Look for these five distinctives.

Many people today are warning us that the world is heading for disaster, but few are offering advice on how to avert it. Technical know-how abounds, but wisdom is in short supply. People feel confused, bewildered, alienated. We are like “sheep without a shepherd”—and our leaders often appear as “blind leaders of the blind.”

There is a great need for clear-sighted, courageous, and dedicated leaders in the home, the church, the community. Management books refer to “B.N.L.’s” (“born natural leaders”), men and women endowed with strong intellect, character, and personality. But as Bennie E. Goodwin, a black American educator, has written: “Although potential leaders are born, effective leaders are made.” And Christian leadership, to use the words of Oswald Sanders, is “a blending of natural and spiritual qualities,” or of natural talents and spiritual gifts.

What, then, are the marks of leadership in general, and of Christian leadership in particular? How can God’s gifts be cultivated and leadership potential developed? And what is needed to blaze a trail that others will follow?

Let me suggest five essential ingredients.

Vision

“Dreams” and “visions,” dreamers and visionaries, sound somewhat impractical and remote from the harsh realities of life on earth. Yet the biblical proverb holds true: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Of course, more prosaic words are used today. Management experts tell us we must set both long- and short-term goals. Politicians publish election manifestos. Military personnel lay down a campaign strategy. But whether they call it a “goal,” a “manifesto,” or a “strategy,” it is a vision nevertheless.

So what is vision? It is an act of seeing—an imaginative perception ...

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