Where Have All The Leaders Gone?

It’s haunted us for years, and still they are hard to find.

Is there a convincing, foolproof way to locate new leaders? The future Billy Grahams, Franklin Delanore Roosevelts, the John Wesleys, the Joan of Arks?

Are they made or born? Do you take the ones who apply as free agents or do you only recruit them? Are they found within your organization, or do you locate and bring them in?

These questions have plagued ministries and organizations for decades. Here in 1 Chronicles, we find a disturbing phrase that forces me to rethink this subject of finding leaders.

“A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar’s descendants than among Ithamar’s, and they were divided accordingly: sixteen heads of families from Eleazar’s descendants and eight heads of families from Ithamar’s descendants…” –1 Chron. 24:4

Two brothers, Nadab and Abihu, died because of their disobedience, and to replace them, God substituted their two siblings, Eleazar and Ithamar. However, a curious phrase emerged that caught my attention:

“A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar’s descendants than among Ithamar’s…”


I don’t know if this question will ever be answered sufficiently without having to add an overabundance of conjecture. Nevertheless, one thing I do know is … they were looking for leaders! They were recognizing them, counting them, and they had criterion for them.

Daniel had certain qualities that were recognizable enough to be noticed. In Daniel 5:11, we find King Belshazzar’s wife describing him as one who possessed leadership qualities. We find these words:

“The queen entered the banquet hall … and said: ‘There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods… for he possesses an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel.”

She presented her description of an emerging, soon to be influential leader.

Not bad!

Each of us must have a metric, a grid through which we are searching for young leaders. Often, ours could erroneously be: “Zeal, good talker, one who promotes himself convincingly, and some ability to use biblical knowledge.

I have found myself accepting these as an exhaustive proof of a leader only to be disappointed. I think I need to stick closer to Belshazzar’s wife’s list as history proves that she chose well.

Here is Mrs. Belshazzar’s criteria:

  1. Extraordinary Spirit: Someone who possesses a leadership sense, an attitude and disposition that sets them apart. Is this person “likable?”
  2. Knowledge and Insight: This describes a person who is an avid student of life. He or she reads and reflects. Reflection is an important part of building leaders. Experience alone will not build leadership competencies. Experience plus reflection equals insight.
  3. Interpretation of Dreams: This can simply be defined as someone who knows what God is saying.
  4. Explanation of Enigmas: An enigma is something that is difficult to understand. This means an emerging leader is able to explain things, able to keep things simple rather than making them complicated.
  5. Solving of Difficult Problems: A potential leader is a problem solver. Those who rationalize their non–engagement patterns will miss the defining moments that count in the building of an organization’s future.

A king’s wife can teach us much about finding leaders… even if her husband is a bit different.

Like me, I think he married well.

Wayne Cordeiro

Leave a Reply