I think of a good leader as a teacher with a switch; as someone who stands as an example to his followers and then expects them to follow that example- not because of a title, but because he’s earned that much respect. But a leader is also willing to reprimand the people under him for their errors or hubris or any other fault that may undermine the group as a whole.

One example of a good leader would be Ralph from Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a novel about a marooned group of English schoolboys. While not a good leader in every sense, he was still principally good in that his main concern was the well-being of those under him. Ralph’s priorities revolved around finding a way home for himself and his people, and ensuring the boys’ society didn’t devolve in the meantime. Even though he was underprepared and overburdened, Ralph still showed many traits of a good leader; he did his best to stay composed and avoid impulsiveness. He listened to others’ advice and acted on it when he felt it would help. He tried to present an example of maturity for the other boys to follow. While they were times his rule was largely ineffective due to his young age or the growing hysteria of the marooned boys, ultimately, it was Ralph’s leadership that enabled some of the boys to return home.

In contrast to Ralph’s good and well-intentioned leadership, there was Jack’s. Jack ruled not by right or by example, but by intimidation. He used the promise of fun to woo some of the boys away from Ralph’s society, and then the promise of pain to keep them from leaving his own. In some ways Jack was a capable leader: he wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions or give orders, and he was always the first to volunteer for dangerous work. However, these qualities were offset by Jack’s startling lack of compassion for others, his debauchery, and the way his temper dominated his thinking. It was Jack’s flimsy rule and selfishness that led to the eventual downfall of the boys’ society.

Of the two examples, of course I would want to say I’m more like Ralph, but honestly the subject is too personal to view objectively. I’ve heard so many vastly differing opinions on a single person’s leadership skills that I know better than to think the question of whether somebody is a good leader or not can be anything other than subjective. So with as little subjectivity as possible, I would say in some cases I make a decent leader and in other instances I shouldn’t even try. I’ve heard that my best friend and I were more the leaders of our team than the actual captain, but I also know that I can be stubborn and write people off almost as an instinct.

Titus 1:7 says that a good leader “…must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine (there’s the teacher part) and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers (and there’s the part about carrying a switch).”