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Lessons in leadership: A look at the book of Genesis

by Church Times

By Oyewole O. Sarumi | Ph.D.

The Book of Genesis, the foundational text of our Christian faith, lays the groundwork for understanding leadership as a divinely ordained concept. It chronicles the creation narrative, the fall of humanity, and the establishment of God’s covenant with chosen lineages.
Efforts are being made by New Age Reformation Clergies and theologians to discredit the account of Genesis, especially chapters one to eleven are mere illusions based on evolution and archaeological researchers’ discoveries. However, my focus here is on lessons on leadership, probably, we’ll examine that issue in another piece to debunk the debate whether the earth is 6000+ or about  13 billion years old based on archaeological sources.
Now, embedded within the stories in the book of Genesis are valuable lessons on leadership, highlighting essential skills and portraying the consequences of both effective and ineffective leadership for our learning and instruction.
Let’s examine some characters in the book and their demonstrable leadership skills:

1. God: The Model of Sovereign Leadership (Genesis 1-2)

The opening chapters of Genesis depict God as the ultimate leader. He exercises sovereignty, creating the universe with spoken word (Genesis 1:3) and demonstrating visionary leadership by establishing a plan and order (Genesis 1:2).  God’s leadership is also characterized by wisdom as He assigns roles and functions within creation (Genesis 1:26). God is the ultimate leader to learn from, and this book shows that He is always in control, but have his created beings space to exercise their rights, wisdom, power, and proficiency in solving problems.

2. Adam and Eve: Stewardship and the Price of Disobedience (Genesis 2-3)

Adam and Eve were entrusted with the care of creation (Genesis 2:15), they demonstrate the importance of **stewardship** in leadership. In this domain, Adam was the appointed leader on whose responsibilities were placed. He was given the power to name all the animals and even gave Eve to the first woman on earth.
Such was the responsibility upon him, but he was not up to the mark expected, as he surrendered his leadership to Eve. The question had been asked in various theological forums – where was Adam when the serpent visited and talked to Eve? Abdicated leadership seems to have been with us since creation!
However, their disobedience (Genesis 3:6) highlights the destructive consequences of poor decision-making and a lack of moral compass. This narrative emphasizes the leader’s responsibility to uphold ethical standards and be available to the team when necessary.

3. Noah: Faithful Leadership in Crisis (Genesis 6-9)

The then world was facing impending judgment, and Noah embodied faithfulness (Genesis 6:8) and obedience (Genesis 6:22) by following God’s instructions to build the ark when it was illogical and had never happened before.  He demonstrates crisis leadership, providing safety and direction during a time of great upheaval.  His story emphasizes the importance of resilience, clear communication, and the ability to inspire trust during challenging circumstances.
His leadership involves planning (Genesis 6:14-16), resource management (stockpiling supplies), and the ability to inspire trust in those who follow him (Genesis 7:7). Noah’s story emphasizes the importance of vision and determination in navigating crises.

4. Abraham: Leading Through Faith and Obedience (Genesis 12-25)

Abraham, the father of many nations” (Gen. 17:4), embodies the call to leadership. He is a pivotal figure in the leadership narrative. He exemplifies faith-based leadership**, trusting God’s call to leave his homeland (Genesis 12:1-4). His journey highlights the importance of vision, following God’s promises despite uncertainty (Genesis 15:5-6). Abraham also demonstrates conflict resolution skills, managing disagreements with his nephew Lot (Genesis 13:8-9).
Yet, Abraham’s leadership journey is not without flaws.
However, his decisions regarding Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 16, 21) illustrate the importance of balanced judgment and the potential consequences of emotional leadership.
From another perspective, his decisions concerning Hagar and Sarah (Gen. 16) and Isaac and Ishmael (Gen. 21) reveal the complexities of leadership, including navigating ethical dilemmas and managing conflict.

5. Isaac: Leading Through Continuity and Integrity (Genesis 24-27)

Isaac’s leadership style emphasizes continuity, faithfully carrying on the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 26:2-4). He demonstrates integrity by resisting deception in securing a wife (Genesis 24).  However, his favoritism towards Esau reveals the dangers of bias in leadership (Genesis 25:28). While his story is less dramatic, it highlights the importance of continuity in leadership. Isaac carries on the traditions and values established by his father, ensuring the legacy of the Abrahamic covenant.

6. Jacob: Deception and Reconciliation in Leadership (Genesis 27-36)

Jacob’s leadership is marked by cunning and deception (Genesis 27), highlighting the dangers of unethical behaviour in leadership.  His journey back home in the latter part of his life also emphasizes the importance of reconciliation, seeking forgiveness from his brother Esau (Genesis 33:3-4).  Jacob’s leadership teaches the value of adaptability and resourcefulness (Genesis 30), as he navigates challenging situations especially when under Laban, his nephew and father-in-law.
I must state that his leadership journey also includes personal growth and reconciliation. He wrestles with God (Genesis 32:24-32), experiences a transformation in character, and ultimately seeks forgiveness from his brother Esau (Genesis 33).  This highlights the importance of humility and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes for effective leadership.

7. Joseph: Forgiveness, Vision, and Crisis Management (Gen. 37-50):

Joseph’s story portrays leadership through forgiveness and vision.  Betrayed by his brothers, he demonstrates remarkable forgiveness upon his rise to power (Gen. 45).  His leadership during the famine (Gen. 41) showcases his ability to plan for the future and manage crises through strategic foresight.  Joseph exemplifies the importance of vision, strategic planning, and the ability to inspire others during challenging times.
The Book of Genesis offers a rich array of leadership styles, both positive and negative. From God’s sovereign rule to the consequences of disobedience, it provides valuable lessons for aspiring leaders.  Key takeaways include the importance of:
Sovereignty and Vision: Setting a clear direction and purpose for the group.
Stewardship: Taking responsibility for the well-being of those entrusted to your care.
Faithfulness and Obedience:  Upholding principles and commitments.
Crisis Management:  Leading effectively during challenging times.
Clear Communication and Trust-Building:  Inspiring and motivating others.
Balanced Judgment:  Making sound decisions based on reason and integrity.
Continuity and Integrity: Building upon the legacy of previous leaders while maintaining ethical standards.
Adaptability and Resourcefulness: Effectively navigating changing circumstances.
By studying the leadership examples within Genesis, we gain a deeper understanding of the qualities and skills necessary for effective leadership.  This knowledge can be applied to various contexts, ensuring leaders inspire, guide, and empower those they serve.
Blessings 💯❤️

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1 comment

Adigwe Samuel May 18, 2024 - 8:17 pm

Very good.
Thank you


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