Andrea K. Riemer Ibid. [18] Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law State-Building, Nation-Building, and Constitutional Politics in Post-Conflict Situations, essay from the (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands)2005, p. 580-581. [19] Dr. Sinclair Dinnen Nation-building concept paper Australian National University, Canberra, 2006. p.1-5. [20] Chambers-EAEP English Student Learner's Dictionary (London) July 2009. [21] Wilbur O’Donovan, Biblical Christianity in African Perspective (Paternoster Press: Milton Keynes, UK) 1996, p.41-43. [22] Chambers-EAEP English Student Learner's Dictionary (London) July 2009. [23] AV, KJV, NKJV, NASV and more translations. [24] Encouragement to Sudanese/South Sudanese Christian Workers, No. 49 “All authorities … established by God”? September 2017. Also see chapter 19 of this book, p.384. [25] Wilbur 0’Donovan Biblical Christianity in Modern Africa (Send the Light: Carlisle) 2000, p.167-180. [26] Dr. Adem Zogjani The Role of Power in Effective Leadership and Followership: the Albania Case (University of Haxhi Zeka, Peje, Kosovo) . [27] Robert H Palestini Educational Administration: Leading with Mind and Heart: (ScarecrowEducation: 2nd edition Oxford, UK) 2005, p.204-210. [28] Sumbye Kapena How to be a wise leader (Paulines Africa: Nairobi) 2013, p.25-34. Dr. Adem Zogjani The Role of Power in Effective Leadership and Followership: the Albania Case (University of Haxhi Zeka, Peje, Kosovo) . p.8-9. [29] Cardone Industries Inc. Core Philosophy (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) 1970, . [30] Ken Blanchard Leading at a Higher Level (Pearson Educational Ltd., Harlow, UK) 2010, p.17-30, p.268-270. [31] Good News Translation. [32] The Voice. [33]Robert K Greenleaf The Servant as Leader 1970. [34] . [35] Good News Translation. [36] Larry Spears & Michele Lawrence Focus on Leadership: Servant-Leadership for the Twenty-First Century (John Wiley & Sons: Canada Ltd.) 2002, p.7,227. [37] [38] Robert K. Greenleaf The Power of Servant Leadership (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: San Francisco) 1998, p.53. [39] Sumbye Kapena How to be a wise leader (Paulines Publications Africa: Nairobi) 2000, p.23. [40] Thorsten Grahn Jesus: the role model for Christian leadership (Claybury International) 2011, p.1-3, . [41] King James Version/Authorised Version. [42] Dr. Forrest. E. Harries, Sr. The Biblical Foundations of Leadership (President, American Baptist College: Nashville, TN) p.5. [43] King James Version/Authorised Version. [44] Good News Translation. [45] New American Standard Bible. [46] Ken Blanchard Leading at a Higher Level (Pearson Educational Ltd., Harlow, UK) 2010, p.28-30. [47] Kris Vallotton The Power of a Vision October 2009. [48] Guy S. Saffold Strategic Planning: Leadership Through Vision (Evangel publishing house: Nairobi, Kenya) 2005 p.130-148. [49] Ibid. p.18-19. [50] Robert Moffitt quoted in To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City by Eric Swanson and Sam William (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI) 2005. [51] Macmillan School Dictionary (Oxford UK) 2004. [52] Macmillan School Dictionary (Oxford UK) 2004. [53]Sumbye Kapena How to be a wise leader (Paulines Publications Africa: Nairobi) 2000, p.50-51. [54] Macmillan School Dictionary (Oxford UK) 2004. [55] Macmillan School Dictionary (Oxford UK) 2004.


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