What does it mean to lead? What makes a person a leader? Is it the ability to take charge of a situation and tell others what to do? Is a leader the coach who ensures it’s his way or the highway? Is leadership as a player based on talent or seniority?

Are some people just born to lead and others just born to follow?

To those who aspire to lead, or to those upon whom leadership is thrust, the Bible offers clear guidance. Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder or guess about how God feels leaders should operate.

One piece of advice comes in Proverbs 28:16–“A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.”

“A leader”–Anyone with influence over others. Whether you’re a player, coach, or parent, you just might be a leader, with or without the title people recognize.

“Who is a great oppressor”–We all know this type. They have to be first. It has to be about them and their ideas. They have to be right. You don’t dare cross them.

“Lacks understanding”–The self-focused leader not only doesn’t understand the essence of leadership, but his pride will cause him trouble in all areas of life.

“He who hates unjust gain”–This might seem like an odd contrast with an oppressive leader, but the point is that great leaders despise anything that is gained by means outside of an others-focused mentality.

“Will prolong his days”–You want to last as a leader? Make it about other people.

Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate example of an others-focused leader. You emptied yourself, humbly becoming a man and enduring a torturous death for sinners who despise you. Change my heart and make me the kind of leader you are. Amen.