For many people, the concepts of running a business and honoring God could not be further apart. However, I don’t believe that to be true. Learning to live a life consistent with biblical principles was the foundation that built my business and continues each day to teach me how to run a business with biblical leadership. The concept of biblical leadership has taught me how to be a strong leader that employees and colleagues admire.
I feel so strongly about the importance of biblical leadership that I have made it the backbone of one of our core values at Hartman: “We honor God in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”
Today, I aim to convince you of the importance of running your business in a way that honors God. Continue reading to learn how you can lead with biblical leadership.
What is Biblical Leadership?
No excuses, total accountability and always keeping your word — these are more than just words of encouragement. They are how I and other leaders at Hartman have built a company culture that honors God and consistently achieves excellence.
This is the very foundation of biblical leadership, which I define as using your moral character and competence to lead your team through personal sacrifice, selflessness and service, always with God’s own biblical principles steering the ship.
One of the defining principles of a biblical leader is the ability to lead as Jesus Christ would. But what does leading like Christ actually look like? For the answers to that question, I turn to Romans 12: 9-13 , which says, in part:
|“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
This parallels well the importance of recognizing individual team members’ talents and abilities and how they all work together. Continuing the theme of team leadership, the verse says:
|“Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
The Gospel must dictate how we treat one another — that goes for every area of our lives, including our lives at work.
Employees Appreciate Biblical Leadership
Your team will respect and appreciate your efforts to be a biblical leader for them. That is evidenced by these lovely thoughts two Hartman employees recently shared on my birthday:
Thank you Mr. Hartman for being the trailblazer you are. I appreciate your candidness and transparency. You see greatness in people before they ever realize it in themselves. Sometimes, it feels overwhelming to be thrown into the deep end, but you let God lead your intuition, which can never be wrong! Thank you for your faith, confidence, and consistent words of affirmation.
Patient and compassionate but demanding and goal-driven, Hartman, you lead by example for all of us to follow. You show us how to lead a fulfilling life with fruit that will last forever. I will never forget the day you spoke with a father and son in my office, walked the boy through a prayer of salvation, then sent the father home with materials to mentor his son. You always have your eye on things above while managing things here and now.
Biblical leadership builds strong relationships with your employees, but to truly lead biblically, you have to have an understanding of what the Bible actually says about leadership.
In John 15:15-17, Jesus speaks with his disciples about the importance of believing in and following him — that those who do this will be blessed with communication and support directly from him. This is a standout moment in which Jesus speaks to his followers with great transparency.
But what does this teach us about biblical leadership? It shows us that transparency is critical to leading as Christ leads. Being transparent with your team helps them understand the bigger, more important picture than the simple tasks placed in front of them.
At Hartman, we use a workplace leadership curriculum for Christian executives called C12. Page five of last November’s C12 study offered an enlightening definition of transparency:
“Moreover, a lack of clarity and alignment will likely cause our faith-driven organizations to fall short of our greater purpose. As the gears of production turn, we often mistake busyness for effectiveness. What good is productivity if it isn’t advancing our organization’s overarching, long-term mission and vision? When everything seems important or urgent, clearly defined and openly shared goals focus people on what matters most.”
Make clear your company’s goals and share them openly. That’s how you lead with transparency as Christ exemplified.
Proverbs 22:29 discusses the value of skills:
|“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”
Skills learned and applied with dedication will bring you to the highest level — while it may not be a literal king, you can still reach the height of your profession with dedication to your skills. The same is true for your employees, they deserve the chance to live out this biblical principle. As a leader, you should be there to enable them.
It is one of the duties of biblical leadership to enable employees’ self-development, whether that comes in the form of soft skills development seminars or college coursework on specific hard skills. One can only be skilled in their work when properly taught, mentored, and supported.
Luke 6:39 may be one of the most famous Bible verses about leadership:
|“He also told them this parable: ‘Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
Jesus taught this parable to warn, in part, against the error of judging another. The verse makes a proverbial connection between judgment of others and being like a person who cannot see, leading another person who cannot see.
But there’s a wider meaning here: Leaders who blindly fumble into the future will ultimately lead their teams astray — perhaps into the proverbial pit. To avoid this pitfall, set clear and actionable goals for your entire organization and every team within it; this keeps your employees engaged in the mission.
1 Timothy 3:7
In this verse, God teaches Paul the requirements to become a church elder — a high position. Reputation with others plays an important role here:
|“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
Applying this verse to biblical leadership in the modern workplace, we can take the “devil’s trap” to mean any number of failures or even moral issues that might crop up, but “reputation” requires no metaphor to place in a modern-day context. To be a biblical leader, you have to have a good reputation.
That means trustworthiness and integrity are among the most important qualities you should strive to not only achieve but display for your team. This reputation will spark trust and, in turn, loyalty from your team members, and that is more valuable than almost anything in the context of leadership. To lead, you need the trust of your team, and you get that trust by being of trustworthy reputation.
In Colossians 3:14, Paul teaches the Colossians about the redemption that can only come through Jesus Christ. One of the highest virtues, he says, is love for one another:
|“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
In other words, love is more important than any other virtue you can think of: patience, diligence, humility and even charity. That’s saying a lot.
It’s a requirement of biblical leadership that love be placed at the center of the leader’s organization. Love for one another is how teams bond together in true unity, you need unity to move forward and achieve your company’s goals.
Every person in your workplace is unique, but that should present no problem for the important goal of unity through love for one another. Love the differences and be kind and thoughtful through the inevitable disputes.
Biblical Principles to Everyday Leadership
I am a big fan of Ken Eldred’s book The Integrated Life. Among many insights from this book is one that has stuck with me for a long time: You don’t have to compartmentalize your work life and spiritual life. Many people assume you do have to do that, largely because they see the goals of spiritual life and work life as opposingly different. To that, Mr. Eldred responds as follows:
“What if the real goal of business were more noble than profit maximization? What if we could see our everyday work as having spiritual value? What if we could approach it as ministry? What if it were our calling, a calling as high as that of a pastor or missionary? What if God cared deeply about our work and wanted to be involved? What if we could even partner with him in our business? That’s the paradigm of work and faith that forms the basis of integration.”
Biblical values — and, by extension, biblical leadership — are not roadblocks to professional growth and success. On the contrary, they should be guideposts that help you get from where you are to where you want to be.
It is well said in Philippians 4:13:
|“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Living your faith at church is critically important, but I believe we are called to do more. We are called to live our faith throughout the millions of moments that make up our lives, and many of those moments occur at work.
Biblical Leadership: Living Your Faith in the Workplace
Galatians 5: 22-23 says it better than I ever could:
|“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
These are the virtues, principles and actions we are directed both in Galatians and throughout the Bible to live out in our whole lives — not just parts of our lives. “It’s just business” isn’t a good enough excuse — how we comport ourselves as leaders in the workplace should be a direct reflection of the teachings of the Bible. That is biblical leadership, which we should all strive to achieve. This is one of the founding principles of Hartman Income REIT and always will be.
To learn more about leadership in the workplace, check out my blog: Achieving Excellence in the Workplace: Building Your Organization’s Leadership.