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Transformational Leadership In the Old Testament

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Biblical Leadership - Old Testament

What is leadership and why is it important? The book Biblical Leadership: Theology for the Everyday Leader mentioned that leadership is created when one is consumed and forged by the “flames of fear.” [1]The adventures, and misfortunes, of Israel, occurred with a kingdom that was plagued by division. There were many times when leadership was subpar, or absent. And this further fanned the flames of fear, war, and ongoing threats. Currently, Judah and Israel were no longer one nation. Their response to God forever shaped the nation’s history.[2]

"Leadership is, and will always be, one of the most significant keys of the Kingdom of God.” [3] As a church begins to take root, it is expected that the leadership experiences growth as well. By the time the New Testament was coming to pass, there was an expectation that a healthy river of God-fearing, respectable, equipped leaders would be ready to carry on the World of God. Because the Church is an organic, changing organism, Leadership must reflect this. However, many things have remained the same over time. There are aspects of Leadership that have remained timeless, as can be seen in this scripture: "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 the fifties, and tens."[4]

In the Bible, there is a common theme of transformational leadership. This is a leadership style that is utilized to have a transformative impact on the community through increased motivation and the overall moral compass. The mission because the sole focus of the leader and they work towards inspiring others to reach their full potential. The effects of effective, transformational leadership can have a lasting impact. Transformation leadership can be obtained through "training, education, and professional development in key leadership competencies. This kind of leadership creates a positive chain reaction, as highlighted in the leader's response to "intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration" to encourage and motivate others. [5]The essence of this kind of leadership is that it is almost completely selfless, while the focus is on the good of the community as it heads towards a common, positive goal. In today's world, a leader who is a Christian would be a pastor that motivates the choir of a church to use different methods to improve or present their songs. In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, an example of a transformational leader would be Abraham. [6]Abraham created a vision, had an abundance of charisma, and he believed in justice.

Abraham was an amazingly simple man, and he was the chief of a clan that held their belief and faith in one God. Abraham left everything he knew behind in Ur of the Chaldees, to become the father of many nations, as seen in Genesis 17:5 when God said, "No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” [7] God wanted Abraham to keep his Covenants for all the generations to come. Abraham, through his leadership, was able to destroy the pagan system and planted and watered the seeds for three major religions, which are Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Today's society is still influenced by Abraham's vision, charisma, and sense of truth and justice.

Another theme regarding leadership in the Old Testament was charisma. In the Bible, many leaders had full charisma, while others were lackluster, personality-wise, in comparison. Abraham's charisma was essential to fulfilling God's mission. The Greek word for charisma is 'kharisma'. Kharisma means 'gift of grace', or 'favor freely given'. [8]Charisma is defined as a 'compelling attractiveness that inspires devotion in others. " [9]In opposition to tyranny or dictatorship, charisma ends up becoming a model of behaviors that are considered desired. A charismatic person becomes someone that everyone wants to emulate and become like. Abraham's charisma was strengthened with God's promise that can be found in Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all people on earth will be blessed through you." [10]Abraham was so charismatic, and ultimately successful in his endeavors, that he has become someone that Christian leaders want to become like, even four thousand years later. Even the Hittites considered Abraham as God's prince. [11]

Leadership in the Pentateuch focuses on the creation of a plan, a vision, or mental blueprint, for an event that will have a wide-scale impact on a group of people. Genesis began as it explained the process of Creation. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and the cattle, and over all the earth…” [12]God defined a purpose for humanity to ultimately, has His divine will be fulfilled. Abraham also had a vision of monotheism and helping those who needed aid the most. He was a true visionary in that he wanted to believe in the only God in a world where pagan values were held in high regard. With the grove, he planted in Genesis 21:33 he created a plan with a purpose: he wanted to give travelers a bit of hospitality so that they believe in one true God could spread through the Earth. [13]Most strategic planning was seen in the Old Testament aside from Abraham. Moses used vision and strategic planning to send spies to the Canaan territory. [14]David defeated Goliath by using the giant’s weakness against him. [15]David also used men that were culled from the larger group to achieve a higher mission. [16]In all these visions and strategic planning, one can easily see how the methods and inspiration behind the methods used differed greatly from secular planning. If God is not in the middle, it is going to fail. In the end, plans must be God-centered.

There was a strong sense of justice when it came to leaders in the Old Testament. An example of this was, again, Abraham. He was hospitable towards strangers. He selflessly tithed and gave away his possessions in Genesis 14:20. [17]Abraham acted as a welcoming hosting, offering milk, curds, and bread to strangers in the Bible, even though he was an older man, as mentioned in Genesis 18. [18] Justice was shown in Nehemiah 2:17: Nehemiah, without fear, was able to motivate others to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.[19] In order to this this, he had to show a previously mentioned trait, which was being able to have a vision, or a blueprint, or the plan that he wanted to push to fruition. He not only created a plan, but carefully shared it and assured those who were to be part of it that God was with them during everything.

