Leadership has many traits. One of the traits that characterizes godly leadership is that of a good influence. If God has placed you in a classroom, you hold a position that is to be managed with Biblical principles. We should approach such leadership with a God-given vision of what can be accomplished when we are the type of leader God intended for us to be.
A few years ago, I was at the Ponce De Leon Inlet in Florida and an old tugboat that is dry-docked next to the lighthouse there caught my attention. The name of the boat was FD Russell. Captain Frank D. Russell built the boat in 1938, and it plied the waters off the coast of Florida for five decades. The interesting part of the story is that while Frank was taking wood shop class in high school, he decided that his project that year would be to build a ship’s wheel. Years later, Frank and his father built the tugboat around that same stately ship’s wheel. All those years, Frank kept his vision for the ship that would one day be completed around that wheel, and he finally realized his dream as the tugboat was completed. A good teacher will keep in mind his vision for the students he is teaching. They may not appear to be nearing completion (James 1:4, "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing"), but with some prayer, encouragement, and godly direction, they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. That realization should inspire us to improve our leadership.
There are many great leaders in the Bible. We often look at their lives to learn from and exemplify their godly character. There are also wrong examples from which we can learn. Let’s consider the example of one such man as we prepare for the next year of service in the classroom.
The book of Third John tells us of a man named Diotrephes. From his poor example, we can examine some positive leadership characteristics we should have present in our lives if we desire to have a Christ-like influence.
First of all, a godly teacher is a servant. We see in Third John chapter nine that Diotrephes desired to have the preeminence. A good servant knows his place and is not concerned about receiving recognition.
Second, a godly teacher is teachable. We are told in Third John chapter nine that Diotrephes did not receive John’s writing. I read about a child who came home from school after his first day at kindergarten. His mother asked, "What did you learn today?" The child replied, "Not enough. I have to go back tomorrow." Do you have the attitude that you already know it all, or do you have a spirit of receiving correction? The truth is that if a teacher does not have a teachable spirit, it can sometimes be absent in the life of his students.
Third, a godly teacher is just. A father is commanded in the Bible not to provoke his child to wrath. This is a good command to follow for every adult who works with children. Diotrephes was a man who unjustly used malicious words against the church leaders. The tongue is often the enemy of justice. Do you speak too quickly? Do you allow your feelings to determine your actions? Let justice control your actions.
Fourth, a godly teacher is content. The great enemy of contentment is comparison. Second Corinthians 10:12 warns us, “But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Simply stated, Diotrephes was malcontent. As a result, he was a detriment to the work of the Lord.
Last, a godly teacher is hospitable. To be hospitable requires a humble spirit and a servant’s spirit. Perhaps that is why Diotrephes was not hospitable. We read in Third John ten, “Neither doth he himself receive the brethren.” Could it be that he thought too highly of himself? Do not be so busy meeting your own needs that you miss the opportunity to serve others. Joseph in the Old Testament had a wonderful spirit of serving. Even Pharaoh saw a different spirit in this young leader. Genesis 41:38, “And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?”
How is your influence? Is it expanding? Is it what the Lord wants it to be? Let’s take inventory of our leadership characteristics and determine if we need to stock up on some godly, leadership characteristics before the school year begins. Remember, if we keep a vision of what God wants our students to be, we will understand better why we should develop these characteristics in our lives.