What Does a Spirit-Filled Leader Look Like? They Fear the Lord

To the degree a Spirit-filled leader fears God, he or she will fear no man. In other words, a Spirit-filled leader lives in fear of the Lord, not in fear of man. 

What Is the Fear of the Lord?

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). And every Spirit-filled leader needs wisdom!

Here’s what the Bible says about the “fear of the Lord.”

  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”—Psalm 111:10
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”—Proverbs 1:7
  • “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.”—Proverbs 15:33
  • “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”—Psalm 19:9

In Hebrew, the word translated as “fear” is “yirah.” This word is used in phrases such as “fear of the Lord.” It means…

  • Respect
  • Reference
  • Awe
  • Worship

It is also associated with “trembling.” Can you imagine seeing or being in the presence of something or someone so great that you tremble with awe and reverence? This is what it means to fear the Lord. It’s been said that the fear of the Lord is the only thing that can overcome the fear of man. 

Being a Spirit-filled leader, you must meditate on, revere, honor, and respect God’s opinion about a matter over man’s opinion. It is then that you will live in the fear of the Lord. It is then that you will be able to lead with wisdom.   

What Is the Fear of Man?

Walking in the fear of man over the fear of the Lord is a dangerous place to be, especially as a Spirit-filled leader. This means you are no longer trusting God but focusing more on human opinions, pressures, and worries. 

Here’s what the Bible says about “the fear of man.”

  • “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”—Matthew 10:28
  • “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”—Psalm 118:8-9
  • “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”—Proverbs 29:25
  • “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’”—Acts 5:29

David reminds us that the Lord is our light and salvation. Therefore, we do not need to fear man.

  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”—Psalm 27:1

Paul says one thing is certain. When we fear the Lord, not man, we are serving Christ.

  • “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”—Galatians 1:10 

So then, if God is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31)? Whoever or whatever is against you is nothing compared to the awe and glory of God.

Spirit-Filled Leaders Do These 4 Things

Spirit-filled leaders are ones who are led by the Spirit and power of God, do not fear man, and stand in awe of the Lord. 

Here are 4 ways Spirit-filled leaders live out the gospel in a world that is hostile toward the gospel….

  1. They are present in the culture.

In today’s chaotic world, it can be tempting to put our heads in the sand and just wait for Jesus’ return. While we want to anticipate His return at any moment, we also must be present in our culture. Spirit-filled leaders don’t run from the darkness; they run to it so they can present the Light of the World—Jesus!

As a Church, we cannot accomplish the Great Commission through isolationism or escapism. God has embedded us in the culture to be a light in the darkness. 

  • Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…”
  • Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
  1. They pray for God’s power.

It’s important to remember that as a Spirit-filled leader, you do not battle against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). The real enemy is never someone you can see but rather the one unseen behind the scenes. 

You need God’s power to see past the natural and into the spiritual. His power fills you so that you can be living proof of God’s love to a watching world. 

Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, and pray for those you lead. Likewise, pray for the unbelievers in your sphere of influence to have their blinders removed. It is only through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the veil covering the eyes of unbelievers is taken away. 

  • Second Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
  1. They process the gospel with compassion.
Two men smiling and talking during an Abundant Life leadership summit.

Spirit-filled leaders don’t have to live in fear of man, but at the same time, remember that the purpose of talking with people about the good news of Jesus is to win hearts, not arguments. This demands the right position and the right disposition—compassion.

Compassion isn’t just an emotion; it’s also an action. In Hebrew, the word for compassion describes how a mother cares for her baby. It means to be deeply moved. 

Spirit-filled leaders are moved by the heart of God for the things of God. 

  • Psalm 86:15 says, “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”
  1. They prepare for persecution.

As a Spirit-filled leader, you must remember that the gospel caused both revival and a riot. It’s irresistible to some while reprehensible to others. The gospel, by nature, is confrontational. It’s divisive. It’s good news to some but bad news to others. 

Therefore, don’t be surprised at the “persecution” you could endure. It could be an insult, embarrassment, or discrimination. The Apostle Paul warned that if you want a godly life in Christ, there will be some persecution.

  • Second Timothy 3:12 says, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

The Takeaway 

A Spirit-filled leader lives in fear of the Lord, not in fear of man. The fear of the Lord creates safety around them because they are seeking God’s will and fulfilling His purposes. But a Spirit-filled leader also must be aware of 4 things when being living proof of God’s love to a watching world…

  1. Spirit-filled leaders must be present. They don’t run and hide in a dark world.
  2. Spirit-filled leaders must pray for God’s power. It is only by His power that they will be able to accomplish His will. 
  3. Spirit-filled leaders must process the gospel with compassion. It isn’t about winning arguments but rather winning hearts. 
  4. Spirit-filled leaders must prepare for persecution. Whether the persecution comes as insults or incarceration, Paul reminds us to expect some type of hostility if we desire to live a life for Jesus. 

Do you want to learn more about becoming a Spirit-filled leader? Discover principles you can apply to your life, family, small group, work, or anywhere in our free study Biblical Leadership Principles: Learning from the Book of Acts.