The Four Cs of Christian Leadership


This paper examines the role of calling (doing what God wants you to), competence (being good at what you do), confidence (knowing what you can accomplish in the context), and character (“good” traits) with the purpose of showing that character, while important, is the fourth in the sequence of the four. The paper draws from both Old Testament and New Testament examples of success based on each of the four Cs. The premise of the paper is that with each successful level of the four Cs, greater success happens. An organization’s leadership development program may be informed by this paper in that developing-leaders should first be filtered/selected by their sense of calling, followed then by education and training to increase their competence. Then, developing leaders can receive counseling and education to increase their confidence and finally, developing leaders can be coached, measured, critiqued, and developed in character traits.

The Four Cs of Christian Leadership

A panel discussion at Regent University in 2002 during a doctoral residency program attempted to answer the question “What is Christian Leadership,” and while concepts of qualities, characteristics, capabilities, and behaviors were addressed, the question seemed to be unanswered at the end. As a participant of this panel, I was left with a gnawing uneasiness about what constituted a Christian or “Bible-based” leader. It was during a 10-hour automobile drive with my spouse that the answer began to emerge. My spouse stated her observation that some character-flawed old-testament leaders seemed to be blessed by God and that didn’t seem to fit the general notion that “good” leaders are high-character leaders. It was from this point that I began the search to understand what a Christian leader is and found four key elements in sequence – Calling, or doing the will of God, Competence, or doing what you do well, Confidence, or knowing what you can do by yourself and what you can do with God’s help, and Character, or living a life according to Old Testament and New Testament character values. This paper presents these four along with a review of the literature on “what is a Christian Leader.”


It seems appropriate to begin with Jesus’ words. John 5:30 records Jesus’ statement “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” What is translated as “will” in the last sentence is qelema (Thelema) that implies what God wishes or commands. The same word occurs eight times in the Gospel of John:

Table 1: Occurrences of qelema (Thelema) (will) in the Gospel of John

Verse Text
John 1:13 “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (NAS).”
John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”
John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 6:39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”
John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 7:17 “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.”
John 9:31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him.”


It seems logical that if Jesus stated in different contexts that his purpose is to do the will of God, His Father (calling), then it should be the first order for a Christian leader to comply with the will of God for him/her. However, it is not clear from the verses above how one knows the calling of God. We gain some insight into how one might know the will of God from 1Samuel 3:1-10 in which we find God calling Samuel and Samuel, first believing that Eli had called him and then later learning that God was calling him responded to God, as he was directed by Eli: “Here I am.”

From this it is logical that if one hears from God then we know God’s purpose by direct revelation. From Genisys 39: 1-6 we can see how God’s anointing can be sufficient for success.

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and {how} the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him {there} he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

It should be noted that calling is something that comes from God and is not something that one can be educated/trained to receive.


Anecdotal evidence from invited speakers on entrepreneurship at Regent University indicates that those entrepreneurs who went into business as a call from God but who did not know how to do business did well although the entrepreneurs indicate that they made a lot of mistakes. Through their mistakes, these uneducated entrepreneurs say that God took care of them and the problems always seemed to be corrected after initial losses and errors.

In contrast, anecdotal evidence from entrepreneurs who also went into business because of a call from God, but who had an education in business indicated that they were successful. In comparing the two groups, the anecdotal evidence shows that doing what you do well (competence) leads to a higher level of performance.

From the Old Testament beginning in Genesis and moving through the books, the following verses seem to support a need for competence. In Genesis 47:6 we find a call for capable men.

The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.

Continuing on in Exodus 31: 1-5 we find God advising Moses that He selected capable (competent) men.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship”

In addition, in Exodus 35:25 we see that “skilled” workers were selected to make elements for the tent of meeting. It is interesting to note that preceding this mention of “skilled” the text in Exodus 35:21 says that these people’s hearts were stirred by God (called).

Exodus 35:21: Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.

Exodus 35:25: All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, {in} blue and purple {and} scarlet {material} and {in} fine linen. (NAS)

We see in 1Kings 7:14 that it was first wisdom and understanding (competence in thought) and then skill (competence in craft) that preceded Hiram’s employment by King Solomon.

He was a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.

From 1 Chronicles 26:30 and 32 we see reference to the need to have capable people.

1 Chronicles 26:30: As for the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his relatives, 1,700 capable men, had charge of the affairs of Israel west of the Jordan, for all the work of the LORD and the service of the king.

1 Chronicles 26:32: and his relatives, capable men, {were} 2,700 in number, heads of fathers’ {households}. And King David made them overseers of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of the Manassites concerning all the affairs of God and of the king.

Continuing with evidence from the Old Testament, we find in 2 Chronicles 2:7 and 2:13-14 that “skilled” people are needed and desired.

