By Mark Thompson
The Bible is not just a guide for your spiritual walk. Tom R. Harper, author of Leading from the Lion’s Den: Leadership Principles From Every Book of the Bible (B&H Publishing, 2010), wants you to use the Bible in dealing with people and situations in your business life as well. “I’d like leaders to get a renewed appreciation for the Bible’s practical wisdom in everyday leadership situations,” he says.
Harper is president of NetWorld Alliance, an online business-to-business publisher, and founded ChurchCentral.com, a website focused on church leadership, located in Louisville, KY. In the book he expounds on 66 business principles – one from each book of the Bible – that have inspired best-practice leadership for thousands of years.
The author responded to several questions from Church Executive:
What are your thoughts on the need for not only spiritual revival but also a leadership revival in today’s churches?
I believe spiritual and leadership revivals are intimately linked in the church. When people turn their hearts to God, they can’t help but emulate Christ. This causes many of them to stand up and volunteer, to sacrifice for others, and to reach out to the lost – all marks of a biblical leader. If a church wants to raise up leaders, a great place to start is the spiritual development and discipleship of all their people.
Is leadership inherent or is it possible to teach someone to be a good or great leader?
I’m proof that leadership is a learned behavior! I’ve always been a good follower, probably because I’m low-key and reserved. But leadership didn’t come naturally for me. I’ve learned that some people are born with a personality that makes it easier to lead, but that only takes them 10 percent of the way. Study, experience, maturity, wisdom and daily prayer are the true building blocks for any leader.
In each chapter you mix in biblical, historical, and modern examples of leadership. Is there a common leadership thread?
There is one common leadership model I’ve found — the model of Christ. He embodies every concept from my book rolled up into one person. While these leadership qualities haven’t changed throughout history, I think the world’s opinion of good leadership is what’s changed. I’m glad to see modern thinking pointing back to humility as a key success factor, but I believe there’s a lot more than humility in the Bible. Servant leadership is just the beginning, but it is the foundation.
Who is your leadership hero?
Billy Graham is one of my modern heroes. He has always exhibited fearless leadership, yet is gentle and caring. He capitalized on the opportunities God presented to counsel many U.S. presidents. He spoke what he believed without hesitation. He has never incurred criticism for moral failure. He knew what his purpose was all his life, and has already created a legacy in his son Franklin’s work. He is universally respected, even by non-Christians.
What are the components of a good leader?
I put a long list of leadership qualities in the back of the book that summarize most of my chapters into one word or phrase. All of these qualities can be found in Jesus. Some examples include compassion, contentment, self-discipline, patience, drama, impartiality, flexibility, discernment, efficiency, adaptability, scars, succinctness, truthfulness and mercifulness.
What would be one leadership lesson that you think is most important?
What I discovered in Second Thessalonians has really made a difference in my own leadership. The concept is this: The hybrid leader diagnoses a situation, discerns the required leadership style, and applies it to the best of his or her ability. Most leaders find that their core style doesn’t work in every situation.
Mark Thompson is administrative and technical assistant to the pastor at First Baptist Church of Orangevale in California.