5 young leaders around a table with open Bibles discussing principles


Being a leader does not just refer to those in so-called leadership positions. We all are leaders in some way—a mother leading her kids, a father leading his family, a teacher leading her class, a captain leading his sports team, a volunteer organizing an event, a mentor guiding his mentee, etcetera. No matter where we lead and in which form, following Biblical leadership principles will make our leadership effective.

While there are countless leadership theories and strategies, we can find a timeless source of wisdom and guidance for leadership in the Bible. Biblical leadership principles provide a solid foundation for any leader to make wise decisions, inspire others, and bring about positive change for the benefit of others.

These principles can help you navigate the challenges of leadership with integrity, humility, and wisdom. They form the biblical foundation of leadership. By looking at Paul on leadership and Biblical examples of good leaders in the Bible, we will learn much about the qualities of a servant leader in the bible.

In this blog, we will explore the key principles of leadership in the Scriptures. These Biblical principles have stood the test of time and continue to be relevant in today’s world and in contemporary organizations. We will also study the ultimate example: Jesus servant leadership examples.

Read on and get inspired & transformed by the timeless biblical principles for effective leadership, and become a servant leader yourself.

What are the Biblical standards for leadership?

The Bible provides us with a clear framework for leadership, outlining the standards and qualities that good leaders should possess. These standards are not based on worldly principles, but on God’s wisdom and guidance.

The Word of God is full of leadership principles that we can apply, whether in spiritual leadership, organizational leadership, social leadership, or within our families. When we apply the leadership skills of the Bible in our lives, we will be effective and become a role model for others.

Here are the biblical standards for leadership that we can apply to become great leaders:

  • Servant leadership. Being a servant leader is the key principle. Christ Jesus himself showed this when He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). Leaders are called to serve others, putting their needs above their own and leading with humility and compassion.
  • Having a clear vision. Leaders should have a clear direction and purpose, and be able to communicate this vision to their followers. This helps to inspire and motivate others to work towards a common goal. This is so for organizations as well as for our families! Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
  • Courage. Throughout the scriptures, we see many examples of leaders who displayed courage in the face of adversity. Moses confronted Pharaoh, David faced Goliath, and Esther risked her life to save her people. Leaders must be willing to take risks, stand up for what is right, and lead with conviction.
  • Integrity. Leaders should be honest, trustworthy, and have strong moral character. They should lead by example and make decisions that are in line with biblical principles. Proverbs 11:3 states, “The integrity of the upright guides them.”
  • Humility. Jesus Christ demonstrated this when he washed his disciples’ feet and said, “Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:44). Leaders should not seek power or recognition for themselves, but should humbly serve others and acknowledge that their leadership is ultimately a responsibility given to them by God.

These are the most important biblical standards for leadership. By studying the examples of leaders in the Bible and applying these principles to our own lives, we can become effective leaders who honor God, serve others selflessly, and make a positive impact in the world.

What did Paul say about leadership in the Bible?

The apostle Paul shared valuable insights about leadership in his letters to various churches and individuals. He emphasized the importance of servant leadership and the qualities that good leaders should have.

Paul encourages believers to have a humble and selfless attitude towards others:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3-4

The apostle Paul also highlighted the importance of integrity and moral character in leadership. He outlines the qualifications for overseers (leaders) in the church, stating that they should be:

“above reproach, faithful to their spouse, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

1 Timothy 3:2-3

And he stressed the need for leaders to lead by example and be accountable. Paul understood that leaders have a responsibility to model Christ-like behavior and to guide others in their faith journey:

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1

Paul’s instructions emphasize the importance of servant leadership, integrity, humility, and accountability in leadership. Paul teaches much on the biblical worldview of leadership. His teachings serve as a timeless guide for leaders in any context, providing valuable wisdom and principles for effective and impactful leadership.

What are the 8 leadership principles from 1 Timothy?

Paul’s letter to Timothy has many valuable insights on Christian leadership. In 1 Timothy, there are eight leadership principles outlined by the apostle Paul. These principles serve as a guide for leaders and can be applied to leadership in various contexts and in any leadership role.

The 8 leadership principles from 1 Timothy:

  1. Faithfulness and Trustworthiness (be above reproach): Leaders are expected to be faithful to God and trustworthy in their actions and words. Reference: 1 Timothy 3:2 – “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.”
  2. Teaching Sound Doctrine: Leaders should be well-versed in and committed to teaching sound, biblical doctrine. Reference: 1 Timothy 4:6 – “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.”
  3. Prayer and Intercession: Leaders are encouraged to engage in prayer and intercession for those under their care. Reference: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
  4. Modeling Christlike Behavior: Leaders should serve as examples of Christlike behavior in their actions, attitudes, and character. Reference: 1 Timothy 4:12 – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
  5. Avoiding False Teaching: Leaders are called to guard against false doctrines and teachings that could lead people astray. Reference: 1 Timothy 1:3-4 – “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.”
  6. Maintaining Good Order: There is an emphasis on maintaining order and discipline, and leaders play a role in this. Reference: 1 Timothy 3:4-5 – “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.” (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?).
  7. Compassion and Gentleness: Leaders are encouraged to lead with compassion and gentleness, caring for the well-being of those in their charge. Reference: 1 Timothy 3:3 – “not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”
  8. Avoiding the Love of Money: There is a warning against the love of money, and leaders are advised to avoid greed and pursue contentment. This also includes we shouldn’t lead just for financial gain. Reference: 1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

These 1 Timothy leadership qualifications stress the importance of character, integrity, and a servant-hearted mindset in leadership. By using these principles, we can create a positive and impactful influence on those we lead.

