Evaluating Character of a Leader? See How they Treat “The Other”

How a person treats “the little people” or “outsiders” tells you a lot about a person’s character. I once remember interviewing someone with great credential for an upper level job. On paper and in the interview, this person seemed like a perfect fit. But afterwards, I learned that this potential hire had clearly mistreated (with arrogance) a lower level administrative assistant in the organization. That changed everything I thought about the quality of the character of the person.

Most leaders are gifted. They have vision and drive and a capacity to instill both in their followers. Usually, this means the person has an excellent command of language so as to move others to feel as she or he does. But such strengths can be easily cloaked in deceptive languages and what could have been good is used for a bad purpose, most often that of personal gain.

How much more dangerous if the leader combines these gifts with spiritual/religious language. Notice how the cloak of good things could easily cover up evil outcomes:


  • unity                      your opinion doesn’t matter
  • trust                      don’t question my actions and decisions
  • truth                      believe as I do or you are out

An Evaluation Tool Better than Words?

Check how they treat vulnerable people, people who do not tend to listen well, people who need lots of attention due to their weaknesses. See how they talk about those who work for them and who get little public glory. Do they blame underlings for their mistakes. Do they receive criticism well? Do they talk in “we” language (vs. “I”) and back that talk up with giving glory to others where it is due? And finally, how do they describe their enemies or those who are not part of the cheerleader squad?

For all of us who have any leadership, let us remember God’s strong warning to shepherds in Ezekiel 34. False shepherds are those who

  • Use the sheep for personal gain (milk, wool, meat)
  • Starve the sheep
  • Not cared for weak, sick or injured
  • Not sought after the lost ones
  • Ruled with harshness
  • Abandoned the flock altogether

These are God’s enemies, destined for destruction. But we are not left in the dark about what a good leader looks like. Ezekiel 34:11f provides the test of a true shepherd, God himself. He finds, rescues, brings back, feeds, provided pleasant places and peace. He will bandage and heal and bring justice.


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4 responses to “Evaluating Character of a Leader? See How they Treat “The Other”

  1. Allan Wade, a counselor I highly respect, says that a good question to ask when you are interviewing someone for a job is “Tell me about a time when you were kind to someone recently.”

  2. eahill58

    I am living through a difficult situation,my Pastor spoke some obscene words in front of me and some others,not swear words, but not the sort of things i expected to hear from a Christian Brother!! I feel i can no longer sit under his ministry, or listen to him preach… which makes it difficult for me!! I have no respect for him and try and avoid him as much as i can,I know i should’t judge him, or anyone, and i know he has had Bi Polar,in the past,so i am still struggling with this Problem, any advice would be appreciated!

  3. My ex-pastor came across as a good leader however when 2 cases of abuse surfaced in the chuch, mine included, he dismissed the victims and both times sided with the abusers Heartland Church Mississauga Ontario Canada…i pray for the entire body of the church and it’s leader Pastor Joel to take the time to understand DV and how manipulative and evil these men are!!!!! In Jesus name

  4. Mom & Grandma

    I appreciate this column. Most often we evaluate on charisma vs character. Charisma is usually the first impression given by a deciever who has practiced it well to specifically hide his low character. The charisma aspect draws in allies who will blindly support him once other people of true discernment have analyzed his character and found it wanting.

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