Becoming a good leader is something that most of us strive towards, but it doesn’t come easy — we have to work hard at. There are many great seminars and books about leadership, many from a corporate perspective, which can be very helpful.
But how can we become a good ‘biblical leader’? Thankfully, the Bible presents us with many verses we can study that provide us glints of how to become a better leader.
With that in mind, here are 61 Bible verses about leadership and brief explanations on how they relate to leadership:
1. Leaders are servants first.
“But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20:26
Jesus taught his disciples not to emulate the rulers of the Gentiles who exercised authority over them. Instead, He taught that in order for us to be leaders, we must become servants first. We must not conform to the status quo especially if it entails ruling through coercion and unjust deeds over our subordinates.
2. Fairness is a leader’s moral obligation.
“If a king judges the poor with truth, His throne will be established forever.”
A leader’s credibility is based on how he upholds truth and fairness over his organisation. This verse teaches us that honest and truthful leaders are appreciated and their legacy will be known long after their reign.
3. Leaders see strength in their followers.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Leaders are humble and do not boast. They are also encouraging of others, and do not belittle their followers just because of their lack of capacity on something. They see potential in the uniqueness of their followers.
4. Great leaders are tactful.
“A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.”
Great leaders know when to open their mouths. They know when to argue and whom to argue with. They realise that no good will come from engaging in heated arguments with people, and instead express themselves calmly and thoughtfully.
5. Good leaders are willing to take advice.
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
When leaders are ready and open to taking advice, their ideas become limitless. They can think of innovative ways to improve themselves and the company
6. Leaders uplift others and hear their constituents’ wishes.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Leaders do not look down on people and do not think highly of themselves. They prioritise the interest of the majority above all others. See our article about servant leadership for more on these ideas.
7. Great leaders delegate.
“A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.”
A good leader can tell when a person has potential to lead others or not. He delegates and rewards objectively based on people’s performance.
8. Honest leaders are rewarded.
“But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”
In today’s world where dishonesty is common among people in political positions, a good leader stands out because he upholds a high standard. He knows the consequences to his character of being unfair and dishonest, and is rewarded immensely for doing the right thing.
9. Leaders must be trainable.
“But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.”
Leaders are open-minded. They do not resist being trained even if that means being taught by someone lower in position than them.
10. Leaders take pride in their work.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.”
No matter how difficult or how easy a task is, good leaders do the best they can to ensure that quality results are achieved.
11. Leaders must know the scope of their responsibility.
“…..from everyone who has been given much shall much be required……”
Leaders do not just act blindly. They perform based on the scope of their responsibility and more often than not, they realize how big a role they have in any organization.
12. Leaders have a ‘word of honor’.
“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Word of honor equates to fairness when leading people. Good leaders know the impact of the decisions they make so when it comes to decision making, they have to think hard and be firm.
13. Leaders have exceptional qualities that others aim to have.
“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,”
1 Timothy 3:2
Leaders inspire their followers to be like them. As such, they have to possess certain qualities that will make them stand out from the crowd: charisma, confidence, self-control.
14. Age is irrelevant to good leadership.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12
Some young aspiring leaders may be discriminated upon because of their age. However, the adage “age is only a number” is also applicable to leadership. Just because someone is young and looks inexperienced does not mean he is not a good leader.
15. Good leaders are careful of their actions.
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
Leaders are wary of their actions, for they know the influence they have over people. Positive actions are contagious, but so are negative ones. If leaders act with integrity, then their subordinates will follow.
16. Leaders do not listen to hearsay.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.”
2 Timothy 2:15-16
Corporate backstabbing and gossips are common in some workplaces. If leaders allow such practices by listening and taking part, then it will only strengthen this negative culture.
17. Leaders are patient with everyone regardless of their capabilities.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14
Leaders are passionate about lifting people up in their organization. They realise the importance of getting everyone on board the same vision so they work to achieve the same goal.
