Charles Spurgeon on Leadership (5): Twelve Lessons on Character

1. Authentic leaders exhibit an uncompromising standard of moral character. It is no coincidence that Spurgeon’s legacy as a Christian leader is due in large measure to the fact that he exhibited steadfastly the highest moral conduct throughout his life.

2. The early development of character is crucial to the moral con­stitution of a leader. Under the training and tutelage of godly Puritan grandparents, the foundation of Spurgeon’s character was laid, and the seed was sown that was in later years to bring forth an abundant harvest.

3. A leader demonstrates consistency in the moral conduct of his personal and public life. Throughout his extended ministry, Spurgeon’s life evidenced such consistency. James Douglas wrote in his biography of Spurgeon, “He was great as a man . . . great in private with God, and great in public with his fellow men.”

4. The most effective moral leadership is by example, not by edict. Spurgeon championed the cause for authentic leaders to exhibit an un­compromising standard of moral character. He wrote, “God help us so to live that we may be safe examples to our flocks.”

5. The model of godliness exhibited by a Christian leader challenges others to follow Christ through the testimony of the leader’s life. People are drawn to Christ when they see a leader live what he pro­fesses. Spurgeon was instrumental in leading thousands of people to faith through his ministry.

6. The degree to which a leader is trusted will determine the degree of his influence upon his followers. Spurgeon wrote, “Let us aspire to saintliness of spirit and character. I am persuaded that the greatest power we can get over our fellow-men is the power which comes of consecration and holiness.”

7. Leaders will experience temptation like anyone else, but the dif­ference lies in how they respond to such temptation. Spurgeon’s secret to overcoming sinful temptations was his daily personal relationship to Christ. Through his unwavering commitment, strong convictions, and disciplined lifestyle, Spurgeon’s character was avowedly consistent with the faith he professed.

8. The responsibility of leadership demands constant vigilance re­garding one’s conduct. Spurgeon realized the perilous effect that im­moral behavior could have on kingdom efforts: “We have need of very vigorous piety, because our danger is so much greater than that of oth­ers.”

9. Leaders who succumb to moral failure will find it difficult to lead effectively again. Spurgeon lamented, “Alas, the open beard of reputa­tion once shorn is hard to grow again. Open immorality, in most cases, however deep the repentance, is a fatal sign that ministerial graces were never in the man’s character.”

10. Integrity is a core determination of true leadership. A leader with in­tegrity does the right things the right way for the right reason. Spurgeon charged, “Dear brethren, we must acquire certain moral and theological faculties and habits, as well as put aside their opposites. He will never do much for God who has not integrity of spirit.”

11. Self-discipline/self-control makes up “the price tag of leadership.” Spurgeon took costly stands, which reflected his moral and theological principles based on his biblical conviction that “The highest moral character must be sedulously maintained.”

The personal characteristics of a leader bear witness to the last­ing influence of that leader. Spurgeon testified, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered. Carve your name on hearts, and not on marble.