From as early as the Old Testament, the Bible has spoken about leaders. And we’ve read about how essential leadership is for Christians.
Not only is it important to have good, strong leaders, but it’s important that we know how to be those leaders as well.
We can see many examples of leadership in Bible verses. From Moses leading his people through parted seas to Jesus leading his disciples and eventually all Christians. And today, in all aspects of life we have leaders and the opportunity for leadership. Whether it’s in the churches, at home, or at work, leaders are often the pillars of communities.
But what does the Bible say about leadership? There are many Bible verses about leadership, being a leader, obeying your leaders, and how to recognize true authority. Through these scriptures, we can find genuine authorities to guide us through trying times and show us the way when we’re lost. Or, learn how to be true leaders ourselves.
Let’s take a look at these Bible verses and what they are telling us about power, control, working together, and leadership.
Verses About Leadership
There are many verses on leadership in the Bible. God needed to have worthy leaders on Earth who would speak the word of truth and not work for their own selfish ambition. And so the Bible tells us of leaders like Moses, Daniel, and David.
And it explains how these shepherds, as he often calls them, will reap a harvest by serving the church of God and the creator himself.
1. "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." Hebrews 13:17, NIV
This verse reminds those of us that are being led to recognize that our leaders have a job to do. And it does not help us, nor them, if we don’t trust them, and make their jobs even harder. When you have the right leaders, it’s important to follow them well and trust their judgments
2. “For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” Titus 1:7-14 ESV
In the book of Titus, we learn the virtues that God wishes to see in leaders and the traits that overseers should not have. Of all the scriptures on leadership, this is perhaps the easiest to understand and follow. And of course, we wouldn’t want someone who we need to be ashamed of in power.
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3. “But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Matthew 20:25-28 ESV
Jesus was one of the greatest leaders to ever live. Here, he speaks to his disciples, teaching them how he wishes them to become similar leaders. Rather than being power-hungry and he wanted them to serve their people. And here we see the true meaning of leadership.
4. "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;" Peter 5:2, NIV
As Jesus said, his disciples must be slaves rather than served if they are to lead correctly, this verse tells us a similar story. It speaks to leaders as shepherds, and God’s people as his flock. And tells those who want to be leaders to avoid leading for dishonest gain, and to keep the interests of others, and God’s will, at the forefront.
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5. “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
Very alike to what is said in the Titus verse above, here we hear more of what a true shepherd of God’s people should attain to be. Interestingly, this verse mentions how a man must be able to look after his home before he can be trusted to care for the church.
This is much like an employer seeking references. It’s easier to know you are able to do the job by looking at how you managed in similar positions.
6. “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 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 also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:13-17 ESV
It may seem odd to ask leaders to wash one another’s feet, but this comes back to leadership being focused on serving those you lead. While you don’t need to physically wash anyone’s feet, it’s important to remember that a true leader does not do it for power, money, or other selfish ambition. But rather to help, serve, and guide others.
7. “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” Exodus 18:21 ESV
This verse, from the book of Exodus, tells the people to find good, strong, God-fearing men to lead them. This came from the story of Moses leading his people while he is exhausted. His father-in-law, Jethro, visits him and advises him to find help in his leadership duties.
8. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 ESV
This is one of the Bible verses about leadership that speaks to those who need leading. It’s telling us to look to our leaders and how they live. If these authority figures follow God’s will, they will be shining examples of how to follow the word of truth and live a good life.
9. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV
All of the leaders mentioned in this verse lead and guide in their own way. It’s telling us that God sent us teachers, prophets, and other authorities, not to rule over us, but to equip us and guide us. While these leaders are mostly spoken of in the church, we can see that there is a purpose for authorities in other aspects of life as well.
Final Thoughts: Leadership Bible Verses
We can see from the many Bible verses on leadership that God wants us to have leaders who have the best interests of others in mind. They should be honest and strong leaders as well as help spread the word of God.
If you are a leader looking for guidance and encouragement, these verses will help you find just that. Remember that God has a plan for you and that he is always with you.