3 Principles of Effective Leadership

When it comes to leadership, perhaps the most often used passage in the Bible is Exodus 18. This is the story where Moses takes his father-in-law, Jethro, to work with him. After a long day of exhausting work as judge, teacher, commander, and priest of Yahweh for six million people, Jethro pulls Moses aside for a little heart to heart.

Jethro sees a micro-manager driving himself into an early grave by trying to do too much. He gets Moe’s attention pretty fast when he says, “Dude, you’re dumb!” (ok, that’s the Mossolonian translation)

Jethro then lays out some pretty solid wisdom that every leader needs to learn.


1. Clarification

You should continue to be the people’s representative before God…teach God’s decrees…give instructions…and show how to live…” (verses 19-20)

Jethro started out by clarifying Moses’ calling.

The most powerful principle of leadership is about self-discovery. Every leader must discover their unique leadership contribution.  Leaders need clarity on their God-given gifts, skills, passion, leadership style, and what their story has been preparing them for.

It is not enough to have leadership gifts or skills.

Leaders have to be crystal clear on why they’re here.

Once you are clear on your specific role in the whole, then you must learn to do less by only doing what you do best!

2. Delegation

Select capable, honest men…appoint them as leaders over groups…” (verse 21)

Delegation has to be one of the hardest lessons a leader must learn. Leaders fight with their own giftedness that tells them, “If you want a job done right then you better do it yourself,” or, “It’s easier and faster if I just go ahead and do it myself.”

Leaders who never learn the law of delegation can take some comfort in knowing that at least they’ll have a nice eulogy at their funeral – “He sure was a busy fella!”

Actually, delegation not only makes for a healthier leader, it is a mark of maturity.

No leader, no matter how gifted and energetic, will ever achieve as much alone as they will when they properly delegate.

When I refuse to delegate, I am:

  • Hurting myself by doing too much
  • Robbing myself of the fruit and joy of shared leadership
  • Kidding myself that I’m being effective

God has placed capable men and women in every organization.  Failing to engage them is a slap in God’s face.

3. Authorization

[let them] solve the people’s common issues…let the leaders make decisions…” (verse 22)

Some leaders, after reaching a point of exhaustion and saturation, recruit others to help them, but instead of true delegation, they’re just dumping tasks.

The difference between delegation and abdication is authorization.

That means that the leader not only turns over the problem, but also the power.

Too often leaders “delegate” a task to someone only to yank it back when it’s not done their way or to their liking or will overturn a decision made by the new leader. Regardless the newly appointed “leader” gets the message loud and clear, “You only wanted to use me to make your life easier. You didn’t actually value me as a leader.”

People don’t want to be employed; they want to be empowered.

Craig Groeschel said, “If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders.”



What are your thoughts?

1 Comment
  • Scott Creager
    Posted at 01:38h, 07 June Reply

    4. COMMUNICATION! without it, you can’t do the first three.

    I actually hate the word delegation. I know a lot of people who do it without coaching or mentoring. They are just passing busyness on to the next guy. Then there are those perfectionist who not only think the first two quotes but also say “If I don’t say it, it won’t get done.” It’s much easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, then it is for a hyper-critical perfectionist to be a leader. The big issue is trust. In verse 21, it says ” trustworthy men”. In 2 Tim 2.2 it says ” entrust to reliable men”. The point is TRUST, or that fancy church word of EMPOWERMENT. To establish it means to build a relationship, not pass tasks. A person’s ability to lead is directly correlated to their ability to trust. If our purpose statement is Loving God, Loving People, then our leadership statement should be, Trusting God, Trusting People. Thus leads me to number 5….

    5. Releasification(made up) or Reprieve from Condemnation

    Leaders can’t lead if they are condemning people or intimidating them. I’ve been in a lot of meetings of brainstorming ideas and sadly end with “Yeah, but such and such won’t approve of that.” Leaders unfortunately lid their areas. My advice let the people fail. It’s where God can grow them. Look at the Exodus again, so Jethro told Moses to appoint leaders over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Using my inner nerd, chapter 12, 600,000 men left Egypt, therefore approx. calculation 78,600 leaders appointed to get the nation of Israel from Egypt to the Promised land(their mission/vision) and of those how many succeeded? Two.( And who of the original nation did they bring? None. Everybody, every leader fails. If you try to control failure, then you are the biggest failure. Release and trust God.

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