The term “biblical leader” often evokes an immediate association with religious figures such as pastors, elders, ministers, or Bible teachers due to their prominence and influence in many religious communities. However, biblical leadership is not limited to the formal church but extends to family and social settings, including parents, siblings, caretakers, and anyone responsible for leading others. A parent who leads their family in a way that honors God and sets a good example to others is also a biblical leader (see Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Let’s look at the characteristics of biblical leadership from the Bible that will help guide you to leading your family well.
4 Characteristics of a Biblical Leader
The following are some characteristics of a true biblical leader:
- A Biblical Leader Shows Servant Leadership
Servant leadership is a biblical principle that reminds us that leadership is about putting others' needs before our own. You can demonstrate servant leadership by creating time to listen to the needs of your family members and being empathetic. You can also show servanthood by leading by example. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate guide to servant leadership when He washed His disciples' feet despite being their Lord and Teacher.
- “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”—John 13:14-15
- A Biblical Leader Serves With Humility
Another characteristic of biblical leadership is recognizing you are imperfect and eliminating pride. You can demonstrate humility by admitting mistakes, showing accountability for your actions, and asking for forgiveness from family members and God. The Bible encourages humility from both parents and children. It says that parents should treat children with loving respect, bring them up with disciple and instruction from the Lord, and not provoke them to anger. And if children respond to their parents similarly, they will have a long life in the land (Ephesians 6:3). This principle is a way to be a biblical leader in the home using humility.
The Bible says…
- “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”–Ephesians 6:4
- A Biblical Leader Shows Unconditional Love
Family relationships are not always perfect; sometimes, we quarrel, disagree, and wrong each other. A biblical leader demonstrates unconditional love regardless of the wrongs committed by a family member. The Bible says that as children of God, we can demonstrate this amazing type of love–agape love (see 1 John 4:7).
Paul described this type of love…
- “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- A Biblical Leader Leads With Wisdom
Wisdom is a precious attribute in leadership. Biblical wisdom differs from earthly wisdom, which is rooted in selfish ambition. Earthly wisdom does not understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:13). Biblical wisdom comes from a deep relationship with God and a humble willingness to seek His guidance in daily activities, including how we care for and relate to our families. The Bible highlights the importance of godly wisdom and its benefits.
The Bible says…
- “Through wisdom, a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”—Proverbs 24:3-4
Leaders in the Bible
Biblical leaders mentioned in scripture led well when God was their focus. Did these biblical leaders falter at various times? Of course! But they always came back to God, humbly focusing on Him. The following people in the Bible have shown characteristics of a biblical leader we can use as examples in our families and other relationships.
Esther was a Jewish queen in the ancient Persian kingdom. She learned through her cousin Mordecai of Haman's plan to kill all Jewish exiles in the empire. She overcame her fears and was ready to give up all her privileges for the sake of her people (see Esther 4:16).
She showed humility by empathizing with the people despite her position in the palace. She also showed reception to wisdom by fasting and seeking God's guidance before seeing the king. She was brave and boldly approached the throne to make a request that would end up saving her people. Her story is a symbol of humility, wisdom, and servant leadership even today.
The story of Joseph is the perfect example of unconditional love in leadership. He was betrayed and sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. Despite the betrayal and the hardship he faced in Egypt, Joseph remained faithful to God's word and teachings, which helped him rise to a high position in the Pharaoh's court.
After many years, his brothers came to Egypt seeking food during a drought and famine. Joseph revealed himself, and they were terrified that he would seek revenge. On the contrary, he forgave them and provided them with food for themselves and their families, saving many lives (see Genesis 50:19-20).
The story of Hannah is always a powerful example of dedication and servanthood to God. She had prayed for many years to have a child and vowed that if God gave her a son, she would dedicate him to serving God her entire life. God heard her prayer and encouraged her through Eli, who was a priest, that He would answer her prayer. She was blessed with a son called Samuel. She remained true to her word and presented Samuel to the tabernacle, and left him with Eli to serve the Lord. Samuel became a successful priest who served by example in the coming generations. God also blessed Hannah with many children afterward (see 1 Samuel 1-4).
The following are some of the ways to instill characteristics of biblical leadership in your family and inspire them to live according to God's teaching;
- Teach and study the Bible: Encouraging your family to read and study the Bible together regularly can be a powerful way to instill important biblical principles and values.
- Lead by example: You should start by practicing the biblical teachings you intend to instill in others.
- Encourage prayer and worship: A praying culture allows you and your family to connect closely with God and seek His guidance.
- Encourage service: Biblical leadership entails serving others selflessly. Encourage family members to create time out of their busy schedules and participate in acts of service such as volunteering.
We are all called to lead in some capacity. To help your family and others cultivate their relationship with God, seek His guidance, and rely on His will, biblical leadership is essential. In leading your family members and others, embody the characteristics of a biblical leader by demonstrating servant leadership, unconditional love, serving with humility, and seeking God's wisdom.
Want more insights from God’s Word about how to grow your biblical leadership skills? Check out our free resource on biblical leadership principles here!