#098: 8 Critical Attributes for Leaders You Didn’t Learn About in Business School

The establishment of resolutions often marks the beginning of the year. For some, New Year’s resolutions are the result of serious introspection. It is perhaps the one time in the year when an individual sits down to take stock of him or herself and ponder such serious subjects as the meaning and purpose of life.

Attributes, Light

Whether your resolutions are light-hearted or serious, or perhaps nonexistent, the New Year seems a fitting time to review our lives as business people. We spend an average of 52 hours a week at work, some more, some less. What we do and how we act during those hours is a reflection on us and makes a tremendous impression on the people with whom we share our lives.

 We Are A Light To The World

Jesus, teaching the disciples said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16).

Let’s take a look at this passage a little bit at a time. “You are the light of the world” Jesus’ declaration is simple and direct: if you are His disciple you are a light to the world. As a disciple, you represent His teaching to others.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.” Both of these statements get at the purpose of being a light to the world. You can’t hide a city, especially one perched on top of a hill. The purpose of lighting a lamp is not to hide its light but to use it to light up a room: “Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

As disciples who are a light to the world we should not attempt to hide our light but, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Not only are we not to hide our light but we are to make sure it shines before men.

This is very important. Non-believers will see the light, realize that God is working our lives, and want to develop a personal relationship with Him also.

What is this “light” we are to let shine forth? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The light in our hearts is the knowledge of Jesus Christ: he lived his life as an example to us, he died for our sins, and he rose from the grave to take His place at the right hand of God. So if the light in our life is Jesus and we are to let this light shine forth then we must try to live our lives like Jesus did his.

8 Critical Attributes for Leaders

Let’s look at some standards of behavior found in the Bible that applies to our business lives.

Matthew recorded Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which He taught the essence of the Christian life, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10).

We do not have to guess what the blessing will bring since in each case the blessing is followed by a second clause that defines the result of the blessing. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary defines the word blessed as, “A description of a believer’s inner condition.” Thus the Beatitudes do not describe how to become saved but rather the characteristics of one who is saved. It would be wrong to think that having three or four of these characteristics would be sufficient. We should make every effort to obtain all of these blessings as a group.

1. Poor In Spirit

Poor in spirit describes an attitude of the heart. It is the opposite of being proud in spirit. To be poor in spirit means that we recognize our spiritual bankruptcy apart from Christ and depend on Him for spiritual fulfillment.

A control addict would be an example of someone who is not poor in spirit. They try through their own power to control events and the world around them. It seldom occurs to a control addict to put problems in God’s hands, they prefer to work things out for themselves.

2. Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted,” is not to suggest that we should walk around with sad faces all the time. However, we should mourn the sin in the world that separates man from God. While we believers have the comfort of knowing that Christ died for our sins there are many in the world whose sin is what keeps them from knowing God.

3. Meek

The “meek will inherit the earth” is a direct reference to Psalm 37 where the characteristics of the meek are contrasted with the wicked.

In this case the meek, who have submitted themselves to the will of God, will receive His blessings while the wicked will be cut off.

For us, to be meek means that we need to submit to the will of God. Peter and James refer to meekness in our relationships and in these cases it is clear that meekness suggests gentleness and the ability to exercise self-control.

4. Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness

We should be driven to lead a life of personal righteousness. A simple way to think about personal righteousness is to ask yourself in any situation, “What would Jesus do?”

A story was written by Charles Sheldon, In His Steps, that tells the story of several children who encounter many difficult times and the wise old man who counsels them by always asking the question, “What would Jesus do?”

Often, in the rush of completing an assignment, or while under the pressure of taking care of an emergency, business people rush in with answers and never ask, “Is this the right thing?”, or “Is this what Jesus would do?”

5. Merciful

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “Mercy embraces both forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering and the needy.”

Forgiveness does not mean that we fail to punish or train those who make mistakes. These are two completely separate things. Compassion for the suffering and the needy does not mean that we should rush in to take care of everyone’s hurts. Sometimes the most compassionate thing is to teach someone how to avoid making the same mistake again in the future.

For example, you forgive the person who makes a mistake that costs you a sale, or damages inventory. Once forgiven you should still discipline the employee who made the mistake. How else will they learn?

You may feel compassion for the starving people in a poor country and you may take action to help feed them. But true compassion goes on to teach them how to become self-sufficient. It’s like the old line, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life.”

6. Pure in Heart

Double-minded people are constantly in a struggle. That is why Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt 6:24). To be pure in heart means to have a single focus on God and in doing His will.

A contemporary example of a double-minded businessman is someone who knows that it is wrong to lie about what his product will do, but he does it anyway to make the sale.

Another example is the CEO who will let his or her employees do whatever is necessary to be successful, even if that means being deceptive or dishonest.

7. Peacemakers

The peacemakers are not the pacifists you may remember from the 1960’s. Peacemakers are those who take delight in reconciliation rather than division, or strife. Some consider the Bible to portray anything but peace, especially as they read about the wars between the nations. But Jesus came as the ultimate peacemaker; to reconcile man with God, and to each other.

The desire for peace does not give way to principle, however. Remember that Jesus stormed into the temple and turned over the tables of the moneychangers and called them a den of robbers (Matt 21:13). The principle was at stake and on this principle, there was no room for compromise.

8. Persecuted

Those that follow Christ can expect persecution for their beliefs. Similarly, business people who hold to Biblical standards of behavior can expect persecution. I read a comment in a performance review file that said, “His integrity sometimes gets in the way of getting the job done.” If you hold to high standards there will be those that will try to bring you down.

Bonus Whitepaper

8 Critical attributes for Christian business people that you didn’t learn in business school is also available in the form of a bonus whitepaper. This 10-page bonus whitepaper includes more in-depth content covering the example we are to set, some great quotes, 10 virtues of a Godly executive, and a key points summary. You can download it here:

8 Critical Attributes for Business People You Didn’t Learn in Business School 

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! How are you doing living out these attributes? Are there any in particular that you struggle with? Is there an attribute in which you feel particularly blessed?

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Category: Personal Development | Values


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