Now, the above may mostly be written for church leaders, but it applies to every situation. We can apply each of those biblically-based leadership principles in our daily lives. Following the 8 leadership principles is the right thing to do in our Christian life. It will equip us with sound leadership and authentic leadership, exactly as Jesus Christ would want us to have.

You can apply each of the biblical standards for leadership to your personal life, at home, at work, at church, in the supermarket, at school, in small group settings, etcetera. In every situation, we should be excellent role models, leading others to exhibit good behavior. We can call that practical theology. You know, God’s Word is not meant to be read-only, we need to apply it in our personal lives.

We also need to acknowledge that we ourselves wouldn’t be able to keep those principles. We need the Holy Spirit—we need God. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can we be a faithful servant.

What are the qualities of a good leader in the Bible?

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True leaders, no matter the setting, follow the call of God on their lives and follow God’s purposes for their leadership.

If you want to be a godly leader, you can start by learning from others. The Word of Truth says we have a cloud of witnesses that we can learn from. Looking at their examples will inspire and strengthen us to be a strong leader ourselves. One of the most important things to do is to keep Christ Jesus as our number one example!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

We can learn from the leadership style of godly leaders of the Bible. And we can learn from Christian leadership literature, such as of Stuart W. Boyer, who writes about Christian faith perspectives in leadership and business.

The leadership qualities of a good leader in the Bible include:

  1. Humility: A good leader recognizes their limitations and submits to God’s authority. Examples include Moses, who despite being a great leader, always acknowledged his dependence on God (Exodus 3-4). Moses was one of the most meek leaders in history.
  2. Wisdom: A good leader seeks wisdom from God and applies it in their decision-making. King Solomon is known for his wisdom and discernment, as seen for example in his judgment of the two women claiming to be the mother of a child (1 Kings 3:16-28).
  3. Courage: A good leader displays courage and boldness in the face of challenges. Joshua demonstrated courage when leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, as he trusted in God’s promises and led the people with confidence (Joshua 1:9).
  4. Servanthood: A good leader serves others selflessly, prioritizing the needs of those they lead. Jesus, the son of man, is the ultimate example of a servant leader, as He humbly washed the disciples’ feet and gave His life for humanity (John 13:1-17).
  5. Integrity: A good leader shows integrity by living a life of honesty, moral uprightness, and consistency. Joseph in the Old Testament is an example of a leader who maintained his integrity even in the face of temptation and hardship (Genesis 39).
  6. Vision: A good leader has a clear vision and inspires others to work towards a common goal. Nehemiah exemplifies this quality as he led the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, rallying the people to overcome obstacles and accomplish the task (Nehemiah 2-6).
  7. Empathy: A good leader shows empathy and compassion towards others, understanding their needs and providing support. Jesus regularly displayed empathy towards those he encountered, such as healing the sick and comforting the grieving (Matthew 14:14, Luke 7:13).
  8. Accountability: A good leader takes responsibility for their actions and holds themselves and others accountable. King David, despite his flaws, demonstrated accountability when confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).
  9. Empowerment of Others: Jethro advised Moses to delegate responsibilities and empower capable leaders, promoting efficiency and shared leadership.

These qualities of a good leader serve as a guide if you seek to lead with biblical principles and make a positive impact.

Whether you are an executive leader, a pastor in your local church, a board member of a company, a father of a small family, a leader in your church’s women’s ministry, or a volunteer at your kid’s sports team, no matter your leadership position, you will get the greatest success in leadership when you apply the Biblical leadership principles to every situation you meet. It will truly grant you the heart of a leader.

What is an example of servant leadership in the Bible?

What does the Bible say about servant leadership? Often, biblical leadership is referred to as servant leadership. Servant leadership, as described in the Bible, is a leadership philosophy that emphasizes humility, service to others, and a focus on meeting the needs of those being led.

If you want to truly understand what is servant leadership in the Bible, we need to look at the root of the concept of servant leadership: in the New Testament, in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Jesus leadership model’ is that of a servant. Despite being the ultimate authority, He showed a servant’s heart.

In all the interactions with Jesus’s disciples and others, He showcased servant leadership. And He taught others to be the same. One of the main leadership lessons of Jesus is in Matthew 20:26 (NLT):

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”

This may sound like a contradiction -a leader being a servant- as in our leadership concept we may think of authoritative and even bossy leadership. But Christ Jesus taught that sound leadership isn’t about being the boss, it’s about serving others.

