Poor Leadership vs Great Leadership

Some of the differences between poor leadership and great leadership.

The Bible is a surprisingly rich source of leadership wisdom, and has been a significant source of inspiration to many of the most respected leadership gurus of our age, including John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard and Stephen Covey [1. which is not to say that everything these authors say is Biblical].

The table below illustrates some of the differences between poor leaders and effective leaders. It is loosely inspired by the contrast between the self-serving leadership of the Pharisees and the world-changing leadership of Jesus and his early followers.

The table below is loosely based on this contrast:

The Poor Leader The Great Leader
Needs to feel superior to others Seeks growth through personal humility [1. Luke 2:52]
Derives status from good connections [1. Matthew 3:9] Derives authority from good character [1. Matthew 7:29]
Is concerned with external appearances [1. Matthew 5:20] Is concerned with internal realities [1. John 14:27]
Is fearful that their mistakes will be discovered [1. Matthew 5:20] Is honest about their failings [1. James 5:15]
Avoids being seen with the wrong kind of people [1. Matthew 9:11] Sees value in everyone [1. Mark 2:17]
Makes a show of self-denial [1. Matthew 9:14] Enjoys life to the full [1. John 10:10]
Thinks they’re better than other people [1. Matthew 9:14] Recognizes that we all share the same struggles [1. Hebrews 4:15]
Treats rules as more important than people [1. Matthew 12:2] Treats people as more important than anything [1. John 3:16]
Lives by the rules [1. Matthew 12:9-16] Lives by convictions
Imposes rules on others [1. Matthew 12:9-16] Frees others from their limitations [1. Mark 10:52]
Is threatened by the success of others [1. Matthew 12:14] Celebrates the success of others [1. Matthew 25:23]
Assumes the worst of people [1. Matthew 12:24] Sees the best in people
Speaks ill of good people [1. Matthew 12:24] Speaks well of others
Understands right behaviour is defined by tradition [1. Matthew 15:1-9] Understands right behaviour is what benefits people
Resists change [1. Matthew 15:1-9] Embraces beneficial change [1. Matthew 5:17]
Neglects family [1. Matthew 15:1-9] Takes care of family [1. 1 Timothy 3:4]
Focuses on resources [1. Matthew 15:12-14] Focuses on production
Is easily offended [1. Matthew 15:12-14] Is not daunted by the opinion of others
Is unaware of their ignorance [1. Matthew 15:12-14] Knows that they have a lot to learn
Has a damaging influence [1. Matthew 16:6-12] Has a healing influence [1. Matthew 8:1-4]
Wants people to be just like them [1. Matthew 16:6-12] Helps others to make the best of their potential
Asks questions to catch people out [1. Matthew 19:3] Asks questions to help people think for themselves
Is quick to point the finger [1. Matthew 15:8] Encourages despite their failings [1. John 3:17]
Lives a life based on rules [1. Matthew 15:8] Lives a life based on healthy relationships
Is fearful of emotions – their own and those of others [1. Matthew 21:15-16] Lives a life of passion [1. John 11:35]
Talks a good talk [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Walks a good walk
Makes it hard for others to be successful [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Encourages success in others
Seeks high positions [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Seeks to influence others to their benefit
Is keen to impress [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Is keen to make a difference
Seeks status [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Looks for ways to serve [1. Matthew 20:28]
Knows-it-alls [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Is too busy living to show off
Defines a standard [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Sets an example [1. 1 Corinthians 11:1]
Teaches a pipe-dream [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Shares an experience
Points the way [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Demonstrates the way [1. John 14:6]
Watches people get weary and sick and tired [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Helps people to recharge their batteries [1. Matthew 11:29]
Keeps up appearances [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Isn’t out to impress [1. Mark 18:18]
Is a consumer [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Is a producer
Builds their importance on the productivity of others [1. Matthew 23:3-5] Sees the importance of helping others to build productive lives
Seeks status [1. Matthew 23:6-7] Values the contribution of others
Enjoys positions of honor [1. Matthew 23:6-7] Sees others as fellow travelers
Like titles [1. Matthew 23:6-7] Eschews titles
Want public recognition [1. Matthew 23:6-7] Gives honor to others
Is self-important [1. Matthew 23:6-7] Is humble
Is ineffective [1. Matthew 23:13-15] Is effective
Reduces the effectiveness of others [1. Matthew 23:13-15] Promotes effectiveness in others
Wears a mask of respectability [1. Matthew 23:13-15] Is authentic [1. John 1:14]
Acts a part [1. Matthew 23:13-15] Is genuine
Insists that people emulate their way of life [1. Matthew 23:15] Encourages others to be the best that they can be
Applies rules selectively, but is unaware of their own inconsistencies [1. Matthew 23:15] Applies principles consistently
Insists on the letter of the law [1. Matthew 23:23] Allows for people’s mistakes
Quibbles over minor matters [1. Matthew 23:23] Focuses on the bigger issues
Nit-picks the presentation [1. Matthew 23:23] Majors on the meaning
Is hard on self and others [1. Matthew 23:23] Is kind to self and others
Focus on appearances [1. Matthew 23:25-27] Focuses on character [1. Galatians 5:22-23]
Desires more for self [1. Matthew 23:25-27] Wants more for everyone
Has a scarcity mentality [1. Matthew 23:25-27] Has an abundance mentality [1. Psalm 50:10]
Pays lip-service to heroes [1. Matthew 23:29] Seeks to emulate heroes
Is quick to say what they would have done better [1. Matthew 23:29] Is keen to demonstrate a better way
Sucks the life out of others [1. Matthew 23:33] Gives life to others
Dismisses visionaries [1. Matthew 23:34] Is a visionary
Rejects innovation [1. Matthew 23:34] Stimulates innovation
Refuses to learn [1. Matthew 23:34] Is a life-long learner [1. Heb rews 5:8]

Acknowledgements

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