The presence of Leadership is widely held to be critical, and its absence infinitely damaging; it is said that confusion between Leadership and Management has held back companies, and even countries, for years. Professor John Kotter of the Harvard Business School claims that leadership is the ‘key to creating (a) successful twenty-first-century organization… not only at the top of the hierarchy, with a capital L, but also in a more modest sense (l) throughout the organisation’. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner outline five fundamental practices of what they call ‘Exemplary Leadership’: ‘Challenge the process, Inspire a shared vision, Enable others to act, Model the way, Encourage the heart’, and then they note that ‘Leaders must be able to stand before us and confidently express an attractive image of the future – and we must be able to believe they take us there’. ‘Leadership, they say ‘is a relationship, founded on trust and confidence. Without trust and confidence, people don’t take risks. Without risks, there’s no change. Without change, organizations and movements die.’ Jim Collins has claimed in two best-selling books that while successful, visionary companies have learned to distrust the ‘myth of the great and charismatic leader’, the hero or saviour, there remains an essential need for strong leadership which insists on holding the company tight to its core values, and pushing it on to BHAGs, ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.’. For business, leadership is critical.
Politicians know it too. Two major contemporary secular thinkers in the field have contributed to the debate with seminal works on political leadership. John W. Gardner produced his academic definition, that ‘Leadership is the process of persuasion or example by which an individual (or leadership team) induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader and his or her followers.’ And James MacGregor Burns wrote that, ‘Leadership over human beings is exercised when person with certain motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with others, institutional, political psychological, and other resources so as to arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers.’. More recently, in a book surveying the expanding field of leadership studies, he states that ‘Leaders take the initiative in mobilizing participation in the process of change, encouraging a sense of identity and collective efficacy, which in turns brings stronger feelings of self worth and self-efficacy’. Strikingly, both Gardner and Burns notice that their definitions have absolutely no moral compass, and both to address the question in the form, ‘Was Adolf Hitler a Leader?’ No, replies Burns, although he transformed Europe, he was not virtuous or ethical except by his own twisted standards. Revealing his own version of the highest good, Burns notes that Hitler ‘failed – utterly – to create for the people of Germany lasting, meaningful opportunities for the pursuit of happiness… Hitler ruled the German people, but he did not lead them.’ Gardner concludes similarly that although Hitler had qualities ‘that would be counted as strengths in any leader, good or bad – his sheer force of personality, his extraordinary steadiness of purpose over the years, and his genius for organizing and mobilizing. But those strengths were turned to evil ends.’
Both business and politics, then, have noticed that there is a need for a higher set of values which their various definitions of leadership must serve in order to be good leadership. Good leaders are not just effective, they are ethically effective. Other fields are discovering this too. Writing with a background of training officers for the British army for many years, John Adair defines a leader as someone with ‘the appropriate knowledge and skill to lead a group to achieve its ends willingly’, and lists seven qualities of leadership: Enthusiasm, Integrity, Toughness, Fairness, Warmth, Humility and Confidence. Nor is this a new problem: the classic ancient Greek account of leadership is Xenophon’s thrilling account of a military expedition through hostile territory in Persia. Xenophon’s Chinese contemporary, Sun Tzu, produced a book on military tactics, The Art of War, which now finds itself re-branded as a handbook for business leaders: The Art of War for Executives.
Step into almost any Christian bookshop and you will also find a section marked ‘Leadership’, and although it is a relatively new phenomenon, it is a flourishing one. John C. Maxwell notes that his personal files contain over fifty different definitions of leadership, and highlights his personal conviction that ‘Leadership is influence. That’s it. Nothing more; nothing less.’. That conviction was probably first articulated by Oswald Sanders, when he wrote that ‘Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others’, and it has been echoed by Robert Clinton when he notes that “the central task of leadership is influencing God’s people towards God’s purposes’ According to Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, ‘everything stands or falls on leadership.’ The Christian journal Leadership has been published every quarter since 1980.
After a while, though, those two worlds, of secular and Christian leadership, seem to merge. The business gurus Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have edited Christians Reflections on the Leadership Challenge, to which John Maxwell has contributed a chapter and a forward. Ken Blanchard, who wrote the bestselling One-Minute Manager series, has become a Christian and written Leadership by the Book with Bill Hybels. Hybels hosts a Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek every summer, at which Christians, like Maxwell and Blanchard, share the stage with non-Christians like Jim Collins. John Adair quotes St. Paul.
