The Bible on Leadership: 7 Verses About the Work and Requirements of Leadership


My shelves are full of leadership books. I teach in a Ph.D. leadership program so the stacks of books I have read on leadership should come as no surprise! But what I’ve discovered in all my reading is that the Bible is the best leadership resource.

And you must agree! You are reading this post because you too believe the Bible is the best place to discover leadership principles! So, I’ve begun a list of Scripture passages about leadership that I hope will encourage you, inspire you, and, hopefully, challenge you to lead well, wherever God has placed you.

This is not one of those posts that just gives you a list of texts. Since this entry is the first of a few articles on leadership, I’ll begin with a focus on key leadership themes. In this post, the verses will focus on a leader’s work and requirements.

Most of us are moving through life quickly. We all know that in the age of 240-characters via Twitter, or Facebook Reels, or Instagram stories that information comes in short bursts. Folks like get-to-the-point, ideas. So, for each leadership ideal, a brief commentary is included for the sake of context and explanation.

Scripture operates as a building’s cement footers for a leader’s stability; my brief commentary acts as the frame in which the cement is poured. Each Bible passage is one base supporting the Bible’s leadership foundation. My commentary is but a setup for the important work and needs of leaders.

I encourage you to allow the verses below to give strength for your leadership opportunities.

Verses about a Leader’s Work

What exactly is a leader’s task from the Bible’s point of view? The list you find here is by no means exhaustive but includes some of the jobs of a leader we see highlighted in Biblical examples. And notice that these tasks are ongoing (the “-ing” ending) for your current context.

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. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter because they will share it with you. Exodus 18:21-22 (NIV)

A first work of leadership is peacemakingThese words are spoken by Moses’ father-in-law, who is giving him some advice about how to carry on his labor. In any group of people there will be conflict and part of the work of a leader is to help bring resolution to these conflicts.

When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, ‘This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.’ Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand. 1 Samuel 11:6-8 (NIV)

A second work of leadership is protecting. Leaders have enemies; people who stand against us or our beliefs. For us, it is not typically enemies like Saul was facing. But there are forces of evil at work around us and in others that are constantly trying to attack and break down the good that exists in any group or organization. A leader needs to identify the threat and lead others in opposing it.

Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. Psalm 72:1-4 (NIV)

A third work of leadership is ensuring justiceThis Psalm is describing the ideal king. The ruler makes sure justice is done – especially when it comes to the weak and vulnerable.  We are all tempted to overlook those who seem unimportant and who have few friends and advocates. As leaders, we need to be especially attentive to those others neglect and make sure they are treated fairly.

Teach them his decrees and instructions and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. Exodus 18:20 (NIV)

A fourth work of leadership is modelingThis is Jethro again, reminding Moses of his most important duty to the people. Indeed, setting an example for people is probably the most important activity for any leader. Note there is a dual viewpoint here: the leader both teaches and shows the way to live. I have emphasized “modeling” here because if we don’t live it, our words of instruction to others will sound hollow.

Verses about a Leader’s Requirements

If leaders are going to perform their work well, Scripture highlights over and over three necessities.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Proverbs 24:3-4 (NIV)

Leaders need wisdomA leader faces so many challenges and it is part of the nature of leadership to point the way forward through ambiguity and risk. Making good choices in such circumstances takes wisdom. The whole book of Proverbs is a meditation on what it really means to be wise.

Okay, but how do we get wisdom? Glad you asked.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

Leaders need to fear the LordA leader needs a sober appreciation of who God is and what a personal relationship with God means for all of life. If God is God, I am not. If God has made me, I am His and all I have comes from Him. If God is real, then He has the right to declare what is true and to determine what is to be done. In short, a leader needs to acknowledge and submit to reality: the starting point for wisdom.

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)

Leaders need humility. Lowliness of mind, not thinking we are better than others, is related to the fear of the Lord. Part of knowing reality is knowing my own limitations, having a proper regard for my own thinking. I don’t know everything; I must be willing to listen to the wisdom, knowledge, and guidance of others. If I don’t know how to be taught, I won’t know how to lead.

There are many books published on leadership. But there is only One Book that gives Heaven’s view of how to lead on earth. May these principles of leadership, drawn from the Bible’s leadership texts, be the cement for your leadership foundation.

Originally posted at Subscribe to (here). Find the YouTube Channel (here). Mark is President of The Comenius Institute (website). Dr. Eckel spends time with Christian young people in public university (one-minute video), teaching at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, and interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video). Consider becoming a Comenius patron (here).

Picture Credit: Luke Renoe,

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