Recent columns discussed leadership lessons from
Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Apostle John. This month we will
consider lessons from three different leaders in the early Church.
Leaders demonstrate courage. Stephen, one
of the first seven deacons in the early Church, demonstrated courage by
standing up to the Sanhedrin—seventy men who comprised the
supreme judicial and ecclesiastical council of ancient Jerusalem.
Stephen exhibited unwavering moral courage and character by speaking
the truth, irrespective of the possible consequences; and for Stephen
the consequences were severe. The Sanhedrin exercised its power by
driving him from the city where he was subsequently stoned to death.
Leaders cannot succeed without the courage to stand for what they
Leaders motivate, energize, and gain support.
Phillip, another of the first deacons, has been described as an
“energized evangelist” who was motivated to take the Gospel to Samaria,
explain it to the high-ranking Ethiopian official, and spread it on his
way to Caesarea. The fact that Phillip had four daughters noted for the
gift of prophecy gives further evidence of his ability to motivate. He
motivated at home as well as away. Leaders must first themselves be
motivated, and then they must motivate others. When followers are
motivated, they will support the leader and work to fulfil the mission.
Leaders must be encouragers. Although his
given name was Joseph, he was nicknamed Barnabas, which means “son of
encouragement.” Without Barnabas, Paul’s ministry would not have
occurred. Barnabas encouraged the apostles to welcome Paul into the
fellowship; then he encouraged Paul and accompanied him on his first
missionary journey. Would others label you and encourager or a
discourager? An encourager puts courage into others, a discourager
takes it out. Leaders must encourage others. Discouraged followers
fail; encouraged followers succeed and work to accomplish the task or
Stephen, Phillip, and Barnabas lived 2000 years
ago; but the leadership traits they demonstrated are still true today.
Leaders must be courageous, motivating, and encouraging.