20 Leadership Lessons from the Life of Gideon


In recent years there has been a raft of material written concerning leadership principles, strategies and know-how. However, I remain firmly convinced that the best lessons are still drawn from the instruction and narrative of scripture. Of course there is a huge benefit from observing and in some cases emulating fruitful practice from elsewhere. There is of course also a danger from observing and in some cases, blindly emulating what may only appear to be fruitful practice from elsewhere! My point is this; unless that practice has been itself been shaped by the truth of God’s word, in our eagerness to ‘perform’ we find ourselves importing what is in effect pragmatism over principle. If this is the case and given the equation that it is only possible to ‘reap what we sow’, we find ourselves discovering that we receive a ‘return’ which is distinct to the one we anticipated!

With this in mind, when recently asked to lead an away day for leaders, I sought to understand and apply ‘lessons in leadership’ from the life of Gideon. The time of Gideon is brilliantly described in the last verse of the book of Judges. We read, ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit’ (Jdg 21:25). With this statement in mind I was shocked with regard to the similarity of Gideon’s day and our own; making contextualisation is a whole lot easier than it ought to be!

Here then are my ‘Twenty Lessons on Leadership, from the Life of Gideon’ for your perusal!

  1. Leaders are chosen and called by God (Jdg 6:11-16)
  2. Leaders may be called and must be sustained by prayer (Jdg 6:7-10)
  3. Leaders carry a prophetic promise (Jdg 6:12)
  4. Leaders carry a prophetic mandate (Jdg 6:14)
  5. Leaders may still have their doubts
    i) Gideon doubted God would choose him (Jdg 6:15)
    ii) Gideon doubted it was really God who was talking to him (Jdg 6:17)
    iii) Gideon doubted that God could use him (Jdg 6:36-40)
  6. Leaders understand the importance of worship (Jdg 6:17-32)
  7. Leaders will inevitably be tested (Jdg 6:25-32)
  8. Leaders are not controlled by the ‘fear of men’ (Jdg 6:25-32)
  9. Leaders are anointed by the Holy Spirit (Jdg 6:33-34)
  10. Leaders are called to call others to a BIG vision (Jdg 6:35)
  11. Leaders attract followers (Jdg 7:1-3)
  12. Leaders continue to listen to God  (Jdg 7:4-7)
  13. Leaders understand God’s timing (Jdg 7:9-15)
  14. Leaders have gifts of administration (or work with those that do!) (Jdg 7:16)
  15. Leaders lead by example (Jdg 7:17)
  16. Leaders communicate vision clearly (Jdg 7: 18)
  17. Leaders address opposition decisively (Jdg 7:19- 8:21)
    i) Godly leaders address external opposition
    ii) Godly leaders address internal opposition
  18. Leaders are concerned with the Kingdom not their empire (Jdg 8:22-23)
  19. Leaders still ‘screw up’ (Jdg 8:24-27)
  20. Leaders are a blessing to those around them (Jdg 8:28)

Although time and space restrict me from commenting upon any of these lessons, I do encourage you to fill in the gaps, not only as a means to teach others, but in order to be strengthened yourself! After doing so, I would be thrilled to hear whether I have overlooked anything or miss-represented the text in any way!

I also encourage you to ensure that you develop as the leader God calls you to be, by ‘digging deep’ in Scripture and ensuring that your ministry is shaped by the truths it reveals.


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