Author: Rachel Kidd
What makes a Godly Leader?
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
Psalm 78:72 NIV
When you think of a good and godly leader in your life, who do you think of? Is it a favorite teacher turned mentor, pastor, coach, or parent? For many of us, a godly leader is instrumental in our faith journeys. We all need someone who sees us and cares for us, guiding us with skillful hands.
I think of my own spiritual mentor, a youth group leader who also happened to be my AP English teacher in high school. She has been a patient source of wisdom and guidance for the past decade and it has been such a joy to do life with her and her family. She modeled for me a life of dedicated service, humility, grace, and integrity that I am forever grateful for. She made me feel valued and loved, especially during my high school years. A career teacher who won district teacher of the year, her faithfulness to her job and her community continues to inspire me.
Much like the leadership I found in my teacher, King David was a godly leader. While imperfect, like we all are, Psalms tells us that David led with integrity of heart and with skillful hands. Like my teacher, he was good at his job and took his role seriously. He cared for his people, he shepherded them like a good caretaker with years of measured practice. By coupling skillful ability with true care and consideration for others, King David models good and godly leadership.
A Model of Leadership
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13:3-5 NIV
Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:26-28 NIV
Of course, Jesus is the ultimate model of perfect, godly leadership. We can see from the life that Jesus lived on earth, that he humbled himself rather than exalting himself, no matter how much he deserved to be. He came to serve others first rather than to be served. A humble carpenter, a Nazarene, Jesus dwelled with fishermen, the sick, destitute, and the poor. He washed the feet of these, the least of these, doing the job of a servant. The Son of God became human, just to wash the dirty, calloused feet of fishermen from Nazareth.
This scene, of Jesus on His hands and knees, washing His disciples’ feet, reminds me of a reality show, Undercover Boss. Executives go undercover and work a day in the trenches, the low-level jobs of their own companies to uncover the reality of the job and see what their employees really think about them. Often, their experiences are incredibly eye-opening and life changing. These wealthy men leave the comfort of their white-collar offices and experience the life of the everyman, the physical labor that makes up the backbone of the company.
I just imagine Jesus, changing out of His heavenly robes and becoming not only human, but a poor Nazarene at that. Dressed in plain, homespun wool robes, Jesus left his father and throne in heaven for the toiling life of a peasant. For those who lead must first serve, rather than expect to be served.
Jesus even made a point to wash Judas’ feet, the one He knew would betray Him, because He came to serve all sinners, to wash our feet despite our betrayals. He knew our faults, lived our life of hardships, and served us anyway. And that is what a good leader does. They don’t sit above their flock, high and mighty on a far away pedestal. They are beside us, in the trenches, knowing our struggles and serving us anyway. Like King David and Jesus, good leaders not only are skilled at their position, but they spend time with their flock and care for them well.