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Simple leadership essentials

David Epps's picture

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books on leadership. While I make no claim to be an expert on the subject, I have had the opportunity to serve in various positions of leadership over the years.

To those who aspire to be leaders, I submit the following as necessary essentials:

1. Understand and submit to authority. Authority is everywhere. It cannot be avoided. It cannot be ignored. Authority is present in the family, schools, places of employment, the church, the government, the military, society, and in nearly every organization.

A Catholic priest once said to a group of evangelical pastors who were curious about the vow of celibacy, “Celibacy is not the most difficult vow I made at my ordination ... the most difficult vow to keep is my vow to be obedient to my bishop.”

When I was a 20-year-old youth worker in a Methodist Church, I was under the authority of the senior pastor. Since that day, I have never ceased to be under someone’s authority. Those who would be leaders must also learn how to be followers.

2. Be prepared to sacrifice. The concept of sacrifice was once universally accepted. No more. In an age of entitlement, people often think that it is their right to have good things and to be successful. It is not. The greater the prize, the greater the sacrifice necessary.

A person starting a business, a pastor planting a church, a kid who desires to be a good athlete or a scholar must all be prepared to pay the price.

When my wife and I left a great church where I had enjoyed success to begin a mission church, we knew that we risked losing our house, our cars, our savings ... everything. We had no financial backing to begin such a venture. Those who risk nothing are very likely to gain nothing.

3. Cut others some slack. Some people believe that leadership involves intimidating subordinates or “lording it over” others. They believe that good leaders are to be feared.

After a bloody and brutal War Between the States, Abraham Lincoln was asked what should be done with the Southern states that had been defeated and devastated. His reply was, “Let ‘em up easy.”

Unfortunately, it was not to be. When Lincoln was assassinated, the South was subjected to a severe occupation that left a bad taste in the mouths of the defeated Confederates for generations.

In the New Testament, a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery was brought to Jesus. The Law demanded that she be stoned to death (presumably, the man escaped).

When Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” the crowd slowly began to disperse leaving only Jesus and the woman.

“Who are those who accuse you?” He asked.

“There are none,” she replied.

“Neither do I,” Jesus said. “Go and do not sin again.”

Leaders may sometimes have to be firm but they must also be people of mercy and compassion.

People who resist authority, who are not willing to sacrifice, and who are harsh or judgmental with others will not often find lasting success.

Leadership is never easy but sometimes it is often simple.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. ( He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South ( He may be contacted at]

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