The Most Overlooked Leadership Traits

July 12, 2014

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The Bible is full of leadership traits and characteristics. Many of these are not applied.

We all know of countless examples where leaders had a love of money, did not walk in sexual fidelity, or raise those dreaded “PK’s” (pastor’s kids, indicating they have issues in their family).

None of us apply all the leadership principles all the time. We are not perfect people.

But, are their some traits which we flat overlook?

I’d like to propose the two of the most overlooked leadership traits are found in a list of characteristics of overseers and deacons in 1 Timothy 3.

1. Gentleness (1 Tim. 3:3)
You will not find this in most leadership books on the market. Many consider gentleness to be weak while leaders are meant strong. If you think this is the perspective in modern times, it was much, much more in the male-dominated culture of the first century.

For Paul to include gentleness in a leadership list would be shocking. Leaders were real men. They were strong, commanding and demanding respect.

Gentle? Really Paul? Why?

Gentle leadership is not wimpy, but gracious. The word gentle was also used as patient, moderation, and kindness.

– A gentle leader is one who cares more for his followers than a self-serving agenda.
– This traits keeps us from unnecessary conflicts and rubbing people the wrong way.
– Truth spoken with a gentle tone takes down defenses rather than puts them up.
– A gentle leader is strong enough to confront, but loving enough so we can receive the input.
– If you do not see the need for leaders (also read parents) to be patient, you have not been a leader for more than a few hours!

When is the last time you read a leadership book or blog post about gentleness? It is an overlooked leadership trait.

2. Hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2)
The only time this comes up is when a leader is not doing this. “I’ve been going to this church for this many years and don’t even know where the pastor lives….”

In our age of mega-churches and simulcast church services, this trait is in danger of extinction. Often small group leaders express this more than the men and women at the top.

Now I know you cannot have everyone in a mega-church over for dinner. I cannot even do this in my own missions organization or even my team. But as Andy Stanley says, “Are we doing for some what we wish we could do for all?”

– Hospitality lowers power distance.
– It puts the leader at place of a servant.
– Sharing our home and our food promotes relationship with those we lead.
– Hospitality takes you from the untouchable, unreachable, unreal person in the pulpit and makes you normal.

First century leaders would never do this. They were feared, never fun. Paul’s words take the culture norm and turn them on its head.

Have you even seen a job application with a hospitality based question on it?  

I think gentleness and hospitality are two essential leadership traits, but are often overlooked.

Read 1 Timothy 3. Do you see any other traits that you feel are overlooked in today’s expressions of leadership?

Consider your own life and leadership. Are gentleness and being hospitable as important to you as they were to Paul? Or are they overlooked leadership traits?

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God