Although a leader must lead every person with value and dignity, a leader must never forget that all people are sinners. As a personal testimony, the apostle Paul wrote, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:14-15). People sin because they are sinners. Being a “sinner” is a state of existence not a description of action. Even as people have been made in the image of God, they are fallen. Millard J. Erickson wrote, “The Bible’s depiction of the human race is that it today is actually in an abnormal condition… In a very real sense, the only true human beings were Adam and Eve before the fall, and Jesus. All the others are twisted, distorted, corrupted samples of humanity. It is therefore necessary to look at the original human state in Christ if we would correctly assess what it means to be human.” As a leader, is important to remember that people are to be treated with value and dignity even as they act in contradiction to that value and dignity. Furthermore, a leader must remember that it will not be his first instinct to treat people with value and dignity but rather because he is a sinner leading sinners he will have a desire to live a life that is self-serving. The natural tendency for all people, including the leader is to seek their own well-being and to live out their own desires. As stated above, the human existence is a twisted one, deeply marred by sin. People do not naturally follow leaders, and leaders don’t naturally seek the well-being of others.
A leader must practice the discipline of viewing others as individuals made in the image of God. The way the leader views people will result in the way he treats people. In order for a leader to view people correctly and treat people correctly he must submit to God’s leadership. A leader who submits to God’s leadership will correct his thoughts on all things by the Word of God. A leader must submit to God’s leadership in how he leads other people. The apostle Paul wrote, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4). A genuine leader is not one who functions by his own ability but is one who submits to God’s leadership. J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “Spiritual leadership requires superior spiritual power, which can never be generated by the self. There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader. A true leader influences others spiritually only because the Spirit works in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads.” A genuine spiritual leader must be one who submits to God’s leadership out of an understanding of dependence that the task of which he has been called is one in which he is truly inadequate.
A leader must live with the awareness of his inadequate view of people apart from God, his inadequate ability to lead people apart from God and his ignorance on where to lead apart from God. Every leader must live in constant awareness of his sinfulness and inability to lead other people in the tasks that are pleasing to God. Henry and Richard Blackaby wrote, “The primary purpose of spiritual leaders is not to achieve their goals but to accomplish God’s will… spiritual leaders have a God-given responsibility to do all they can to lead their people on to God’s agenda.” A genuine spiritual leader is a leader who is dependent on God. A leader must be willing to submit his ideas, his strategies and his goals to accomplish the will of God. R. Scott Rodin wrote, “Godly leadership is the miracle of God’s use of our earthen vessels for the glorious work of His kingdom.” A leader has a task that is greater than himself, it is a task that requires the instruction, direction and power of God to accomplish. A leader is one who is aware of his personal sinfulness and is dependent on God for a correct view of others and on the power of the Holy Spirit to treat others as Christ would treat them.