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Qualification of Leaders



One day, Confucius was asked by one of his disciples about the ingredients of good government. His answer: “Sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the confidence of the common people.”

“But,” asked the disciple, “suppose you had no choice but to dispense with one of those three, which would you forego?”

“Weapons,” said Confucius.

His disciple persisted: “Suppose you were then forced to dispense with one of the two that are left, which would you forego?”

Replied Confucius, “Food. For from of old, hunger has been the lot of all men, but a people that no longer trusts its rulers is lost indeed.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Last October the Prince and Princess of Wales allowed TV cameras into their home to film them as a normal couple with their two children.

During the interview Prince Charles described his job in these terms: "It, more than anything else, is a way of life. It's more than a job. It's a complete, 24-hour-a-day business, really."

Leadership in any organization - whether in the local church or in some other Christian activity - is never just a job. It is always a way of life, demanding from those who would be leaders a 24-hour-a-day commitment. The leader, in a sense, must always be on the job, deciding, directing and developing the work that has been entrusted to him while at the same time encouraging those in the work. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. ── John Maxwell.



I've met a lot of leaders in the Army who were very competent -- but they didn't have character. And for every job they did well, they sought reward in the form of promotions, in the form of awards and decorations, in the form of getting ahead at the expense of someone else, in the form of another piece of paper that awarded them another degree -- a sure road to the top.

You see, these were competent people, but they lacked character. I've also met a lot of leaders who had superb character but who lacked competence. They weren't willing to pay the price of leadership, to go the extra mile because that's what it took to be a great leader.

And that's sort of what it's all about. To lead in the 21st century -- to take soldiers, sailors, airmen into battle -- you will be required to have both character and competence.── General H. Norman Schwarzkopt, Speech to the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, in Reader's Digest.



S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. 

To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower." ── Adapted from S. I. McMillen, None of These Diseases.





Over a century ago, a colleague submitted to Asahel Nettleton a list of qualifications to be possessed by those who should be encouraged to enter the ministry. It read thus: (1) Piety; (2) Talents; (3) Scholarship; (4) Discretion. “Change the order,” said Nettleton, “put discretion next to piety.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence the supreme quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.── Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bits & Pieces, September 15, 1994, p. 4.



Peter Drucker offers insightful guidance to the church when he calls leadership a peak performance by one who is "the trumpet that sounds a clear sound of the organizations' goals." His five requirements for this task are amazingly reliable and useful for those who dare to lead churches:

(1) a leader works;

(2) a leader sees his assignment as responsibility rather than rank or privilege;

(3) a leader wants strong, capable, self-assured, independent associates;

(4) a leader creates human energies and vision;

(5) a leader develops followers' trust by his own consistency and integrity.

── H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, Pastors at Risk, Victor Books, 1993, pp. 227-228.



When the board of directors of a large food company was considering the selection of a new president, one of the directors worked out this questionnaire:

1. Who of the possible candidates is the best known as a personality to the most company people?

2. Who is the most liked and trusted by them?

3. Who is held in the highest regard outside the organization...in public life and "in the trade"?

4. Who is the most warmly human in his dealings with people?

5. Who has demonstrated the best capacity for selecting able people, and the greatest willingness to delegate authority and responsibility?

6. Who will be apt to do the best job of keeping his desk and mind clear of day-to-day operating problems, so he will have time to think in broader terms of tomorrow and next year?

7. Who does the boldest -- yet soundest -- thinking?

8. Who is most open-mined and willing to revise decisions when important new facts come to light?

9. Who inspires the best cooperation and exercises the best control and coordination, without "trespassing" on responsibility once delegated?

10. Who is most self-possessed in all situations, best able to adjust to personalities and circumstances and tact and understanding?

11. Who can be depended upon to make the most of a promising new plan or idea?

12. Who can "take it" the best under a heavy load of responsibility?

13. Who is the best builder of the people under him?

14. Who is most likely, in good times and bad, to remember that the basic job of the president is to operate the business at a profit?

── Bits & Pieces, May 26, 1994, pp. 18-20.



George Bernard Shaw's statement frequently flashes through my mind: "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." In a day of passing the buck with merely a shrug, those words bite and sting. It's one thing to sing and dance to liberty's tunes, but it's something else entirely to bear the responsibility for paying the band.

There are numerous examples of this. Being in leadership carries with it a few privileges and perks, but living with the responsibility of that task makes a reserved parking space and your own bathroom pale into insignificance. Conceiving children is a moment of sheer ecstasy, but rearing them as a loving and caring parent represents years of thankless responsibility. Enjoying a great conference is both delightful and memorable, but behind the scenes - count on it - are unseen hours of creative thinking, disciplined planning, and responsible arranging. Running an organization that gets a job done, leaving those involved feeling fulfilled and appreciated, can be exciting, fun, and stretching, but it's a nightmare unless the details of responsibility are clearly set forth and maintained. ── Charles Swindoll.



John W. Gardner, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, who is now directing a leadership study project in Washington, D.C., has pinpointed five characteristics that set "leader" managers apart from run-of-the- mill managers:

They are long-term thinkers who see beyond the day's crisis and the quarterly report.

Their interest in the company does not stop with the unit they are heading. They want to know how all of the company's departments affect one another, and they are constantly reaching beyond their specific area of influence.

They put heavy emphasis on vision, values, and motivation.

They have strong people skills.

They don't accept the status quo.── Success Magazine.



Leadership is not magnetic personality. That can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people; that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to higher standards, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. ── Peter Drucker.



Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives. ── Ted Engstrom.



Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others. One man can lead others only to the extent that he can influence them. This fact is supported by definitions of leadership by men who have themselves wielded great influence. Lord Montgomery defines it in these terms: "Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence."

Dr. John R. Mott, a world leader in student circles, gave as his definition: "A leader is a man who knows the road, who can keep ahead, and who can pull others after him." 

President Truman's definition is: "A leader is a person who has the ability to get others to do what they don't want to do, and like it."...

Lord Montgomery enunciated seven ingredients necessary in a leader in war, each of which is appropriate to the spiritual warfare: (1) He should be able to sit back and avoid getting immersed in detail. (2) He must not be petty. (3) He must not be pompous. (4) He must be a good picker of men. (5) He should trust those under him, and let them get on with their job without interference. (6) He must have the power of clear decision. (7) He should inspire confidence.

Dr. John R. Mott moved in student circles and his tests covered different territory: (1) Does he do little things well? (2) Has he learned the meaning of priorities? (3) How does he use his leisure? (4) Has he intensity? (5) Has he learned to take advantage of momentum? (6) Has he the power of growth? (7) What is his attitude to discouragements? (8) How does he face impossible situations? (9) What are his weakest points? ── J.O. Sanders in Spiritual Leadership, p. 19-24.