Five Behavioral Traits of a Biblical Leader

Whether or not you look to the Bible as a source of spiritual guidance in your life, you can still learn a lot about how to lead from a key passage found in Matthew 20:25-28:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

By saying “not so with you,” Jesus was drawing a line in the sand for his disciples that demonstrated how different they were called to be from the worldly leaders of the day. Instead of flaunting authority and power over people, they were called to serve. This was a transformational idea then, and it’s just as transformational of an idea now because we need more leaders who will choose to serve rather than to be served.

In order to be a leader who serves others over self, focus on the following five behavioral traits. If you will commit to developing yourself in these five areas, you will become the type of leader that others want to follow.


1) Humble Heart – in order to serve you cannot think that you are better than others, and you cannot only think of yourself. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

2) Pursues Excellence – everything you do—words, actions, thoughts, tasks large and small—should be done in a spirit of excellence. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

3) Mission-Driven – it takes focused action in order to achieve your goals. If everything is important, nothing is important. Focus on serving and leading where you have been called; don’t try to be all things to all people.

4) Vision-Oriented – you need to have clarity about what future success looks like. Being vision-oriented means to have a preferred picture of the future that inspires passion in you and in those whom you lead and serve. The key here is that the vision is never self-serving; it’s always about the success of others and the organization.

5) Unwavering Perseverance – when your heart is humble, and you are focused on achieving your goals and vision with excellence, your work is not in vain. Even when you have setbacks and challenges, you must never lose sight of the difference you make in the lives of others when you serve them and work together to achieve something of significance.

Take some time to reflect on these five areas to see how you are currently doing. The good news is that you can work on each of these and get better. However, it all starts with #1—humility. Without a humble heart, servant leadership cannot exist. Therefore, the first place to start is by examining your heart to ensure that you are leading for the right reasons.

Questions for Reflection:

What is your motivation for leading—is it about you or others?

Would other people consider you a servant, or self-serving?

Do you regularly ask for feedback?

What is one area where you can focus on improving your leadership today?

What to learn more?

I recently spoke on this topic. To listen to the message, CLICK HERE


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