In the Old Testament, we find a number of leaders who led with distinction. Joseph, Joshua, Esther, Daniel, and Nehemiah are among my favorites. They were by no means the only great leaders used mightily by God. But, in my opinion, they set themselves apart from many other leaders by their response to pain, pressure, and temptation. In the face of adversity, they did not capitulate to wrongdoing or compromise on their principles.
We know these leaders were not perfect, for as humans, they were fallen creatures. However, we never find any record of their wrongdoing, unsavory attitudes or behaviors, or fallouts from their indiscretions. Instead, we find them to be highly effective, fruitful, and successful in their leadership.
These leaders are worthy of our emulation. To emulate means to imitate. On this point, the Apostle Paul challenged the Christians at Corinth: “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). We should emulate these Old Testament leaders, not only because of their effectiveness, but because of their exquisite integrity? They maintained the right perspective on God and consequently, the right perspective on themselves.
Consider some of their compelling comments: Joseph, “How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (Genesis 39:9); Joshua, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15); Esther, “If I must die, I must die” (Esther 4: 16); Daniel, “My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight” (Daniel 6: 22); Nehemiah, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!”
These leaders did not count the cost for holding to their integrity before God. We would do well to follow their examples.