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Liar, deceiver, coward, adulterer, disloyal, and murderer. Any of those traits in one’s CV is a kiss of death for a leader. That is why it is astounding that precisely those adjectives can describe the greatest leaders in the Bible. Some of those who have not read the Bible may think that the famous men and women of the Bible are blameless. They are scandalized when they read their stories narrated in the Scriptures.

Abraham, the father of Israel, denied that Sarah was his wife out of fear of being killed. Jacob, who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel, deceived his brother Esau out of his firstborn blessing. And this is probably the one of the least of his manifold sins! Moses, who led the exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, was a killer and was slow of speech. David, the most famous king of the Bible, was both a murderer and an adulterer. The apostle Peter, who was the prime leader of the early church, denied he ever knew the Lord and that three times.

Why did God choose such obviously flawed characters to lead His people? I believe it is to remind us that, just like salvation, leading His people is purely based on His grace alone. That is, God appoints leaders who are sinners like us. They have been saved not because of their goodness, but because of God’s provision in the Lord Jesus. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3).

Following this theme of grace, God calls broken men and women to lead His people. By the transforming power of the Spirit, a proud and cowardly Peter became the bold leader of the primitive church. Similarly, the deceived and violent Saul metamorphosized to be the tender and tireless Paul. These men are an encouragement to us as we feel our inadequacy to lead. God can likewise use broken vessels like us to lead HIs people.

While not perfect, the leaders of old also remind us of the need to repent of our sins. After falling into the double sin of murder and adultery, we find the heartbroken David expressing his confession and repentance in Psalm 51.

Of course, the above does not mean that Christian leaders do not exert effort to improve themselves. On the contrary, growth in graces is a mark of all true believers in Christ. We must seek to do our best in all things as good stewards of Christ (Colossians 3:23; Philippians 2:12,13).

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