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What Are the Qualities of Great Leaders?

April 15, 2022

What are the qualities of great leaders?

What Are the Qualities of Great Leaders?

By Brooke Holt

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8)

When people make lists of history’s greatest leaders, they often include Alexander the Great. As the master of Greece, Alexander sought to conquer the whole world, and he achieved this goal before his death at the age of thirty-three. Beyond Alexander, the Roman emperor Augustus established peace throughout the world, the Pax Romana, with his reign starting in 27 BC. Alexander and Augustus were admired, feared, and even worshipped in their day.

Then there was Jesus—a very different leader with completely different qualities. Instead of seeking to be like God, Jesus emptied himself of all the glory of being God to become a man. As part of the eternal Triune Godhead, Jesus is equal to his Father, and yet he surrendered that equality to embrace humility and obedience as the incarnate Son. Jesus fully surrendered to the Father’s will even when that meant dying on a cross. Jesus loves the Father and loves his people with a perfect and steadfast love.

And that is why the Apostle Paul was willing to give his life to follow Jesus. After Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus, that is exactly what Paul did. In this letter, Paul instructs the people of God on what it means to be a truly great leader. And many won’t like or receive his instruction because it begins with humility. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are called to follow his example of humility, surrender, and obedience. Beyond that, truly great disciples will love the Lord with all their being and love others as themselves (Matthew 22:36–40).

Just as Jesus was a shock to the ancient world’s definition of a great leader, so you will be as you practice his teaching. The greatest leaders follow the model of Jesus and lead others to the saving knowledge of him. “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11–12).


Are you a great leader? How do you practice humility, surrender, and obedience? Do you love the Lord and his people? Do you serve others with joy? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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