The regal bearing of a king is not revealed by outward extravagance, but by character and attention to the well-being of those influenced by his leadership. Certain actions and attitudes are not fitting for a king. Others are imperative to the success of a king. The wise counsel of Lemuel’s mother detailed in Proverbs 31:1-9, is generally ignored by those in high rank in society or political standing – the “kings” of the world, yet it is relevant for us today. As believers, we are made kings and priests because of our relationship to God (Rev. 1:6 – NKJ). Let’s look at some of the kingly qualities that characterize Christian leaders, as well as every believer.
A true king:
- Resists fleshly indulgence (Prov. 31:3). A king is in a privileged position and has resources available to him that others cannot access. A position of leadership should be used to bring people into truth and freedom, but abuse of power brings people into subjection, confusion, and even sin. Consider David calling Bathsheba into his presence. She could have resisted, but when pressure is coming from a person of power and influence, standing up for truth requires much more strength. A true king will not waste his “influence capital” on personal indulgence.
- Resists escapism in times of pressure (Prov. 31:4-6). Let those who have no hope resort to escapism, advises the wise mother. The king must remain alert and in possession of all his faculties at all times. He cannot afford to let himself fall into a stupor that will erode the respect of others and have devastating consequences should an attack of the enemy occur. Leaders are not perfect, but they cannot afford to be careless and sloppy.
- Has deep concern for others (Prov. 31:5-9). There is a book entitled, “Leaders Eat Last.” I haven’t read it but I get the message. The leader, like Jesus, is the one who serves; he is not demanding to be served by others. His heart is tuned to the love of God, with special care for the defenseless, often typified by the widow and orphan. He is angered by oppression and maintains his resolve to be the solution and not add to the problem. A by-product of his concern and service to others is the growth and enrichment of his allies and co-workers. The condition of a people reflects the nature of their leader, for good or bad. Just as the king is fed by the peasant’s field, a leader is strengthened by the bonds of love and fruitful labors of healthy followers (Prov. 20:28).
- Has a serious attitude (Prov. 31:5), knowing that impulsive behaviors can have destructive consequences or set something in motion difficult to stop or reverse (Prov. 20:2-3). A person with authority must be careful with his words, both spoken and written. A rash email sent in the heat of a moment can’t be recaptured. Anyone can do harm with words, but a leader’s reckless words carry greater weight and have wider influence. Leaders know this and weigh their words and actions accordingly.
- Has authority to take action and succeed (Prov. 31:9). A king is the one responsible to initiate action. A wise king invests in his realm with intensive building and skills development. When an attack comes he and his people are ready to meet and overcome the enemy. A leader who invests in his people will have the support and empowerment of others to overcome obstacles and achieve goals.
- Knows that his/her voice is heard by both friend and foe (Prov. 31:8-9). Unempowered people may complain, “My voice doesn’t count. There is nothing I can do to effect change.” The true leader knows that his voice is heard in heaven. It is not arrogance but boldness in his relationship to Jesus Christ that gives the leader confidence in his/her dealings with God and dealings with the enemy.
The actions and attitudes of leaders can bring either freedom or repression to others. With this in mind we humble ourselves before God and attend to godly counsel. We then give ourselves to expressing the heart of Jesus our King, and increasing His influence through faithful administration of love and authority in the realm entrusted to us.