Leadership Based on Biblical Principles - 10 Leadership Lessons from Abraham
What Leadership Principles Do You Exemplify?
Abraham has been highly regarded by adherents of three of the world’s largest faith traditions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Indeed, Abraham is still thought of as the original patriarch of those faith traditions and thus stands as an example of faith and leadership to nearly three billion people around the globe. This article discusses leadership based on biblical principles by looking at lessons from Abraham’s life.
Abraham’s Early Life
According to the biblical accounts of his life, Abraham grew up in Ur of Chaldea - a precursor to the Babylonian civilization and empire located in present day Iraq before the Common Era. Sometime during his early years, Abraham (originally named Abram) was chosen and called by God to go to a land he had never seen beforehand at which place God would bless him and raise up his descendants to bless the whole world.
Biblical Leaders Respond Obediently to God’s Call
The first leadership lesson from the life of Abraham is that biblical leaders are obedient to God to answer his call on their lives. According to the account of Abraham’s life in the Bible book of Genesis, Abraham (as Abram) obeyed God and left his friends and relatives to go to the place God would send him which was modern day Palestine.
Effective Biblical Leaders Give Thanks to God
The second leadership lesson from the life of Abraham is biblical leaders give thanks to God for his blessings. After Abram (Abraham) arrived in modern day Palestine (called Canaan in Abram’s day), he built an altar between towns called Bethel and Ai to give praise and thanks to God for all God did for him.
Biblical Leaders Avoid Lying and Cheating for Personal Gain
The third leadership lesson one can learn from the life of Abraham is leadership according to biblical principles means not lying or cheating for personal gain. Sometime after Abraham arrived in Canaan a severe famine struck the land, so Abraham moved his family down to Egypt for a time. When he arrived in Egypt, Abraham asked his wife Sarah to say to the Egyptian officials that she was his sister, so that the Egyptians would not kill him on account of her. Even though the Lord God eventually intervened on their behalf, Abraham’s little white lie nearly cost him his wife and God’s blessing.
Effective Biblical Leaders Give Preference to Others
A fourth lesson to learn from Abraham is leadership according to biblical principles means giving preference to others. In other words biblical leadership is servant leadership which is follower-centered. The reason biblical leaders give preference to others is because they firmly believe that God will supply all their needs. Because they have faith in God to provide their needs, God-centered leaders can set aside the desire to fulfill their own personal needs to help others fulfill their own.
As recorded in Genesis 13, Abraham showed this tendency in an incident with his nephew Lot and Lot’s hired hands. God had blessed both men and given them both large herds of sheep and cattle. Eventually the land was not big enough to accommodate both men’s flocks and herds and their herdsmen began to quarrel with one another. As this, Abraham suggested to his nephew Lot that they should separate and gave Lot first choice of which area to take.
Biblical Leaders are Faithful to Friends and Family
Another lesson from the life of Abraham is leadership based on biblical principles includes being faithful to friends and family. In the account recorded in Genesis 14, Abraham’s nephew Lot was carried off as plunder during a war with powerful kings from a distant land. After he heard that his nephew had been carried off, Abraham did not delay but called out his best fighting forces and rescued Lot.
Effective Biblical Leaders Place Their Faith in God Alone
According to the account in Genesis 14 and 15, Abraham demonstrated another leadership lesson which is biblical leaders place their faith in God alone. Abraham demonstrated this principle in two ways. First, he refused to take any of the plunder he recovered when he rescued his nephew nor did he take any special gifts from the governing officials who he also rescued.
Second, after he had returned from the mission to rescue his family members, Abraham who was exhausted and at a low point began to doubt whether God would fulfill his promise to provide an heir through his wife Sarah. At that time God appeared to Israel’s highly regarded patriarch to comfort and reassure him by saying “Do not be afraid. I am your shield and very great reward.” The Lord God Almighty allowed his chosen one to vent his frustration then reiterated his promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or as grains of sand on the seashore. At that, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Biblical Leaders Do Not Run Ahead of God’s Timing
The account in Genesis 16 reveals another biblical leadership principle found in the life of Abraham that is, biblical leaders do not run ahead of God’s timing. In this case, Abraham was not a good example of this biblical principle. It had been nearly 13 years since God had made his promise to the patriarch to supply an heir through his wife. Both Abraham and his wife Sarah became impatient, so Sarah suggested he do the customary thing and have a child through her maidservant Hagar. Abraham capitulated but the child proved not to be the heir God promised and the child’s descendants became a snare to the rest of Abraham’s children.
Effective Biblical Leaders Intercede for Others
An eighth leadership lesson from the life of Abraham is that biblical leaders intercede for others by praying for them. According to the Bible account in Genesis 19, after he had reiterated his covenant with Abraham, the Lord God Almighty told him that he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah due to exceeding wickedness in those towns. When he heard God’s plan, Abraham became concerned and began to intercede for his nephew Lot who resided in Sodom.
In another incident recorded in Genesis 20, Abraham moved his family to the modern day area of Gaza due to another severe famine. Again, he asked his wife Sarah to lie and tell the local officials that she was his sister. Abimelech the local ruler took Sarah into his harem, but God appeared to Abimelech in a dream to warn him not to touch Sarah. The next morning Abimelech chastised Abraham and Abraham interceded or prayed for him that God’s hand would not inflict wrath on Abimelech’s people.
Biblical Leaders Believe Anything is Possible with God
A ninth leadership lesson demonstrated from the life of Abraham patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam was: biblical leaders believe anything is possible with God. In Genesis 18, God appeared to Abraham again and promised that he would have an heir through his wife Sarah within one year. At the time Abraham was 99 years old and his wife Sarah was 89 years old. Sarah who listened from outside the tent laughed in disbelief that she would bear a child to her soon to be 100 year old husband. When she laughed the Lord rebuked her and asked her if anything is too hard for God.
Furthermore, after the promised son Isaac was born God commanded Abraham to take the boy up a mountain to sacrifice him. Abraham obeyed without wavering. The author of the Bible book Hebrews tells us Abraham did so because he had faith that God could raise his promised son Isaac from the dead.
Biblical Leaders Understand That Leadership is a Lifelong Learning Process
The tenth lesson one can learn from the life of Abraham is growing to be a biblical leader is a lifelong learning process. When the Lord first called him, Abraham was not the most perfect man by any stretch of the imagination nor was he always perfectly obedient. As already shared Abraham lied about his life twice and almost forfeited God’s promises. Moreover, he ran ahead of God by listening to his wife Sarah to attempt to have a child through Hagar. Finally, God tested him by commanding that he sacrifice his promised son Isaac which Abraham could only do after many years of experiencing God’s faithfulness in his life.
These are 10 leadership lessons from the life of Abraham for effective leadership according to biblical principles.
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