The Sunday Scoop: What Does a Godly Leader Look Like

This content is from OPEN, a new online resource that serves as a guided journey through the Bible.

God’s Plan for Leadership

There are three distinct leadership roles in the Old Testament: prophet, priest, and king. The prophets stood in the presence of God, and heard the Word of God, so that they could speak that Word to the people.

The prophets gave leadership in the realm of truth. The ministry of the priests related to worship. They offered prayers and sacrifices in the temple and brought people into the presence of God through a ministry of pastoral care and counsel. The kings led the people into battle and protected them from their enemies. They were also responsible for leading the people in right paths, so that they would continue to enjoy the blessing of God.

These three ministries, taken together, show us God’s plan for leadership.  

The Good Shepherd

The prophet, priest, and king all figure prominently in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. When Jesus was tried before Caiaphas, the High Priest allowed shepherds to spit on Him, slap Him, and strike Him with their fists (Matt. 26:67). Then Jesus was sent to King Herod, who was responsible for defending God’s people. But Herod did nothing to defend Jesus. Instead, he sent Him to Pilate.

As governor, Pilate’s duty was to establish the truth and administer justice. But Pilate’s decision about Jesus was based on the prevailing mood of the people. Pilate washed his hands and went with the popular vote, which was for the crucifixion of the Son of God.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). Your Savior knows what it is like to suffer under shepherds who abuse power, subvert truth, and care more for themselves than for God. If you have suffered under abusive leadership, you have a Savior to whom you can come.

Shepherding God’s flock involves the ministries of the prophet, priest, and king. Those who are trusted by God with the responsibility of leadership in the church must not abuse their positions. It is an abuse of privilege to teach one’s own opinions, to neglect the spiritual needs of God’s people, or to impose unnecessary burdens on them.

Effective leaders will teach God’s truth, pastor God’s people, and lead God’s flock in paths that are pleasing to Him. They will focus on these duties because they are accountable to the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the sheep (Acts 20:28).


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