Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Right Stuff: Inside out Leadership

"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." I Samuel 16:7

Selecting or electing people for positions of leadership is often based on false premises. In our media saturated culture leaders are often chosen for their looks, their eloquence, their education, their ability to attract support or raise money, or grow a church. But from God's vantage point, the standards for leadership, while it may include all of the above, require one key ingredient without which a leader will not survive. Every leader needs to have an inner life that is intact. Scripture calls it, having heart.

The 20111-12 Republican primaries is proof positive. At first, the tide of popularity rose in favor of Herman Cain. But as his many skeletons tumbled from the closet of his private life, he was disqualified by the huge integrity issues about his character. Now the spot light is on Newt Gingrich. He is clearly a very qualified man, but people are raising questions about his inner life, his integrity and his past choices. 

What constitutes fitness for service?  

From God's perspective, the process works from the inside out. What is the inner make up of this person? Is there integrity, love, faithfulness, courage, devotion? The person God chooses will always be second guessed, ignored, and even challenged. This is evident when Samuel goes to Jesse's house to choose the next king of Israel. He looked at the impressive stature of Jesse's seven sons and thought the next king would be one of them. But God told him, "Keep looking." David did not fit the typical leadership grid: he was young, small, and inexperienced. But he apparently had something his brothers did not have: heart.

The person God chooses ultimately shines the spotlight on the glory of God rather on himself or herself. 

The person chosen by popular vote often shines the spotlight on their accomplishments. They are often insecure because so much is predicated on performance. 

May the Lord help us look at each other and those chosen to lead from the inside out. As Jesus said, what's in a person's heart reveals the person's words and character (Luke 6:45). 

Question: What are your standards for leadership? Should a person's inner life be more important than their competencies?