References: To Lead or Not To Lead?


How did we arrive at The Twenty Top Qualifiers for Successful Christian Leadership in America?

Committed, Competent, Confident, Courageous, Decisive, Effective Communicator, Entrepreneur, Excellent Character, Excellent Listener, Excellent Negotiator, Goal Setter, Helps Others Succeed, Inspiring Motivator, Life-Long Learner, Positive Attitude, Problem Solver, Risk Taker, Self-Aware, Team Builder, and Visionary. 

A quick search (in 2012) for Christian leadership books on results in 15,493 titles. Overkill? One might think so, but when we add in the 20,394 secular titles with ‘leading’ in their titles, 47,990 with ‘lead’, 53,972 with ‘leader’ and a whopping 71,745 with ‘leadership’, we’ve got a lot of reading to do when it comes to becoming a GREAT LEADER for Jesus! Taking a broad overview of the top-selling “Christian” books on leadership, we found 20 re-occurring themes that make up our list of qualifiers.

101 New Testament “Leadership” Words


There are 101 word references in the NIV for the nouns LEADERS (12), LEADER (0); the verbs LEAD (18), LEADS (17), & LED (39); the verb or adjective LEADING (13); or the noun LEADERSHIP (2).


In the Gospels (40), Acts (21), the remainder of the NT (40).

Total 101 times.


Leader (4), Leaders (5), Lead (14), Leads (14), Leading (19), Led (41), Leadership (0).  TOTAL=97 uses.  

BACK to the NIV. 101 Words.

101 words in the NIV, 97 in the NASV. Greek words that translate best into our English words of LEADER, LEADERS, LEAD, LEADS, LEADING, LED, and LEADERSHIP. The New Testament contains 27 separate books, 260 chapters, 7,959 verses, and depending on what translation you read, approximately 181,000 words.


The 101 ‘leadership’ words (in the NIV) represent .000558 per cent of the word content of the New Testament. And just in case you wondered what the most common English words used in the New Testament are, let me list the top six for you, based on a recent report using the English Standard Version. According to the ESV (another fairly accurate word for word translation like the NAS), of the 5,393 different words used in the New Testament, the number #1 entry is ‘say’ with 1,946 instances. #2 is ‘God’ with 1,343 entries. #3 is ‘come’ with 1,120; #4 is ‘all’ with 1,006; #5 is ‘Jesus’ with 964 entries; and #6 is ‘go’ with 749 occurrences.


First, let’s throw out all the neutral uses.

39 NEUTRAL (no aspect attached to people)

Gospels (7)  Jesus-broad is the road that leads to temptation, narrow is the road that leads to life Mt 7: 13-14; lead a donkey to water Lk 13:15; will lead (NAS-bring you) Peter where he doesn’t want to go Jn 21: 18;  Leaders (NAS-rulers) of the temple believing in Christ Jn 12: 42; Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Lk 18: 39; Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed.  Lk 23:32

Acts (12) blind Jewish sorcerer needs someone to lead (NAS-lead by the hand) Act 13: 11 “For,” said Peter(referencing Judas), “it is written in the book of Psalms, ” ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ” ‘May another take his place of leadership’ (NAS-place of office) Acts 1: 20;  Iron gate leading to city Act 12: 10;  leading city Act 16: 12; Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. Acts 5: 37; He(Moses) led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. Acts 7: 36; As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt–we don’t know what has happened to him!’ Acts 7: 40; The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Acts 8: 32; Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led (NAS= leading) him by the hand into Damascus. Acts 9: 8; And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. Acts 19: 26; “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?” Acts 21: 38; My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me. Acts 22: 11

NT (20) ambition to lead a quiet life  1Th 4: 11  Acts that lead (2x) to death Heb 6: 1 & Heb 9: 14  Sin will lead (3x) to death 1 Jn 5: 16 (2x) & v 17 (NAS=all 3x leading) Righteousness leading to holiness Rom 6:19  Repentance leading (NAS=leading) them to 2Tim 2:25  God’s kindness leads  Rom 2: 4  obedience leads to, Rom 6: 16 which leads to death Rom 6: 16  leads to holiness Rom 6: 22  leads to peace Rom 14: 19  Repentance leads (NAS=leading) to 2Cor 7:10  leads to debauchery Eph 5:18  truth leads to godliness Tit 1:1  sins leads (NAS=leading used 3x) to death 1 Jn 5:16; because your sorrow led you to repentance. 2 Cor 7:9; Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 2 Cor 11:29; Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? Heb 3:16


That leaves us with only 62 NT references!

Of the 62 people references LEADERS, LEAD, LEADS, LED, LEADING, or LEADERSHIP.

20 are in reference to GOD, JESUS or HOLY SPIRIT being the leader.


