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Some of the greatest leaders of the Bible were military commanders. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and David all proved their leadership skill on the battlefield. That's why it shouldn't surprise us to discover that there is a lot we can learn about skillful leadership from great generals in history and, of course, from the great generals of the Bible.

For example, Major General William Cohen spent his life studying the leadership qualities of great military leaders. In his book, "The Stuff of Heroes," Cohen points out that almost all great combat leaders talked about integrity as being the most significant factor in leadership. What, exactly, is this quality which is so universally prized among leaders?

Integrity means adherence to a set of values, which incorporates freedom from deception. But as the Bible teaches us, integrity is more than mere honesty. It means doing the right thing regardless of circumstances or benefits to the leader.

Why is this so important? Because maintaining absolute integrity is the bottom-line rule for any leader if they want their subordinates to follow them under all conditions. How do you cultivate integrity? First: Keep your word. If you say something, make certain it is the exact truth. Second: Choose the harder right over the easier wrong. When you are faced with choices of right or wrong, no matter what your boss thinks, no matter what the stockholders think—choose the right.

The Bible is clear on this issue: to lead effectively, especially during difficult times, you must be known as a person of your word.

One of our greatest military leaders was General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. He eventually became the U.S. Air Force's second Chief of Staff. General Robert Danforth, who was Commandant of Cadets at West Point when the future General Vandenberg was there, tells a revealing story.

Apparently Vandenberg was not a natural leader. In fact, he was almost dismissed from the academy for lack of leadership ability during his first year. But he didn't accept that condition as final. He made a quality decision to develop leadership skills and became one of our nation's finest. At a critical time in his life, Vandenberg discovered the truth of Jesus' words: All things are possible to him who believes.

In a similar vein, management guru Peter F. Drucker once wrote that, in his opinion, the best book on leadership ever written was by a Spartan General named Xenophon. The book was on combat leadership and his work described leadership actions during a five-month military campaign in Persia.

Think about it. One of the greatest management thinkers of our time found wisdom for leaders in a 2,400-year-old book. Does it seem less likely that you would find wisdom for growing as a leader in a 2,000-year-old book inspired by God Himself?

The Bible is the greatest leadership manual ever written. If you're teachable, you can learn to be a leader.

What skills do outstanding leaders most often possess? One of them is clearly persistence—the tenacity to keep driving toward your goals. It's important to remember that people who risk making changes and pursue lofty goals not only succeed more often, they also fail more often.

But effective leaders are so completely committed to their vision that they see setbacks as opportunities rather than dead ends. When they fall down, they pick themselves up, figure out why they fell, and try again.

That's why the book of Romans encourages us along these lines:
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.
(Rom. 15:4-5 NAS)
When I think about tenacious leadership, I think about Federal Express founder, Fred Smith. In the early difficult days of that company, Smith faced a wall of obstacles. At a time when he was thirty million dollars in debt, and being sued by his own family, he nearly lost his job as chairman. Yet, he inspired such loyalty in his employees that his van drivers pawned their watches to buy gasoline so they could get their packages to the airport on time.

Effective leaders have inspirational qualities that motivate common people to do uncommon things. Inspiration is the ability to express vision in ways that moves others toward powerful actions.

No leader in history has inspired more people more profoundly than Jesus of Nazareth. Study His leadership style and you can't go wrong. He is the military general who is leading His troops to the greatest victory in the history of the universe!

Source: Positioned for Promotion by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Mac Hammond Ministries

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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