Leadership & Individual Dignity

There are many definitions of leadership but all of them have a single common denominator, people. Of all the things that are addressed in leadership theory, among all of the applications of leadership principles, they all ultimately involve people. Leadership is about people. The way the leader views other people matters. If a leader has a low view of people, it will be reflected in virtually every area of his leadership. The way a leader views people, in the most difficult situations, that view will be demonstrated in the decisions he makes. Every aspect of the leader is reflected in his view of people. It is on this basis, the individual value and dignity of all people, that a leader must find his mooring. All people, regardless of circumstances, possess indelible value and dignity. The value and dignity of every human life has been ascribed to every person without exception by God Himself. Moses wrote, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). The value of each person has been ascribed to them by God because of how God created mankind.

God created man in His image. Biblical scholars offer various contributions as to the meaning of being made in the image of God, but what is clear is that this image makes man unique among all of creation. Also, the image of God is directly connected to the reason for man’s existence. Moses wrote, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). Because God made man in His own image, God instructed man to, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth…” God’s instruction for mankind was to fill the earth with the image of God through reproduction and his position was to subdue creation under the authority given to him by God. Man has been distinguished from animals by God through his position as one created in God’s image. People have been distinguished from animals by God because each person bears the image of God.

Every person is of value and bears individual dignity because they were created in the image of God. Moses wrote, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:6). In this passage, the highest punishment for murder is prescribed by God, death. Murder is punishable by death because every person bears the image of God. Every person bears the image of God and is of the highest value because of the way in which they have been created. All people have been created uniquely by God because every person bears God’s image and a leader must view every person with value and dignity. The image of God is to even affect the way that people speak of one another (James 3:9). People cannot be viewed as a commodity or as a dispensable resource. People are not a means to an end. Henry and Richard Blackaby wrote, “There is a difference between giving God your best and giving God the best. Excellence generally describes tasks, and tasks are usually a means to an end. People are the end. Churches that concentrate more on their tasks than on their people are missing what God considers most important.” The way a leader views people will determine his priorities and the way those priorities are carried out. A leader cannot disconnect the way he views people and the way he leads people. Every person is created in the image of God and every person must be led with value and dignity.


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