Some of that merging is natural, because how else would we outline how a Christian might act in a secular company. And it is surely right to invite high profile leaders who are Christians to explain how the gospel shapes their work, and how it gives them those high ultimate values which secular leadership craves but cannot grasp. But some of the merger is unnerving. John Stott is surely right to note that ‘“Leadership” is a word shared by Christians and non-Christians alike, but that does not mean that their concept of it is the same. On the contrary, Jesus introduced into the world a new style of servant-leadership.’ How intriguing, then, that a highly influential best selling non-Christian book was called ‘Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness’, and whose twenty-fifth anniversary edition was prefaced by an admiring article by the best-selling Mormon, Stephen R. Covey, who insists that the principles are ‘natural laws’.
More deeply, concern has been expressed that embedding even the best of secular practices in the running of a church is an assault on the rights of the Lord Jesus to define how he wants the church to be run, by Scripture. This, too, is not new. It has been said that the oldest book explaining to a Christian leader how to apply the best of both secular and Christian thinking to his task is The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, who taught the fifteenth century Florentine rulers that Christianity was of no use in the public sphere, whatever good it may do in private, and different rules for leaders need to be sought. The family for whom the book was written, the Medici, later produced Popes.
So at this point we need to ask whether there is such a thing as ‘the gift of leadership’, and if so how it is to be recognized, developed and exercised in a biblical way.
1. Is there a ‘gift of leadership’? Romans 12:1-8
On the face of it there should not be much disagreement here: Paul lists a number of gifts in Romans 12, and in the context of testing of gifts and personal humility (v3), and his usual argument about the critical importance of the gifts and place of every member of the body (v4), he says that we must use those gifts to serve others, including the one who leads, with zeal (v8). Paul does not say over what this person leads, and that has led some to suggest that this person oversees the management of the generous donations of the previous person in the list, the one with the gift of generosity. But Paul does not use the word (proïstamenon) elsewhere with that financial meaning, and twice he explicitly uses the word of the church leadership (1 Thess. 5:12, 1 Tim. 5:17).
We do not yet know what leaders are to do, but we know that they are to do it with zeal, passion and commitment. This is a task that will call the best out of people, and constantly call them to take higher steps of faith in calling others to follow God’s will.
How do we identify the gift of leadership? Paul does not say, but common sense would suggest that a person with this gift is the person who makes things happen, and who can be trusted with demanding corporate tasks. But there is one more passage we need to explore before that will become clear.
2. Do pastors have the ‘gift of leadership’? 1 Timothy 3:1-7
We saw above that there is a general requirement for pastors to be mature Christians, and a specific requirement for them to be able to teach. Deep in the list of qualifications form 1 Timothy 3, though, is a second, intriguing qualification: 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? This is a verse that every pastor dreads children discovering, because it seems as though they can disqualify him by squabbling over the toast at breakfast. But a moment’s thought shows something else going on here.
The church in Ephesus, where Timothy is the pastor, is being disrupted by the presence of a particular kind of false teaching. The precise contours are not clear, although it some aspect of the way we are to read Old Testament Law (1 Tim. 1:6-7), but the consequence is evident in the lives of those who obey it. There is a curious and evil marriage between a world-denying asceticism (4:1-4), and a craving after material excess (6:9-10), both of which depend on a denial of the gospel. It is rooted in a love of endless debate, which Timothy is to avoid (6:20-21). But as Paul lays out his conversion story in chapter one, as an example of the correct use of the Law in convicting sin, he describes it as for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine (1:9-10).
So here is a false teaching which teachers disrespect for Timothy, the teacher, and the breaking of the moral code of the Old Testament, and that is precisely the issue in the household of the future pastor under consideration: are the children showing the kind of attitude and behaviour that show they have come under the influence of the False Teachers? And if so, what has this pastor done about it? Because if he cannot exercise discipline over this matter in his own household, there is no reason to expect him to be strong enough exercise it in the church. The issue in the family is the same issue as the one in the church: if the children have not been disciplined, neither will he church be.
The connection with Leadership is critical, though, because twice here Paul uses the word from Romans 12:8: He must manage (proïstamenon) his own household well, with all dignity, keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage (prostēnai) his own household, how will he care for God’s church?. Paul expects future pastors to display the leadership gift at home, to demonstrate their suitability for church leadership, where exactly the same gifts are required.