Ultimately, leadership serves and influences others through the interests that are inspired by Christ. True leaderships lead others in a way that motivates them to live for Christ and fulfill his Divine purpose for humanity and individually. Leadership that has Christian motivations does not have its roots within the world’s standards, which are considered completely subpar in relation to God’s standards. In many nations today, it is seen that leaders try to overpower others, oppress them, and silence them into a false submission. The authority is not lead by Christ or his teachings, but rather, inspired by indifference to others and pure selfishness. Among the many leadership traits that the Old Testament exemplified, the ones that were extremely full of positive impact were charisma, a vision, and a strengthened sense of justice. Earlier, Nehemiah was mentioned. He did not exploit his people in order to accomplish a mission. He did not manipulate his people in order to get his people to move toward a common goal. He did not use his personal goals or gains as the sole motivation for which to climb the success echelon. God, a higher purpose was his motivation, and ultimately, his success.

References:

“‘(Y)Our Father(S)’ in the Greek New Testament.” The Bible Translator 41, no. 1 (January 1990): 135–38. https://doi.org/10.1177/026009359004100105.

Aland, Barbara, Kurt Aland, KaravidopoulosIōan D, Carlo Maria Martini, Bruce M Metzger. The Greek New Testament. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, American Bible Society, United Bible Societies, 2016.

Barker, Kenneth L. NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan Pub. House, 2011.

Bible, Cambridge. HOLY BIBLE: Kjv Turquoise Reference Bible, Black Calf Split Leather, Red-Letter Text, Kj674., 2018.

Forrest, Benjamin, and Chet Roden. Biblical Leadership: Theology for the Everyday Leader. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Academic, 2017.

Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: King James Version. New York: American Bible Society, 2010.

Holy Bible: NIV: New International Version. Durbanville: Christian Media Bibles, 2016.

Kim, Daniel J. “Prophetic Authority: A Biblical Paradigm of Spiritual Leadership.” ACTS Theological Journal 25 (October 30, 2015): 41–93. https://doi.org/10.19114/atj.25.2.

MURPHY, LORRAINE. “Transformational Leadership: A Cascading Chain Reaction.” Journal of Nursing Management 13, no. 2 (March 2005): 128–36.

“Old Heroes: The Hittites of the Bible. J. N. Fradenburgh.” The Old and New Testament Student 9, no. 6 (December 1889): 380–80. https://doi.org/10.1086/470368.

Thomas Nelson Publishers. King James Study Bible: King James Version, Chestnut. Thomas Nelson, 2011.

Tyndale. Holy Bible: Inspire Bible Nlt. Tyndale House Publishers, 2016.


[1] Benjamin Forrest and Chet Roden, Biblical Leadership: Theology for the Everyday Leader (2017).

[2] Benjamin Forrest and Chet Roden, Biblical Leadership (2017).

[3] LORRAINE MURPHY, “Transformational Leadership: A Cascading Chain Reaction,” Journal of Nursing Management 13, no. 2 (March 2005): 128–36, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2934.2005. 00458.x.

[4] Kenneth L Barker, NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan Pub. House, 2011).

[5] Daniel J. Kim, “Prophetic Authority: A Biblical Paradigm of Spiritual Leadership,” ACTS Theological Journal 25 (October 30, 2015): 41–93, https://doi.org

[6] Cambridge Bible, HOLY BIBLE: Kjv Turquoise Reference Bible, Black Calf Split Leather, Red-Letter Text, Kj674., 2018.

[7] Holy Bible: NIV: New International Version. (Durbanville: Christian Media Bibles, 2016).

[8] Barbara Aland et al., The Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, American Bible Society, United Bible Societies, 2016).

[9] “‘(Y)Our Father(S)’ in the Greek New Testament,” The Bible Translator 41, no. 1 (January 1990): 135–38

[10] Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: King James Version. (New York: American Bible Society, 2010).

[11] “Old Heroes: The Hittites of the Bible. J. N. Fradenburgh,” The Old and New Testament Student 9, no. 6 (December 1889): 380–80, https://doi.org/10.1086/470368.

[12] Holy Bible: NIV: New International Version. (Durbanville: Christian Media Bibles, 2016).

[13] Thomas Nelson Publishers, King James Study Bible: King James Version, Chestnut (Thomas Nelson, 2011).

[14] Tyndale, Holy Bible: Inspire Bible Nlt. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).

[15] Tyndale, Holy Bible: Inspire Bible Nlt. (2016).

[16] Tyndale (2016).

[17] Thomas Nelson Publishers, King James Study Bible: King James Version, Chestnut (2011).

[18] Thomas Nelson Publishers (2011).

[19] Daniel J. Kim, “Prophetic Authority: A Biblical Paradigm of Spiritual Leadership,”

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reformed Eve

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