• Mike Ayers

Distinctives Part 3: Competence

The Practices of the Leader


Psalm 78:72 states, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Just as integrity of heart (i.e. character) is vital to biblical leadership, so are skillful hands (i.e. competence). Yet in the Scripture, skills are not mere cosmetics to be put on and taken off, nor are they disconnected from the leader’s character. Rather, they are congruent complements to his or her inner person, and as such, they allow the leader to manifest God’s calling in the world. Imagine Moses without the skill of delegating to others (Exodus 18:13–27), Nehemiah without the ability to manage projects and people (Nehemiah 4:13–23), or Paul without the skill of communicating spiritual truth to his readers (Colossians 1:28–29). These competencies provided for the success of their God-given callings and were used mightily by the Lord in their particular leadership contexts. In this sense, outer competence is related to inner character.


Not every leader has every skill. Students of leadership must come to understand both the skills common to effective, Christlike leadership and the skills unique to who they are. To do the former, students must discover from God’s Word common competencies of effective leaders. To do the latter, one must give attention to discovering his or her spiritual gifts, natural competencies, unique personality, and God-given passions.