Integrity in Leadership

When no political party won a majority at the elections in Australia we were held in suspense for 17 days as to who would govern Australia. Just two people determined which major party would form government! We were  left wondering whose agenda would be given priority? Which moral issues would come to the fore? Morally the result was not heartening.

The influence of leaders is far reaching. The repercussions of decisions may last for generations. For example, the decision to establish Australia as a penal colony in the 1800s has resulted in Ned Kelly often being portrayed as a hero rather than as a villain.

Timothy, a leader in the church at Ephesus, is confronted with all sorts of dilemmas, both personal and within the church. Some of these problems no doubt tempted him to ask: "What's the point in persevering?" Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy that spiritual victories are not attained overnight. There are no "quick fix" solutions. The need to have the resilience of a soldier, the patience of a farmer and the ability not to get bogged down with and entangled in civilian affairs are foundational for any spiritual leader.

But there are voices that clamour to be heard insisting that a spiritual leader do this or that. Leaders are to avoid like the plague "quarrels about words, foolish and ignorant disputes" and "shun foolish and ignorant talk" (cf 2 Timothy 2:14-18, 23). Yet at the same time Christian leaders are to be even tempered people, being gentle in approach, with the ability to teach the Bible, having a humble disposition (2 Timothy 2:23-25).

In reflecting on today's leadership in Canberra, Australia, and in the church, how many of the characteristics given in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 are true of our leaders? Lovers of themselves? Lovers of money? Proud? Headstrong? Despisers of what is good/righteous? Unthankful? Unholy? People of corrupt minds? Never coming to the knowledge of the truth? What advice does the Bible give? "Have nothing to do with such people" (2 Timothy 3:5).

Spiritual leaders are to be of a different ilk. They cannot take as their cue secular models of leadership. The so called "world's best leadership practice" is not based on or molded by the Bible. God insists that doctrine (my belief system), way of life/life style (who I am in private), my aims/purpose for being, personal faith in the Lord Jesus, endurance, ability not to surrender despite persecution (2 Timothy 3:10-11) are to be the hallmarks of spiritual leaders.

The question is: "To what degree are these characteristics true of you and me?"

Dr Keith Graham

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