Insights on Leadership from the Book of Proverbs

February 24, 2014 — 1 Comment

As wisdom literature the book of Proverbs provides succinct and poetic biblical advice. Most of the proverbs are from King Solomon but there are other proverbs from King Lemuel and Agur.

In this blog post I will share six verses from Proverbs related to leadership.

Insights on Leadership from the Book of Proverbs

Photo Credit: Jake Wasdin

In the book of Proverbs the word leader or leadership occurs six times. This is based on the New Living Translation and the NLT Comprehensive Concordance.

1. Proverbs 11:14

Without wise leadership a nation fails; there is safety in having many advisers.

This proverb emphasizes the necessity of a leader to have a team around him. He needs a group of people who share his values but also offer different strengths and perspectives on the work he is attempting to lead.

This proverb also shows that leadership is essential to a nation succeeding. Without wise leadership a nation will fail. Sadly, most people share the belief that America is slowly failing because of poor leadership.

2. Proverbs 12:24

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

Anyone who works among other people will realize that one of the ways to stand out as a leader is to simply work hard.

Working hard does not make you a leader, but it is one quality of a leader. Working hard sets you apart from most of the people in the workforce because it is rare and it is always appreciated by supervisors. Therefore, hard work is a prerequisite to leadership but not necessarily something that will establish someone as a leader. Hard work must be one of many qualities that a leader possess.

3. Proverbs 17:26

It is wrong to punish the godly for being good or to flog leaders for being honest.

Sadly, an honest leader sometimes receives punishment because of his godliness.

This is because American culture has a “do whatever it takes attitude” where people will do anything to get ahead. By “do anything,” I mean that they will lie, cheat, steal, deceive, and make enemies if it means a person can gain money, wealth, or power.

A leader who is honest and godly sometimes receives punishment because of his character.

4. Proverbs 24:7

Wisdom is too lofty for fools. Among leaders at the city gate, they [fools] have nothing to say.

This proverb is stating that a leader’s wisdom can put social and intellectual distance between himself and a so-called “fool.” Because of that distance they do not share common values, interests, or knowledge.

Even though it is important for a leader to be friendly to everyone and to work hard to find common ground with people, there is truth in the fact that a wise leader and a fool might find it difficult to build a relationship.

5. Proverbs 28:2

When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.

How many times have you seen this proverb exemplified in foreign countries under ruthless and cruel dictators? Leaders who are corrupt are only able to continue to lead because of their hold on power and their ability to keep others from getting power. Even if the people of the country barely survive and experience inhumane living conditions the leader still holds on to control.

However, a wise and knowledgeable leader brings stability to his nation. He is a man of character and vision. He does what is honest and best for the people of his nation while also looking into the future to plan and prepare for what lies ahead.

6. Proverbs 31:23

Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with other civic leaders.

One of the many ways that a leader grows and cares for himself is sharing life with other leaders.

Both male and female leaders need peers with whom they can talk, spend time, and share life. This might be a leader who plays golf with friends every Friday afternoon or some leaders who get together for coffee every week to talk about life and their work.

Concluding Thoughts on the Book of Proverbs and Leadership

My passion and love for God’s inspired and sufficient Scripture causes me to believe these six proverbs are relevant truth in the life of a leader. They offer insight and help to a leader who seeks to lead biblically.

Question: What other wisdom about leadership would you like to share? 

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Christopher Scott is a Bible student and leader. He has eight years of experience leading volunteers and running nonprofit programs. He holds a bachelor's degree in Christian Ministry & Leadership from Fresno Pacific University and is currently working on a master's degree in Christian Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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  • Donna Farrer

    The Bible is a great leadership tool. People don’t look at it as a book, but I find it very useful outside of my beliefs. I found a great leadership book on I guess health. Become An Elite Mental Athlete by David Silverstein, davesdots.com. He talks about getting your mind and bod working to higher levels and that will lead to being a better leader. I think the spiritual aspect is just as important as well. When things in your life are squared away it does trickle down into everything you do.