Theology Thursday: What Is True Leadership?

Posted on September 22, 2016  in  [ Theology & Ministry ]

As we enter as a nation into the final stages of the presidential election season, we are forced to consider afresh what kind of leadership our country needs. We are faced with questions regarding the nature and purpose of leadership, as well as what constitutes effective leadership. And even though it may prove challenging to define quality leadership, most of us can recognize it when we see it.

As we consider these questions afresh in the midst of the election season, we would be wise to look to the example of true leadership in the person of Jesus the Messiah. Over 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah painted a portrait of the type of Messiah and king who would come to lead God’s people. The king’s job description is found especially in Isaiah 11:1-5. The king would come from the lineage of David, and he would be filled with the Spirit of God (11:1-2). Moreover, out of a heart that fears the Lord he would rule with integrity and impartiality, and he would render judicial decisions with righteousness and equity for his people (11:3-4). Indeed, he would be so characterized by righteousness and faithfulness that it can be said he is clothed with these virtues (11:5).

While it may be difficult to imagine that anyone could ultimately fit Isaiah’s job description, we find in Jesus a perfect match. Not only was Jesus born in the lineage of David, but he also was filled with the Spirit of God throughout his ministry (see Luke 4:1, 14-21). Further, Jesus never treated others with partiality but ministered to anyone he met, regardless of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity (see Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 17:11-19). Finally, as the true king of God’s people, Jesus looked not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others by sacrificing his life on the cross so that we might be set free from the penalty and power of our sin (see John 13:1-17; Philippians 2:1-11). And as the king, he was raised from the dead on the third day to win victory over death for all who belong to him. Indeed, it is not an overstatement to suggest that Isaiah’s job description of the quintessential leader is fulfilled perfectly and climactically in the person of Jesus.

In a world bereft of quality and godly leadership, let us look afresh to the perfect Leader, who is still alive and reigning in heaven as the King of kings. While we should make sure to pray for our current leaders and work within our society to ensure that quality leaders are put in place, let’s make sure we find our ultimate hope and joy in our true Leader, Jesus our king.

Want to dive deeper into the Theology Thursday series? Be sure to check back each week for a new article. To learn more about Grand Canyon University, visit our website or request more information using the button at the top of the page.

Joshua M. Greever, PhD

Faculty, College of Theology

Dr. Greever is an instructor of New Testament in the College of Theology at GCU. He received an MDiv and a PhD in New Testament before becoming a professor. He is married to Amelia and has four children. He loves the local church, reading books, and rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Learn more about Joshua M. Greever, PhD

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