Christian Leadership of Non-Christians

As a Christian leader, there are two covenants that must be considered in order to influence effective outcomes. First, there is the covenant of a Christian with God and the ethical reflection of his personhood (Gen. 1:27) in order to honor mankind’s portion of the covenant (Barth, 1994, p. 94). This covenant stems from the fact man is a moral creation and in covenant relationship with the Creator; a Christian is called to behave morally in accordance to the principles of the Creator (Fedler, 2006).

The second covenant is that of a leader with followers who enter into a covenant relationship with intrinsically motivated efforts to achieve common objectives (DePree, 1989). Leaders who honor this covenant relationship are seen as trustworthy and impart followers with a sense of value and support through shared values, open-ended commitment, and concern for the welfare of the followers (DePree 1989). This trust is related to transformational leadership behaviors such as articulating a shared vision identified with by followers and serving as a personal example in behavior for followers to emulate (Bass, 1985; DePree, 1989; Greenleaf, 2012). For leaders looking to develop a strong culture with high follower buy-in, honoring the covenantal relationship and valuing followers increases trust and positively effects citizenship behaviors (Van Dyne et al., 1994) and ethical work climates (Barrett and Schubert, 2002).

Since Christian leaders should honor these two covenants they are intrinsically bound to, their behavior that honors these two covenants is not related to the faith status of followers they lead. The practice of servant leadership, modeled by Jesus (Mk. 10:45), increases trust through responsible morality, or leadership behaviors that elevate the moral convictions and actions of themselves and all followers (Sendjaya, 2010, p. 656), regardless of the followers’ faith convictions. Consistent leadership is the proper reflection of Jesus.


Barnett, T., & Schubert, E. (2002). Perceptions of the Ethical Work Climate and Covenantal Relationships. Journal of Business Ethics, 36(3), 279–290.

Barth, K. (1994). Church Dogmatics. (H. Gollwitzer, Ed.) (1st Authorized English translation under license from T&T Clark edition). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.


Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.

Greenleaf, R. (2012). The Servant as Leader. The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Sendjaya, S., & Pekerti, A. (2010). Servant leadership as antecedent of trust in organizations. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(7), 643–663.

Van Dyne, L., Graham, J. W., & Dienesch, R. M. (1994). Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Construct Redefinition, Measurement, and Validation. Academy of Management Journal, 37(4), 765–802.

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