But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 NIV 1984
The need for wisdom in leadership is an easy case to make, especially for any who have tried to lead. The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source. Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the pitfalls and landmines of both the social and legal challenges of our day.
But, what does godly wisdom look like? James describes seven manifestations or characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.
The first manifestation of godly wisdom is that it’s pure. By pure we mean clean, uncontaminated, undefiled, not polluted, and holy. This godly wisdom does not co-mingle the world’s wisdom with God’s wisdom. There is no duplicity in our leadership, leaving no room for accusations of false motives or deception. We are to be ‘above reproach.” (see 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5-7)
Wisdom from above discerns the ways of the world from the ways of God. Godly wisdom seeks to please the Lord in accomplishing His purposes for and through us in ways that are pleasing to Him. At times these ways may run counter to the social or political tide of our days. We must lead courageously during these times, without compromise, but also without a ‘martyr syndrome’ of seeking trouble just for the sake of our over-inflated egos. We are to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (see Matthew 10:16)
Godly wisdom uses the Word of God as the unchanging standard — the rule for life and leadership and will submit itself to its authority. The Bible is not seen as ‘a source’ for guidance, but rather, ‘the final source’ for instruction on how we must lead. With today’s prevailing post-modern thought that there is no absolute truth, the Kingdom leader must boldly declare that there is one unchanging measuring rod, God’s Word. Kingdom leaders who are wise will both know His Word and apply it in their lives first and then as they lead others.
Purity in leadership – it’s first on the list of characteristics for those who would seek to be Kingdom leaders. Is it first on your list?