Jesus’ example of servant leadership

The ultimate example of servant leadership is in the Gospel of John, where Jesus took the position of a servant and washed the feet of his disciples. This symbolizes Jesus’ willingness to serve others and shows the importance of humility, service to others, and selflessness in leadership.

Jesus, the son of God, washed people’s feet! If He did that, then what about us?

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

John 13:14-15 (ESV)

Jesus takes on the role of a servant and performs a task typically reserved for the lowest servant in a household. Despite being the Son of God, Jesus willingly stoops down to wash the feet of his disciples, showing them the true essence of servant leadership.

This act of servant leadership is significant because it challenges the traditional mindset of leadership, which usually includes using authority and seeking personal gain. Jesus shows a different approach by serving others and putting their needs first.

Other examples of servant leaders in the Bible

The Bible gives many other examples of servant leadership, both in the Old and the New Testament. Biblical leaders showed servant leadership through their actions, humility, and dedication.

Here are the examples of servant leaders in the Bible.

Old Testament examples of servant leaders:

  • Moses: Moses is one of the greatest leaders in the Old Testament. He demonstrated servant leadership in his role as a mediator between God and the Israelites. He interceded for the people, bore their burdens, and put their needs above his own (Exodus 32:30-32; Numbers 11:10-15). He was meek at heart.
  • David: King David exhibited servant leadership qualities. He cared for his people, expressed humility in seeking God’s guidance, and prioritized the well-being of the nation (1 Samuel 16:11-13; 2 Samuel 5:2-3).
  • Esther: Esther, the Jewish queen, personifies servant leadership through her humility, courageous advocacy for her people, and strategic decision-making. Willing to risk her life, Esther serves the greater good, embodying sacrificial leadership. (Esther 4:8-16; Esther 5-8).
  • Ruth: Ruth showed servant leadership through her commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi. Her selfless actions, hard work, and loyalty exemplify the qualities of a servant leader (Ruth 1-4).
  • Joseph: Despite facing betrayal and hardship, Joseph demonstrated servant leadership in Egypt by faithfully serving Potiphar and later as a responsible leader during the famine (Genesis 39-41).
  • Deborah: Deborah, a prophetess and judge in Israel, led with wisdom and humility, exemplifying servant leadership in her role of guiding the nation (Judges 4-5).
  • Gideon: Gideon, chosen by God to lead Israel against the Midianites, demonstrated servant leadership by seeking confirmation from God and acknowledging his own weaknesses (Judges 6-8).
  • Nehemiah: Nehemiah, serving as a cupbearer to the king, displayed servant leadership in his commitment to rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and addressing the needs of the people (Nehemiah 1-6).
  • Daniel: Daniel showed servant leadership through his commitment to God, humility, and dedication to serving various rulers. Despite facing challenges, Daniel’s integrity and servant’s heart shine in his service to both God and earthly authorities. (Daniel 1-6).

New Testament examples of servant leaders:

  • John the Baptist: John the Baptist embraced a servant’s role in preparing the way for Jesus. He humbly acknowledged that he must decrease while Christ increased, highlighting a selfless commitment to the greater purpose (John 3:30).
  • Paul the Apostle: The apostle Paul exemplified servant leadership throughout his ministry. Despite facing many challenges, he tirelessly served and empowered others, considering himself a servant of Christ and others (Philippians 2:5-8; 2 Corinthians 4:5).
  • Barnabas: Barnabas, a companion of Paul, demonstrated servant leadership by encouraging and supporting others, such as Mark and Paul, in their ministries (Acts 4:36-37; Acts 9:26-28; Acts 11:22-26).
  • Timothy: Timothy, a disciple and friend of the apostle Paul, is commended for his servant-hearted leadership. Paul speaks highly of Timothy’s genuine concern for others and willingness to serve the needs of the church (Philippians 2:19-22).
  • Phoebe: Paul describes Phoebe as a servant of the church in Cenchreae. Her role in delivering Paul’s letter to the Romans underscores her dedication to serving the Christian community (Romans 16:1-2).
  • Ananias: Ananias, in the book of Acts, displayed servant leadership by courageously and obediently responding to God’s call to go and minister to Saul (Acts 9:10-18).
  • Priscilla and Aquila: This husband-and-wife team, Priscilla and Aquila, demonstrated servant leadership by mentoring and guiding Apollos in the ways of God (Acts 18:24-28).
  • Epaphroditus: Epaphroditus, a fellow worker with Paul, exhibited servant leadership by risking his life for the sake of the Gospel and serving Paul during his imprisonment (Philippians 2:25-30).

Prayer for biblical servant leadership

Lord, thank You for being a servant leader, not a bossy leader. Thank You for giving Your life for us, so that we can live forever. Help us live our lives according to Your will.

Holy Spirit, we invite you into our everyday lives. Guide us. Teach us. Show us how to lead others. Help us see leadership as You see it. Help us apply biblical leadership principles whenever we lead others. We know you can do it and we are willing to obey. We are grateful for your love and guidance.

Help us serve truly as you did. Let us be true servant leaders. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.