Gospels-(12) ‘lead (2x) us not into temptation’ Mt 6: 13, Lk 11: 4. “God ‘leads justice to victory” Mt 12: 20  Jesus leading (NAS=walking on ahead) His disciples Mk 10: 32  Jesus knows the sheep & leads them Jn 10: 3 God’s commands leads to (NAS=is) eternal life Jn 12: 50; Then Jesus was led (2X) by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  Matt 4: 1, Luke 4: 1; After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led (2x) them up a high mountain by themselves.  Matt 17:1, Mrk 9: 2; He (Jesus) took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” Mrk 8: 23; When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up His hands and blessed them. Lk 24: 50

Acts (1) The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, Acts 13: 17

NT-(7)  The law (OT) was set in place to lead (NAS=tutor) us Gal 3: 24  God will lead out of Egypt Heb 8: 9;  Jesus (the Lamb) will lead (NAS=guide) them to springs  Rev 7: 17  Christ leads us in triumphal procession 2 Cor 2: 14; because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Rom 8: 14; But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.  Gal 5:18: This is why it says: “When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men.” Eph 4:8


That now leaves us with 42 references.  Guess what?


People who do negative things or their leadership or leading is seen as negative or against the gospel.

References are mainly, Judas, Jewish synagogue leaders & civic & Roman government officials

Gospels-(21) Jesus “Am I leading (3x) (NAS=come out with) a rebellion?” Mt 26:55, Mk 14: 48, Lk 22: 52  Jesus “if a blind man leads (NAS=guide) a blind man” Mt 15:14, “if a blind man will lead a blind man” Lk 6: 39 Judas: will lead Jesus to be arrested Mk 14: 44. Herod & leading men of Galilee Mk 6: 21 Teachers of law & leaders (NAS=leading) among the people trying to kill Jesus Lk 19: 47 Judas leading (NAS=preceding) the team  Lk 22: 47; They bound him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor. Mt 27: 2; Then they led Him away to crucify him. Mt 27: 31; They bound Jesus, led Him away and handed him over to Pilate. Mrk 15: 1; The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.  Mrk 15: 16; And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him. Mrk 15: 20; The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  Lk 4: 5; The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. Lk 4:9; Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.  Lk 22: 54; At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.  Lk 22: 66; Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.23:1; As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. Lk 23: 26; Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor.  Jn 18: 28

Acts-(7)  Jewish leaders (NAS=rulers) acted in ignorance  Act 3: 17  Bad civic & Jewish leaders (NAS=rulers) in Iconium Act 14: 5  Jewish leaders (2x) (NAS=leading men) in Court Acts 25: 2, Acts 25: 5 Jewish leaders (NAS=leading men) in Rome Acts 28: 17  Civic leading men (NAS=same) in Pisidan Antioch Act 13:50 high ranking officers & civic leading men (NAS=prominent men) in Caesarea Act 25: 23

NT-(7) watch out for those who are trying to lead (2x) (NAS=deceive) you astray 1 Jn 2: 26, 1Jn 3: 7 Satan leads (NAS= deceives) the world astray Rev 12:9; You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 1 Cor 12:22; But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:3; The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. Gal 2:13; Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.  Rev 18: 23


That leaves us with only SEVEN POSITIVE NIV REFERENCES!

Only 7 times does the entire NT use the words LEADERS, LEAD, LEADS, LED, LEADING, or LEADERSHIP in referencing those who oversee God’s work in the church.


Seven times the New Testament uses the words leader, leaders, lead, leads, leading, led, or leadership in referencing something positive in the role a man or woman plays as he or she serves God and His people. Seven positive uses of the word ‘lead’ in approximately 181,000 NT words. .0000386 % of the time. The odds are getting bad here, folks.

  1. Acts 15: 22. Here the Greek word ‘hgeomai’ (#2233: leader) is used. The apostles & elders in Jerusalem sent 2 leaders (Silas & Judas Barsabbas) out with a letter to other believers. (NAS=leading men among the brethren)
  2. Galatians 2: 2. Here, two Greek words ‘hosea’ (#3588: those) and ‘dokeo’ (#1380: of reputation) are used. An indirect reference by Paul to church leaders in Jerusalem. (NAS=those who were of reputation)
  3. Hebrews 13: 7. Once again, the Greek word ‘hgeomai’ (#2233: leader) is used. “Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you.” (NAS=those who led you)
  4. Hebrews 13: 17. Again, ‘hgeomai’ (#2233: leader) is used. Obey your leaders, submit to their authority.” (NAS=leaders)
  5. Hebrews 13: 24. For a third time in one paragraph, ‘hgeomai’ (#2233: leader) is used.Greet all your leaders and all God’s people.” (NAS=leaders)
  6. Romans 12: 8. Here, the Greek word ‘proistemi’ (#4291=to protect, guard, or care for) is used. The word is placed in a list of seven gifts: prophesy, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to needs of others, showing mercy, and leadership (NAS=he who leads).
  7. Romans 15: 18. Here, the Greek word ‘katergazomai’ (#2716=to perform, accomplish or achieve) is used. Paul says he’s leading the Gentiles to obey God. (NAS=what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in…)

If you are, indeed, one who needs more in the way of study on this subject, email me and ask me for a copy of my 71 pages of study notes that went into the development of this material. Marty Boller