2 Chronicles 2:7: Now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet {fabrics}, and who knows how to make engravings, to {work} with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.

2 Chronicles 2:13 – 14 Now I am sending Huram-abi, a skilled man, endowed with understanding,  the son of a Danite woman and a Tyrian father, who knows how to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone and wood, {and} in purple, violet, linen and crimson fabrics, and {who knows how} to make all kinds of engravings and to execute any design which may be assigned to him, {to work} with your skilled men and with those of my lord David your father.

From Proverbs 22:29 we find a compelling argument for competence.

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

In Jeremiah 10:9 we find yet another reference to competence in the terms of “craftsman” and “skilled men.”

Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, And gold from Uphaz, The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith; Violet and purple are their clothing; They are all the work of skilled men.

From Ezra 7:1-10 we see that the hand of God was upon him (a calling) that preceded Ezra’s action of studying and practicing the law of the Lord even though the text shows that he was already skilled in the law of Moses.

Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, {there went up} Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest. This Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the LORD his God {was} upon him. Some of the sons of Israel and some of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God {was} upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice {it}, and to teach {His} statutes and ordinances in Israel.(NAS)

Competence does not always align with doing what is good but can, as we see in Ezekiel 21:31 and in Daniel 8:23, apply to doing what is not considered good but still doing it well.

 Exekiel 21:31: I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and I will give you into the hand of brutal men, skilled in destruction.


Daniel 8:23: In the latter period of their rule, When the transgressors have run {their course}, A king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue.

Colossians 3:34-24 gives a sense of the need to do what we do well, from which we can derive a need for competence.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

In summary, the verses presented above all refer to the need to be good at what we do. While from the prior section on calling it is clear that calling without competence can still lead to success – calling with confidence should lead to greater success.


Even with calling and competence, success may not occur to the level that it could if the leader lacks confidence. The notion of confidence is similar to the concept of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1994) in that people perceive their ability to do or not do something. The focus here is on self-perception, rather than reality. While it is possible and probable that perception matches reality, it is perception that drives this concept. Successes and failures contribute to a perception of self-efficacy, although when faced with unfamiliar situations, experience is replaced with self-beliefs of the individual. We can see an account of this in the account of Elijah’s confrontation with Baal’s priests and then Elijah’s subsequent confrontation with Jezebel. In 1 Kings 18 we find Elijah engaging the Priests and challenging them to a contest in which the priests of Baal would call upon their god to bring fire down and light the sacrificial fire. After the priests of Baal failed, Elijah took his turn and increased the difficulty by soaking the wood and the offering with water. Filled with confidence, Elijah prayed and fire came from Heaven and consumed not only the wood and the offering but the entire altar.

1Kings 18:38: Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

Following this success, the account in 1 Kings 18 says that Elijah then killed the 450 prophets of Baal. This is a demonstration of calling, competence, and confidence. However, following Elijah’s success, which should have increased his perception of his self-efficacy, Elijah learns that Jezebel is angry with him and seeks his demise as accounted in 1Kings 19:1-4. In this account, we see a lack of confidence from Elijah in that while he faced and killed 450 prophets, he now is ready to give up when faced with one woman.

Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers

From Matthew 14:28-31 we see an example of both confidence and a lack of confidence in the account of Peter asking Jesus to let Peter walk on the water.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

From this exchange, we can see that calling without competence (presumed that Peter did not get trained in walking on water) but with confidence can lead to success, but that calling without confidence (“little faith” ojligopistiva [oligopistos] as Jesus states) leads to failure.

In Matthew’s gospel we find five references to faith (confidence) relative to Jesus’ healing of the ill and infirmed, but these accounts are not relevant to the focus of this article on the four Cs of leadership. However, we do find a passage in Matthew 17: 14-21 in which Jesus reprimands the disciples for not having enough faith (confidence) in what can be done. In the passage below, note the movement from the child’s father first to the disciples and then, when the disciples did not succeed, to Jesus himself.

Luke 9: 1-6: When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord,  have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

Although this may imply that confidence has more impact than competence, we know from Luke 9: 1-6 that Jesus gave the disciples the competence to heal and that the disciples did, in fact, heal.

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

It seems the disciples were successful with healing (competence and some confidence), but with more confidence, the disciples could have been more successful.

In Acts 11:22-24 we see an account of Barnabas’ success and the ascription of his success to his faith (confidence) ojligopistiva (oligopistos):

The news about  them reached  the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent  Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.

In summary, the verses cited above show that confidence has a contribution to success. From calling comes a large measure of success followed then by competence and then confidence. While each is sufficient, it seems to build as the elements are added together.


