Without strength of character, our leadership is open to corruption. Pride, ego, and arrogance can turn our leadership into a self-centered dictatorship. Greed and the love of money can turn our leadership into a destructive mad scramble for bigger profits at any cost. The lust for power and the abuse of that power can turn our leadership into a graveyard of mistreated workers and broken relationships. It is amazing how quickly a lack of character can destroy a leader’s career and undermine his or her leadership effectiveness. Your ability to hold to high morals, ethics, virtues, and values defines your character. Be warned… your character matters.

  According to leadership experts, Stephen and Sean Covey, and their books about “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” they point out that our personal development and character help form our personal victory which lays the groundwork for public success.

  • “It takes faith to live by principles, especially when you see people close to you get ahead in life by lying, cheating, indulging, manipulating, and serving only themselves. What you don’t see, however, is that breaking principles always catches up to them in the end…. Putting principles first is also the key to becoming a person of character.” [i]


  Leading well, demands high character and Joshua modeled this well. Joshua had strong character that was rooted in a deep desire to honor God. He knew it wasn’t all about him, and he knew that the people he was leading needed to focus their attention on the Lord and not on him. Joshua understood his purpose well, and part of that purpose was to guide the spiritual wellbeing of his people as well as their physical health and safety. So, right at the beginning of their conquest, Joshua gives the people of Israel a physical reminder of God’s presence and power.

  • The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River. Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’… He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.” (Josh. 4:19-22, 24, NLT)

  Joshua used these twelve stones from the river to set up a memorial to the Lord. He showed character by honoring God and using the stones to help the people remember God’s miraculous power. The rocks symbolized that in this spot God showed up! In the days ahead, when you doubt; when you forget; when you wonder, look at these rocks and remember what the Lord did. Remember that the Lord is with us.

Why is character so important to our leadership?


Posted: June 2023 • Author: Larry Ely

Excerpt: “Chapter 3- Change in Purpose: What’s the Goal?” from Leadership and Faith: The Art of Leading Well.

© Larry Ely & Daniel Ely. All rights reserved.

Note: [i] Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (New York, NY: Fireside- Simon & Schuster, Franklin Covey Company, 1998), 26-27.