Why Hard Work is ONLY a Quality of a Leader

March 17, 2014

One of the important qualities of a leader is hard work. Being a hard worker does not make someone a leader, but it is an important quality of a leader.

Why Hard Work is ONLY a Quality of a Leader

Photo Credit: normalityrelief

In today’s post I will examine Proverbs 12:24 and look at the topic of leadership and hard work. Proverbs 12:24 (NLT) declares:

Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.

When examining the Hebrew text of this verse I see a few additional things here:

1. The words translated as “hard work” have a more literal meaning of “diligence” or “assiduous.” The New Living Translation (NLT) translates this adjective as “hard work” which appears to be a relevant term. Therefore being a hard worker in this verse is done by being diligent.

Regarding the word “diligence” Allen Ross in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states, “Diligence at work determines success and advancement. To put it bluntly, the diligent rise to the top and the lazy sink to the bottom. At the bottom they may be forced to work as though they owed it” (v. 6, p. 124).

Sid Buzzell in The Bible Knowledge Commentary provides a helpful explanation of this: “The idea that a diligent person will rule may not mean that he becomes an official, but that he is in charge of whatever his situation may be” (v. 1, p. 932).

2. The word translated as “leader” is a verb that literally means “to rule,” “have dominion” or “be entitled.” The NLT translates this as “become a leader” in an accurate way since this verb appears to in the future time frame (incomplete). 1

To help you better understand the meaning of Proverbs 12:24’s declaration that if you work hard you become a leader, here are two other verses that expand on this topic:

A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. – Proverbs 12:11

Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people. – Proverbs 22:29

Leaders work hard! However, just because someone works hard does not make her a leader. Hard work is a quality only of a leader, not the quality of a leader.

Why is hard work one of the qualities of a leader? When you work hard you become a leader because:

  1. Leaders are action oriented.
  2. People want to follow someone that works hard and performs well.
  3. People will follow someone when they know she is going somewhere.
  4. Hard work often involves the work of others, therefore others will follow you in order to work with you.
  5. Supervisors point to hard workers as leaders because hard work is what supervisors want.

People who do not work hard are not leaders. Have you ever known a leader who did not work hard? People who do not work hard are not leaders.

However, there might be someone with a position of leadership who does not work hard. If that person is in a position of leadership and does not work hard I doubt that she is a true leader who has willing followers.

The essence of today’s blog post and Proverbs 12:24 is that a leader is a hard worker.

Question: Why do you think hard work is a quality of a leader? 


  1. There are a few different ways to translate imperfect stative Qal verbs in Hebrew. Based on the fact that this is a stative verb (involving a condition or state of being) in the imperfect tense (shown by the form of the verb in the Hebrew text) this is something to happen in the future (as incomplete).

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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