Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders – Introduction | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 07, 2018

Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

Today we are going to start a new series called – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”.  When we teach leadership on a Sunday morning, many might think – “Why do we need to teach leadership on a Sunday morning service? Not all of them are leaders who are coming here on a Sunday morning service. There may be people who have never heard of Jesus, who are here for the first time or children are here and some would have come with an expectation of spiritual enlightenment & spiritual thrill to be received during a Sunday morning service. And you want to teach about leadership?” But I thought about this, and what really drove me to this sermon series and start on a Sunday morning is this – I was thinking about what Jesus was doing for three and a half years?

What do you think He did during these three and a half years? I believe He was trying to develop leadership. Think about it. All that Jesus did for three and a half years was to educate, teach and impart those skills of leadership into the twelve apostles. That is exactly what Jesus did and I strongly believe that is what the churches would need today. We need good leaders. There are many books in this world on the topic of Leadership, but only one starts with the right foundation on Leadership and that is the world’s best-selling book. Does anybody have any idea about what is the world’s best-selling book? The number one bestselling book is the Bible, fortunately also the best leadership manual. We are glad that we can base our teaching on the best-selling book.

We are going into the Word of God to learn from the lives of men and women who are called to lead during the Old Testament days. The Old Testament leaders are Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Joshua, Joseph, David, Gideon, and Nehemiah and the list goes on. These are a couple of good leaders we see in the Old Testament. There is a great scarcity of leadership in the Christian world. Good leaders are not available in the Christian world. But who knows, as we speak on leadership, I strongly believe God will raise some leaders from this congregation in the coming days. At times, many of us don’t see ourselves as leaders. Nobody is born as a leader – there is no label. Leaders are not born, but they are raised. Leadership can be nurtured, it can be cultivated, it can be taught. But it is up to an individual to stand as a leader. A leader is the one who knows the way – the best leader is our Lord Jesus Christ because He said I am the way. “A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” – as said by John C Maxwell.

What are we called for?

We are called to lead – the commandment that Jesus gave to the disciples is to go and preach the gospel all over the world and make them disciples. If we think about that commandment, it was not only for that small group. It is a commandment that was given to all of us. We are called to make disciples. Church is not meant to sit passively and watch others leading. We are called to lead broken lives. That was the call of God upon the lives of the disciples and that is the call of God upon our lives. We are called to bring healing to this land, we are called to heal the broken hearted. That is the reason why Jesus Christ came into this world according to the Scriptures. Prophet Isaiah says He came to heal the broken hearted.

Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” – John C. Maxwell

We are all called for various reasons, this is the call of God that helps us see beyond the walls of the Church. The call of God is on our lives, it is up to us to grab it or leave it. The challenge that is in front of us is to take our eyes and set our eyes beyond the four walls of the church to see the heart of the city. In the book – Developing Leaders Within You, John C Maxwell states that “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Everybody is influenced by others – be it our house or our workplace. Sometimes we think that pastoral call is a higher call than the call of God in our lives – to work in our workplace, to be in the classroom, with our friends, in a factory floor or to be in the nursing home. We are all called by God to do something. At times we consider something else much higher than our call. But  we are all called in God’s kingdom. God has called us and put us in a place where we can influence others. We are not in the church all the seven days of the week, we are at workplaces, schools, spending time with family and so on. But we are called to influence. But in this journey, none of us are perfect.

Perfection is not a quality needed for a leader, the only perfect leader is our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Here a little, there a little”:

There are a couple of principles that we need to apply as we study and as we move further. One important principle is called – “Here a little, there a little”. The Bible does not say that Abraham was a great leader because of his leadership style. Nor does it say that Moses was a great leader because in his leadership he achieved many things. Even Joshua was not considered a great leader because he was a man of courage. As a student of the Word of God, we need to be careful to observe the leadership qualities in the Word of God. We need to apply these scriptural principles.

Isaiah 28:10 – “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” 

NLT: Isaiah 28:10 – “He tells us everything over and over–one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”

  • Precept is a principle.
  • As a student of the word of God, we need to collect everything together.
  • There is another scripture that says none of the scripture stands on its own, it has a mate. There is a pair for every scripture.
  • We need to search and find that mate of that scripture and they are all linked together.
  • To find the qualities of a great leader from the Old Testament – we will be linking pieces of scripture together.

God commended the Old Testament leaders:

When we think about the Old testament leaders, these men and women are commended by God for their leadership qualities. The Bible tells us that these men and women obeyed God when God commanded them. Most of all they feared God and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. One example is from –

Genesis 1:38 – So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Pharaoh realized that Joseph has the spirit of God and is being led by the Spirit.

  • Connecting this with the New Testament we find in Acts that the Apostles must appoint leaders in the church and the main qualification was to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
  • They must be spirit-filled people who are led by the Holy Spirit. A leader is one who is filled with the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit.
  • The Pharaoh is testifying about Joseph when he asked if it is possible to find a leader such as Joseph who is filled with the Holy Spirit in whom the Spirit of God of God was present.

True leaders are defined by their characteristics:

Job 1:1 – “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” 

  • Job was blameless, nobody could point a finger at him and he was doing the right things in life. He feared God and he shunned evil, these are the qualities that God commends about Job.
  • Many of the leaders in the Old Testament are commended by the Word of God and the ten commandments were embedded in their hearts.
  • Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness.”  It is one of the ten commandments.
  • A simple example that explains what a false witness is – our employer will be able to trust in us only when they know that we do not lie – truthful and trustworthy.
  • The lying spirit is not from God. When we think about Joseph and David, we see this. Lying is a sin.
  • True leaders are defined by their characteristics. How do we build those characteristics in our lives? By the help of the Holy Spirit. God gives us grace and power to build those characteristics.
  • God is the most powerful being and He is the best leader too.

True leaders are teachable:

Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”

When we read the word of God and do not try to understand it, we are speaking of our own heart and not willing to learn. Proverb 5:12-13 – “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction. I have not obeyed  the voice of my teachers nor incline my ears to those who instructed me.” We all want to be taught by God. To become a good leader, we must have a teachable spirit. Nobody will be interested in investing their time in somebody who is not willing to learn.

An unteachable spirit will not listen to God. The problem is pride. Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man wise in His own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him.” We encounter people who are wise in their eyes, it could be us. It is true because pride stops a person from listening and from being taught. A proud heart brings an unteachable spirit. But God wants us to have a teachable spirit.

Two things that we need to ask God are:

  1. We need a spirit of submission. 1 Peter 5:5 – “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””
  2. We need to ask God for a mind to accept discipline and correction. Proverbs 13:18 – “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” God wants to discipline us so that we can become somebody who is honored.


  1. We are called to lead
  2. We are called to influence
  3. We are committed to learn from the lives of the OT leaders
  4. By applying here a little, there a little principle
  5. These men and women are commented by others and by God
  6. Leaders are defined by their characteristics
  7. True leaders are truly teachable
  8. The underlying cause of unteachable spirit is pride
  9. Ask God for a spirit of submission that accepts discipline and correction.

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