In addition to the prior elements of calling, competence, and confidence, character is a key element of Christian (biblical) leadership as evidenced in the passages of Psalms 1 and 15; The Beatitudes, Philemon, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter 1:5-1. Character, although in the fourth position of the four Cs, has a significant amount of material since it seems that there is a general sense that character is the most important. This is not borne out though when one looks at the character of Moses when he killed the Egyptian

Exodus 2:14: But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Surely the matter has become known.”

or in Abraham when he presented his wife as his sister to the King

Genesis 20:2: Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

or when David committed adultery. Although there was a severe penalty later in this life, he continued to be successful for quite some time.

2 Samuel 11: 3-4: So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.

The historical accounts of Ahab indicate that he was successful in that his 11 to 19 year reign, depending on which historical account you read (, produced several cities and intense riches, albeit 1 Kings 16:30 shows that he was not known for good character.

Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him.

Thus, from the verses above, we can see that character is not the determinant for success. While Ahab did not show calling or character, he did show competence and confidence, the other referents above showed both calling, competence, and confidence in what they did. The sections that follow show both character and behavior in which the behavior is the outgrowth of the character.

Psalms 1 provides us with a view of the righteous leader who, through his/her beliefs, demonstrates characteristics in line with biblical principles. The passage below shows that a “blessed” leader does not interact with the wicked nor participate with evil people.

Psalms 1:1-6: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does,he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

While Psalm 1 begins with what not to do and then moves into what to do, Psalm 15 begins with what to do and then moves into what not to do.

Psalm 15: 1-2: O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.

The Hebrew that we translate as walk is halak (halak) means to abide and dwell. What we translate as integrity is ~ymt (tamiym) and what we translate as righteousness is qdc (tsedeq) and implies justice in addition to righteousness. From this, it would seem that characteristics of a biblical leader would include integrity and to seek what is right (this will be found again in the section on the beatitudes.

Psalm 15:3 continues from 15:2 and provides a glimpse of what is not done.

He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

This concern voiced by the psalmist is not contradictory to the notion of telling the truth, but focuses on righteousness. If one is to confront the problems of another, then one may need to speak to the person about noted problems, but the focus of this has to be (from the inner character) on helping the person. This does not imply that every problem noted has to be spoken. Discretion is, many times, a part of righteousness. If someone needs to hear the truth, then do so with integrity and righteousness.

The psalmist says that the one who wishes to be with God will not do ill to a neighbor but, instead, will do what is good. Note how this ties to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to love our neighbor. Note that the Hebrew [r (rea) used in Psalm 15:3 means that your neighbor is one with whom you have a more personal relationship.

The psalmist, after explaining what to do and what not to do moves on to attitudes toward others and self.

Psalm 15:4: In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; he swears to his own hurt and does not change.

The psalmist implies that those who live with God recognize the differences between those who are “of God” and those who are “not of God.” The resident of the “Holy Hill” dislikes and avoids the vile person but gives honor to those who fear the Lord.

This implies that rewards and honors in our organizations should not be for selling the most or doing the most work or volunteering the most time or giving the most money, but rather to recognize those who fear/revere our Lord. At Regent University, we nominate and select the employee of the month. While some of the characteristics are for doing a lot of work and handling a lot of responsibility, some of the criteria are about living a life that demonstrates a fear/reverence of God. Through Psalm 15 we see that in our organizations where we work, where we attend church, where we live, and in the government that oversees our lives, we need to recognize those who live their lives as a good citizen of the Holy Hill and to see the work that is done as an outgrowth of the right values. Thus, we honor those who demonstrate the values but do not recognize the work.

Likewise, we should not honor those people who make a lot of money or achieve a lot of significance, but who do so by means, methods, and for purposes that are not aligned with the values of the Holy Hill. How often do we hold up musicians, actors/actresses, and wealthy business people as “honorable” when the motives and behaviors of these people are contrary to the values of the Holy Hill?

According to Williams (2002), the psalmist implies that the resident of the Holy Hill does not seek to make immoral gain. Of interest, at the time of the psalmist’s writing, according to Williams, Hebrews were asked not to charge interest when loaning money since the one who needed to borrow did so because they were in financial trouble. Rather, the borrower made a pledge to repay (note the tie to the prior verse about swearing an oath). Williams points out, however, that Hebrews could lend money to non-Hebrews and collect interest.

The psalmist uses a concluding remark to show the underlying value of being a good citizen of the Holy Hill. To not be shaken implies to be on solid ground. To not be dislodged (note the tie to living with God). Of interest, note the similarities to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus contrasts the builders of the house on the sand versus the builders of the house on the rock. The psalmist presents the idea that living a life according to the values necessary to be a resident of the Holy Hill results in security of position and in blessings, or peace.