3. The ‘double gifting’ of the pastor
So here is the conclusion if we put Romans 12 alongside 1 Tim. 3. In Romans 12 Paul describes a series of gifts, including the gifts of those who teach and those who lead. It is not a requirement that anyone has either of those gifts, nor that if they have one they must have the other. There are people who are superb at organising a series of evangelistic talks who do cannot give those talks, and there are those who can be persuasive evangelists who cannot organise the rest of the team to make the events occur. Teaching and leadership are – like all gifts – separate, distinguishable and in the Body of Christ we need both.
But in 1 Tim. 3 Paul takes those two separate gifts and says that we need to find them in the same person, if that person is to be a pastor. Why? Because for the pastor they are intimately connected: from God’s word he can teach what truth is, show the error and call for repentance: the teaching gift; and when he considers with the other leaders what to do about the erring members: that is the leadership gift.
This is supported elsewhere. So Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders (a different Greek word: hēgoumenos), those who spoke the word of God to you; and a few verses later, Obey your leaders (hēgoumenos again) and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account (13:7) The pattern is the same, even where the language has changed: leading and teaching are the double tasks of the same people.
So if the passage to be preached in is Eph. 5:18: do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, both gifts will be needed. In the morning there is a sermon to be preached and changed lives to be called for; in the afternoon there is a private conversation with an individual who is struggling in the area of alcohol abuse, and in the evening there is an elders meeting where there will be discussion about setting up a support group for Christians who struggle with this issue, and who will run it, how it will be funded, how it will feed into existing patterns of growing disciples.
Leadership, then, is not to be exercised out of the sphere of the teaching gift, because it is an indispensable partner for the pastor/teacher, but nor is it to be collapsed into it, as if all pastors have to do is preach sermons. We can combine these two gifts and come up with a definition like this: Biblical Leadership is the application of God’s word to the structures of the church, so that there is corporate, as well as individual, obedience.
Because God’s word is the driving force of this idea of leadership, a faithful bible teacher will never let us rest with our current habits of idleness and sin; ‘together we can obey God’s word, and this is how we are going to do it.’
 See the enduring article, ‘Managers and Leaders: Are they different?’ by Abraham Zaleznik, in Harvard Business Review on Leadership (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, no date) pp61-88. The article was published in the Harvard Business Review in May-June 1977, and reprinted in March-April 1992.
 John P. Kotter, Leading Change (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996) p.175. For his thinking on how good organizations develop leaders, see his article ‘What Leaders Really Do’ in Harvard Business Review on Leadership (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, no date), pp37-60. The article was published in the Harvard Business Review in July-August 1975, won the McKinsey award for excellence and was reprinted in March-April 1990.
 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1995), pp8-9.
 Op. cit. p29.
 Op. cit. p12.
 James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Built to Last (London: Random House, 2000), p23 and p91ff.
 John W. Gardner, On Leadership (New York: The Free Press, 1990; paperback ed., 1993) p1.
 James MacGregor Burns, Leadership (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1978) p2.
 James MacGregor Burns, Transforming Leadership (London: Atlantic Books, 2003) p25.
 Op. cit. p29
 Gardner, op. cit. p69. This problem is not unique to Hitler, as recent biographies of both Stalin and Mao have shown. See Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2003); Jung Chang, Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (London: Jonathan Cape, 2005).
 The John Adair Handbook of Management and Leadership, ed. Neil Thomas (London: Thorogood, 2004), pp.120-121.
 Xenophon’s Anabasis is most accessible in Rex Warner’s translation for Penguin Classics, The Persian Expedition (London: Penguin; first edition 1949, reprinted 1972)
 Sun Tzu, The Art of War, translated by Roger T. Ames (New York: Ballantine Books 1993);Donald G. Krause, Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Executives (London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1996).
 John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993) p1. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus note over 850 definitions in Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge (New York: HarperCollins 1997) p4.
 Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Chicago: Moody Press, 1967; reprint ed., 1994) p31.
 Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1998) p203.
 Ref. in Courageous Leadership
 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner Christians Reflections on the Leadership Challenge (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2004)
 Ken Blanchard, Bill Hybels and Phil Hodges, Leadership by the Book: Tools to Transform your Workplace (London: HarperCollins, 1999)
 Op.cit. p.208.
 John Stott, Calling Christian Leaders (Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press, 2002) p9.
 Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness (Mahwah: Paulist Press, first pub. 1977; 25th anniversary edn. 2002) p3.
 Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, translated by George Bull (London: Penguin Books, 1961; revised edn. 2003)
 Rom 12:11; 2 Cor 7:11, 12, 8:7, 8, 16.