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Relevant Verses: Ezra, Nehemiah, Matthew 20:25-28

Leading question: After we put Jesus at the head of our list of good leaders described in the Bible, which ones would you rank as the three next best leaders?

Leadership: Jesus as the ideal. Evaluating various leaders in the Bible for their strengths and weaknesses is an intriguing exercise. But we should always start with Jesus as the ideal model of the servant leader. Jesus’ response to James and John when they asked for “leadership” positions sets the ideal for us:

25 “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Comment: Jesus’ statement provides more of the ethos of leadership rather than guidance for specific tasks of leadership. Among the disciples, for example, Andrew and Peter, the two brothers reveal two quite different perspectives. Peter was always recognized as the forthright leader; yet Andrew is revealed in the Gospels as one who is always bringing someone to Jesus. After all, he brought his brother Peter to Jesus (John 1:42), he brought the little boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus (John 6:8-9), and he introduced to Jesus the Greeks in the temple (John 12:21-22). Peter and Andrew are two quite different leaders, but effective in their own way.

Other leadership choices. Rank your choices within each of the following groupings:

Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and Joshua. Rank in order effectiveness.

Deborah, Barak, Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah. Rank in order of quality of leadership.

Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, David. Rank in order of moral qualifications to be leader of Israel.

Nehemiah and Ezra. Which was more effective as leader?

Who was the better king? Do the biblical assessments of these men change your vote?

Hezekiah (2 Kings 8:5-6). “He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following him but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses.

Josiah (2 Kings 23:25). “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.”

Remembering Paul’s counsel. If a good leader is inclined to take credit for his leadership skills, he should remember these comments from the Apostle Paul:

Friends, I have used Apollos and myself as examples to teach you the meaning of the saying, “Follow the rules.” I want you to stop saying that one of us is better than the other. 7 What is so special about you? What do you have that you were not given? And if it was given to you, how can you brag? – Cor. 4:6-7, CEV

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