The most accomplished writers all began the same way—as children, learning their ABC’s. There is a language of leadership and mastering it begins with learning the ABC’s of being a leader. Now when you want to know the basics of leadership, there is no better place to look than the pages of the Bible. As Yale Professor William Lyon Phelps once said, “I thoroughly believe in a university education, but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.”

So with that in mind, here are the Bible’s keys to effective leadership… A to Z.

A is for Action

No one wants to follow someone who is all talk and no results, but people will follow a person of action every time.

B is for Beginning

Business pioneer Charles Schwab once wrote, “The difference between getting somewhere and nowhere is the courage to start. The fellow who sits still and does just what he is told will never be told to do big things.”

C is for Character

When it comes to exercising influence in the lives of others, there is no more important attribute you can possess than personal integrity.

D is for Desire

A healthy desire for a goal or objective creates the impetus to overcome the obstacles that lie in your path.

E is for Excellence

Excellence can be defined as the gradual result of consistent improvement. As Aristotle once wrote, “Excellence is not an act, but a habit. It is won by training and discipline. We are what we repeatedly do.”

F is for Faith

Faith—or you could say belief or conviction—is the reservoir from which we draw power. It provides that extra push that helps you carry on in adversity. More importantly, the very universe was created to respond and change in the face of faith.

G is for Goals

Goals give you the specific direction to take to make your dreams come true.

H is for Humility

Few people are influenced by someone who looks down on them. That’s why a humble spirit is a vital trait for those who would lead.

I is for Imagination

Would you like to have the ability to perceive new business opportunities? Then what you need is imagination. Einstein once said, “To see new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.”

J is for Judgment

Look back across history at the greatest and best of the world’s leaders and you’ll notice something. They possessed good judgment—a quality the Bible often calls wisdom and discernment.

K is for Knowledge

The great economist J.M. Clark called knowledge, “the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns.” It’s the knowledge you wisely put to work that is power.

L is for Loyalty

Loyalty can’t be demanded. It can only be earned. If you want those you lead to be loyal to you and to your vision, you must be loyal to them.

M is for Management

You may be a one-man operation, but you still must manage your time, your resources, and your relationships. Your skill at managing these three areas largely determines the level of success you will experience in this life.

N is for Name

Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” Your words, your appearance, your actions, and your deeds all work together to form your reputation—or as the Bible calls it—your name.

O is for Opportunity

Great leaders tend to see opportunities. They have trained themselves to look at every situation and see what’s possible.

P is for Planning

It’s a good thing to have a goal. It’s even better if you have a powerful inner drive to achieve it. Without a workable plan, your goal and passion will benefit you little.

Q is for Quality

King Solomon said, “Show me a man skilled in his work and I’ll show you a man who will stand before kings.” Nothing has changed in the last three thousand years. Quality still matters.

R is for Responsibility

Influence flows to those willing to shoulder responsibility. It’s an immutable law woven into the very fabric of the universe by God Himself. As we read in the book of Proverbs, “The hand of the diligent will rule.”

S is for Service

All lasting leadership begins with servanthood. If things are not going well with you, examine the level of service you are rendering to others and the spirit with which you are delivering it. As you strive to meets the needs of others, you’ll find your influence growing.

T is for Time

John D. Rockefeller once said, “Without the management of time, you will soon have nothing left to manage. On a similar note, the Bible encourages us to “redeem the time,” meaning to put it to the best use possible.

U is for Understanding

Former GE chairman Owen D. Young recognized the leadership power of understanding when he wrote, “The man who can put himself in the place of other men, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for him.”

V is for Values

If you want maximum achievement and cohesion, every individual in an enterprise, from the top of the organizational chart to the bottom, needs to know what the leader considers important and what he or she wants the enterprise to represent.

W is for Words

Rudyard Kipling called them the most powerful drug used by mankind. Sartre called them loaded pistols. The Bible attributes the power of life and death to them. I’m talking about words. No leader can afford to be careless with his words if he hopes to be effective.

X is for Excellence

One of the primary challenges every leader must face is the need to inspire others to excellence. Throughout the Bible, great leaders motivated others by setting the example. Those who look to you for leadership will take their cues from you. Standards are transmitted from the top.

Y is for Yielded

You can’t expect those you lead to be responsive to your authority if you consistently show a rebellious and independent attitude toward those in authority over you. That’s why the best leaders aren’t simply experts at exercising authority. They have trained themselves to be “under” authority as well.

Z is for Zeal

Victory usually comes not to the one with the most talent but rather the one with the most desire.

So there it is: the language of leadership as defined by the Bible. As Elbert D. Thomas once wrote, “Everything for which democracy stands is based upon biblical faith. Neither enlightened self-interest nor practical ethics can make an effective substitute.” Countless great leaders in history have looked to God’s Word for wisdom and insight; if you want to be a great leader, you will do the same.

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