Today’s guest post was submitted by John Townsend, Ph.D., a business consultant, leadership coach and psychologist. He has written or co-written 27 books, selling 6 million copies, including the 2 million best-seller Boundaries; Leadership Beyond Reason; and Handling Difficult People. 

Leadership is a significant part of the Bible’s teachings.

The concept was not invented by humanity, but by God. It is a part of His original structure for us. We were designed to lead matters on the earth, in some specific way. From the beginning, the command was  to “fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28).” The Hebrew meaning of the word “subdue” has to do with establishing order for a good purpose.

Picture Adam and Eve taking on an undomesticated wilderness and creating a home, land and gardens for their usefulness and beauty. That is the core of leadership: it is establishing order to create good. That “good” can be creating something out of nothing, or making something functional out of chaos. Sometimes, it is simply helping people make an organization perform at higher levels than it ever has before. This order can be found in many ways:

  • An entrepreneurial startup that becomes profitable
  • A corporate or CEO role that produces a great product or service
  • A volunteer ministry that helps people in need
  • A small business ownership that concentrates on quality
  • Being a manager of people and helping them achieve
  • Being a coach or mentor and guiding them toward success
  • Parenting kids to become healthy, responsible individuals

Throughout these examples, the idea is the same: establishing order to create good. That is when leadership is at is best and highest, and when leaders feel the most passion and fulfillment. Whether it be sustainability, market share or lives helped, leaders are designed to be engaged in this process.

The biblical model was not fulfilled in Genesis.

Jesus, the Second Adam, finalized the leadership mission that Adam and Eve failed at. When he died on the cross for us, he finished his work and he “put everything under his feet” (I Cor. 15:27).  The world has been subdued once and for all now,  and one day we will experience the fulfillment of his leadership.

What does this mean for leaders today?  Simply put, leadership will always be about three elements that we need to pay attention to, so that good will come:

  • An equipped leader. Adam, Eve and Jesus were all resourced with the authority and skill to do the job. In your own leadership, your task is to make sure that you are equipped. Be a person who  has the technical talent, discipline and people skills to execute. In my own work, coaching leaders and consulting with organizations, I have found that the highest performers are a restless sort. They are always in coaching programs, taking classes and going to trainings in order to establish the right kind of order.
  • An undomesticated organization or group.  God sent His original leaders to a planet that needed help, and still does! Every leader also has a company, department or group that needs his or her help. It may be about finances, a systems issue, a relational conflict, a cultural problem or a strategic matter. Whatever the “undomestication” is, make sure you have taken the initiative to understand the situation and what needs to happen. That is a critical role of leadership. My book Leadership Beyond Reason goes into more depth in this issue.
  • A process over time.  Creation is still a work in progress. God is still leading and changing his creation.  There is no instant or magic cure. Leaders need to resist the temptation to do things the quick or easy way, for that is not how long-term growth happens. Put together your plan, then begin to take the first steps. You will not see the good that you want to see happen immediately. But it happens if you are patient and do things right over time.

If you are a leader, God bless you!

You are part of an army of help that has been operating for thousands of years.  If you are not a leader, consider engaging in a sphere of influence where you can work with others to make the world a better place.  You are in good company.


John Townsend, Ph.D., is a business consultant, leadership coach and psychologist. He has written or co-written 27 books. For more than twenty years, Dr. Townsend has engaged with leaders, organizations and individuals around the globe, offering them life-changing solutions to their problems. He is a co-host of the nationally-syndicated talk show “New Life Live” which is heard in 180 markets with three million listeners. He is also a visiting professor at Dallas Seminary. He is also active on the board of Mustard Seed Ranch, a residential program for abused children. A resident of Newport Beach, California, Dr. Townsend and his wife Barbi have two sons.

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