Monday, August 31, 2009

Three attributes of leaders who are worthy of respect

Tomorrow morning is the first regular meeting of my team... we meet once a week for three hours to cover the most important issues facing us at the time. I'll be leading our devotional time tomorrow, and I'm going to walk us through three attributes that the apostle Paul said made a leader worthy of respect. This is all taken from First Thessalonians 5:12-15.

One, they work hard. The word used for “work” here means work which is both difficult and exhausting. A good leader works hard, and as a result they deserve our respect.

Two, our leaders should care for us. The word used here is proistemi which has a semantic range which can include being over someone or can mean to care for someone. There is some debate on which meaning is intended here (some saying we respect them because of their position, some saying we respect them because of their care for us), but it seems to me that the author (indeed, perhaps the Greek language) is making the assumption that to be over someone includes the prerequisite in the job description that you care for that person as well. This would fit easily with Paul’s statement in 1 Thessalonians 2:11 that he cared for the Thessalonians, “like a father with his children.” It’s simply a natural expectation that those who lead are not only organizationally above those they lead, but also that they will care for those who are their responsibility.

Three, our leaders admonish us. Since no one even knows what admonish means in English, let alone Greek, I’ll tell you that the word admonish (noutheteo) can mean to instruct or to rebuke for wrongdoing, or to warn someone about the consequences of their actions. Here it most likely refers to general teaching, but a few verses later (v. 15) it clearly refers to rebuking someone for wrongdoing (“admonish the idle”).

So, three reasons to respect our leaders.

Or, if you’re a leader, three standards to compare yourself to: Do I work hard? Do I care for those under my authority? Do I instruct those under my authority?

What do you think? Who is a good leader from your life history who led in these three ways? Do you have negative examples where leaders didn’t do one or more of these things in their leadership?