18. Leaders are skillful.
“So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands.”
Leaders are masters of their trade. They know the in’s and out’s of the business they are in. They perform their responsibilities passionately because they have often spent their time ‘in the trenches’.
19. Leaders are admired and imitated.
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
Leaders leave a lasting mark that people remember. Good leaders are celebrated and imitated, while bad leaders are remembered for the pain they’ve caused.
20. Leaders are careful about what they say.
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, Keeps his soul from troubles.”
Leaders are effective communicators. They know that words can make or break people so they think carefully before they speak.
21. Leaders have to be more than willing to lead.
“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; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
1 Peter 5:2-4
A leader who is willing is bound to do great things. Leaders who are willing to take the added responsibility have the most potential to grow.
22. Leaders lead with passion.
“The one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Passion drives people to do imaginative (and inventive) things. Passionate leaders tend to perform better because they realise the impact this has in moving people and businesses towards achieving their goals.
23. Leaders are respected if they respect others.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
Everyone yearns for respect but most often than not, it is earned. If leaders know how to show respect to their employees by not looking so arrogant in their endeavors and by genuinely caring for others, then they can be respected and will be remembered for a long time.
24. Unity is a common goal both leaders and followers should strive for.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
When an organisation is united towards one goal, all good things will follow. A leader’s purpose is just that: to unify their subordinates so that goals can be achieved.
25. Leaders reciprocate good deeds.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Leaders know how and when to use rewards. When they spot an employee performing well, they don’t have second thoughts about rewarding them, be it with a promotion or incentive bonus, etc.
26. Leaders choose their battles.
“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.”
Wise leaders do not just engage in meaningless arguments, or with people who don’t listen. They pick their fights, and when they do, they usually come out triumphant.
27. Leaders look after their subordinates.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
True leaders take care to look after their followers. They are humble enough to reach out to the concerns of other people.
28. Leaders act with integrity.
“It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness.”
Leaders who follow what is right and just are rewarded and uplifted. When leaders act with integrity, they are known for sticking to what they believe in and this helps in building a respectable reputation as a leader.
29. Leaders are steadfast.
“But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
They are strong and are unfazed in the face of adversaries and challenges. They do not worry because they know what they are capable of doing.
30. Leaders learn from the example of others.
“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.”
Leading by example is one thing, but learning from the example of others is another. Leaders are not perfect, and they must also learn from others.
31. Leaders hold themselves to the highest standard.
“Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time–for strength and not for drunkenness.”
It may be difficult for leaders to always do the right thing but it is imperative that they do for a lot of people look up to them.
32. Leaders are fearless.
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Great leaders know what they are capable of doing and when they do, and believe they are able to conquer whatever challenge they face.
33. Leaders seek spiritual counsel.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Leaders don’t just rely on themselves. They are faithful and they realise the power of a higher being that keeps their feet grounded.
34. Leaders are judged with strictness.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
When someone is in position, people would always try to find wrong in their actions. Leaders must be prepared to face criticisms of their character and actions.
35. Great leaders are celebrated.
“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.”
People are satisfied when they are led by a fair and just leader. In contrary, people complain when their leaders are unjust.
36. Leaders are thankful.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Leaders know how not to take all credit for themselves. They are grateful for the contributions made by their team.
37. Leaders are hopeful.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Leaders do not give up. They anticipate positive results, and troubleshoot when things don’t go exactly as planned.
38. Bribery does no good in any organisation.
“The king establishes the land by justice, But he who receives bribes overthrows it.”
Leaders who accept bribes and act dishonestly to gain status, money and power will ultimately lose. Doing so only derails any well-meaning organisation from their goals.
39. Correction is part of good leadership.
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.”
Leaders would not be where they are if in the process they didn’t learn from feedback. They know that with accepting criticism leads to growth, and they are not bothered at all when they are called out for something.