Psalms 15:4-5: In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; he does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

1Timothy 3 and Titus 1

1 Timothy 3 provides us with the traits and characteristics of a good leader, or overseer as Timothy states.

1 Timothy 3:2-7: An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

From verses 2-7 we can see that a good leader must demonstrate integrity. What we translate as reproach is anepileptoß (anepileptos) that means to be caught or arrested. The intent here is not to do what is wrong and not get caught, but rather to do nothing that might lead to getting caught. In other words, live your life in such a manner that no matter how finely your life is scrutinized, you will not be found “in reproach.” In addition, in the passage, we see that a leader must be temperate nefaleoß (nephaleos), meaning to remain sober and not under the influence of alcohol; prudent sofron (sophron), meaning to curb one’s desires; respectable kosmioß (kosmios), meaning to be modest; and hospitable filoxenoß (philoxenos), meaning to be generous to guests. In addition, the passage says that leaders should not be pugnacious plekteß (plektes), meaning to not be quarrelsome, which is similar to the beatitude “to be meek.” In support of this requirement to not be pugnacious is the requirement to be gentle and peaceable. The passage concludes by indicating that the leader must be seen in a positive light by people outside of the organization.In Titus 1 we see a recasting of some of the character elements from 1Timothy 3.

Titus 1:5-6: For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

 In the Titus passage, we see parallels for being above reproach and the addition of not being accused of dissipation or living a life of waste and excess as well as avoiding rebellion, which from the Greek anupotaktoß (anupotaktos) means to resist being under control. This last point is interesting in that it establishes a character trait of knowing that we are all under authority to someone in the organization.


 James helps us understand the character of a leader by admonishing us to listen well, react in a controlled manner, similar to what the beatitude “blessed are the meek” calls for, to be humble, which is akin to the beatitude “blessed are the poor in spirit,” to be active rather than passive, and controlled in his speech.

James 1:19-27: This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

1 Peter and 2 Peter

 Our list of characteristics continues with the assistance of 1 Peter 2:1.

1 Peter 2:1: Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

From this one verse we see that the leader should avoid intention to harm, dishonesty, inappropriate speech, and covetousness. In addition, the leader should be of integrity and not say one thing but do another (hypocrisy).

From 2 Peter 1:5 we find both character traits and actions.

2 Peter 1:5: Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Peter calls for us to show moral excellence although he does not define moral in terms that we can measure. Presuming that we can measure it, according to Peter, we should be able to achieve knowledge and then self-control, which seems to be a character trait in that the word for self-control is egkrateia (egkrateia) that is translated as the virtue of one who masters his desires. This sense of self-control is similar to what we found in 1Timothy 3.

Character Summary

From the passages above, a leader needs the following character traits (there are duplications in the list since the list reflects the character traits presented above): (a) integrity, (b) righteous, (c) truthful, (d) helpful, (e) discrete, (f) desire to do good, (g) discriminating, (h) integrity, (i) sober, ( j) prudent, (k) respectable, (l) hospitable, (m) not quarrelsome, (n) above reproach, (o) not wasteful/dissipative, (p) submits to control, (q) listens well, (r) controls one’s speech, (s) avoids intention to harm, (t) avoids dishonesty, (u) avoids inappropriate speech, (v) is not covetous, (w) avoids hypocrisy, (x) morally excellent, and (y) self-controlled.


This paper presented the four Cs of Christian/biblical leadership in a hierarchy of first: Calling, second: Competence, third: Confidence, and fourth: Character. The premise of this paper is that with each successful level of the four Cs, greater success happens. The paper is limited in that there may well be many more examples of the four Cs in the Old and New Testaments and it is not the intent of this paper to be exhaustive, but to present and support the concepts of the four Cs.

An organization’s leadership development program may be informed by this paper in that developing leaders should first be filtered/selected by their sense of calling and calling, followed then by education and training to increase their competence. Then developing leaders can receive counseling and education to increase their confidence and finally, developing leaders can be coached, measured, critiqued and developed in character traits.

Future research may include grounded theory about these four Cs as well as case studies of exemplary leaders who demonstrate the four Cs and subsequently, after more detailed operationalization of the concepts instruments, may be developed to measure a leader’s attainment of each of the four Cs.


Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press.

Williams, D. (2002) The Preacher’s Commentary #13 Psalms 1-72. Thomas Nelson Publishing.

About the Author

Dr. Bruce Winston has been a part of Regent University since 1991 with the School of Business & Leadership (SBL). He serves as director of the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program and teaches in the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Doctor of Strategic Leadership programs. Dr. Winston served as dean of the school from 2006-2013 and is active in the GLE seminars and conferences. His research interests include servant leadership, organizational development and transformation, leadership development, distance education and technology in higher education.