Everywhere you look, I mean everywhere, they are there! Eloquent in speech, charming in outlook, smart in presentation—crowds follow them, people hang on to every word coming out of their mouths. Charismatic. Loud. Powerful. They are idols of our day! Yet, plenty of highly charismatic leaders have bombed out and failed because they lacked character, which trumps charisma every time. You don’t have to have charisma to be a leader. You do have to have character, credibility, because leadership is influence and if you don’t have credibility, then nobody is going to follow you.

You see, leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. There is no one particular leadership personality. In fact, there are many. You don’t have to be outgoing to be a leader. God wants to use your personality. Paul was choleric. Peter was sanguine. Moses was melancholic. Abraham was phlegmatic. They are as different as night and day. But God used them all. They were original, accepting who they were and embracing their God assignment.

While your reputation is about what people say you are, character is who you really are. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark when nobody is looking.” In Timothy 3:1-13, Paul lays out the necessary characteristics for church leadership. He never addresses having a robust resume, having gone to the right Bible School, or having a magnetic public persona. He talks about character traits. Charisma opens the door for you, but character will make you stay there. You don’t have to go far to see how much CHARACTER is important. In our day, we have seen some church leaders caught with their pants down, their fingers deep in the organization’s purse, lying through their teeth… cheats who use God’s word to peddle their agenda. Manipulative, controlling and domineering. Abusive of their power, unsympathetic to the people they are leading – slave drivers! The power of leadership revealed their lack of true character.

The fact is, you will burn out if you try to imitate someone else’s personality. Many years ago, one of my mentors, the late Dr. Phineas Dube advised me, “If you want to be a leader, don’t say, ‘I want to be like…’ and pick a model. If you try to imitate their personality, you will most likely burn out. All leaders are very different, there is great diversity. What great leaders do have in common is credibility and character. All great leaders have character.” I have over the past years followed this advice religiously. Sometimes a person gets into leadership without character and then those character flaws cause their downfall.

Hebrews 13:7-8 says, “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” This passage gives us three characteristics of good leaders:

  1. They have a message worth remembering. When they talk, people listen. “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.” Evidently, there is something worth remembering there.
  2. They have a lifestyle worth considering. “Consider the outcome of their way of life.” Does their walk match their talk? Does their life match who they say they are?
  3. They have a faith worth imitating. “Imitate their faith.”

If you want to be a good leader, you need to develop a message worth remembering (Do I understand and articulate the Gospel clearly? What is my life message? What does God want to say to the world through me?), have a lifestyle worth considering, and have a faith worth imitating. That’s all character!