40. Leaders concern themselves with the well-being of their subordinates.
“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds;”
Checking out how their employees are doing at work and giving advices if necessary and solicited are what good leaders do. They do not just let their subordinates do their job, they are genuinely concerned about their wellbeing.
41. Leaders accept challenges.
“If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.”
When challenged, leaders do not falter. They face hurdles and they are not easily disheartened if something does not go their way.
42. Leaders are social people.
“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.”
Leaders cannot live in isolation. When needed, they seek the help of other people. Leaders know the value of other people’s opinions.
43. Leaders let the Spirit do the work.
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Leaders who take it slow and let their faith do the work are better than those who do not. Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control. When this happens, leaders know there are sometimes benefits to waiting it out and giving up control for the time being.
44. Leaders look up to those who led before them.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
1 Timothy 5:17
Past leaders deserve to be regarded highly for they possess wisdom that has been earned through experience. Great leaders realise this and look up to their elders.
45. Leaders lead by example.
“Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
In order to lead and inspire others towards the same goal, leaders must practice the same. They have to be self-controlled so that their followers will be too. They have to embody the attributes they hope their followers will emulate.
46. Leaders need prayers, too.
“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. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2
Leaders are humans, too. They can fall prey to the world’s sinful practices. As such, they would need the guidance and prayers of their followers so that they may continue to work with integrity.
47. Leaders are humble like Moses.
“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
Moses was a humble man and because of his humility he did marvelous work. Leaders would do well to exercise humility and follow the example of Moses.
48. Leaders do not take everything to heart.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Leaders are careful about what they harbor in their hearts. If they only take in positivity, then their lives will be positive. The opposite is also true.
49. Leaders should carefully consider their values.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
This verse talks about earthly treasures versus heavenly treasures. Great leaders don’t see everything with a price tag; they also consider other things (commitment, trust, hard work) as having high value.
50. Leaders are generous.
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27
If there is a chance for leaders to reward their employees, they do so willingly. They know the value of their followers and they reward hard work and commitment.
51. Persevering leaders are rewarded.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
In any worthwhile endeavour, perseverance and hard work matter. Leaders are rewarded for their commitment to their goals.
52. Leaders invest in their skills.
“Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.”
Leaders are not satisfied with what they know, but are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves through training and further education.
53. Lead with integrity and gain respect.
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”
People who live with integrity are faultless. Leaders who lead with integrity act based on what they know is right. And because they do, they are respected and incorruptible.
54. Leaders work towards their goals.
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. “
2 Timothy 2:3-4
Leaders do as they say. They aim to achieve their mission by doing. They are laser-focused and they do not deviate from their objectives.
55. Leaders serve for the good of many.
“…even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”
1 Corinthians 10:33
Leaders are able to discern what is the best for their followers. They are not easily bribed or persuaded by the benefit of the few over the majority.
56. Unjust leaders never succeed.
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord.
Leaders who are unjust bring nothing but failure to an organization. In the end, they often achieve nothing and cause divides among their followers.
57. Leaders stand up for others.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9
Great leaders are always by the side of those who need them, especially those who cannot fight for themselves. They unbiased and they fight against injustice.
58. Great leaders are promoted.
“Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”
Not all leaders are honored and promoted; those who have made a mark are. Integrity, the ability to achieve one’s goals, and going above and beyond what is required are some of the qualities leaders should strive for if they want to be respected and esteemed.
59. Leaders do not stop doing what is right.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
Leaders do not deviate from their goals. They have their eyes fixed to doing what is good and just.
60. Leaders quickly recover from defeat.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
When leaders fail, they do not harbor grief. Instead, they stand back up and charge the failure to experience.
61. Leading without a goal is leading blindly.
“He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?””
Leaders who have no idea what to do are leading their employees to failure. Leaders are focused on a clear path to take to achieve their goal.
There you have it: 61 bible verses on leadership. Do you have a favorite? Let us know in the comments below!