3D Virtuous Living

Aristotle dreamed of a world where humans would learn the virtues necessary to exercise leadership within the political order of Greece (Wright, 2010, p. 89). This led him to an ethical construct based on virtues through setting goals, using strengths as steps toward the goal, and turning strengths into habits through moral training until they become second nature (Wright, 2010, p. 33).

This backdrop of understanding was used by Jesus and his followers as they taught virtues. Instead of the two-dimensional model Aristotle used, they used a three-dimensional model (Wright, 2010, p. 35) calling followers to a better way to be human, rather than just a better way to be a leader. Aristotle focused on individual human flourishing where virtue development would benefit the individual and residually benefit others, but Jesus had a worldview of personal virtue development as a responsibility of a member of the Kingdom of God (Wright, 2010, p. 36). The thought followers of Jesus would remain where they were morally after salvation was almost appalling to Paul (Rom. 6:1) and he urged followers to be serious about their membership to the Kingdom of God by developing their virtues as a reflection of Jesus (Gal. 5:22-26)

Leadership is a reflection of an individual, and the influence a leader has over others makes virtue development even more paramount. In leadership character matters (Bass and Steidlmeier 1999, p. 182) and as leaders develop virtuous character their decisions and actions are guided by those virtues (Ciulia, 2014) serving in the capacity of leader as a member of God’s Kingdom.

If being a member of God’s Kingdom is higher order existence, then is being a leader a higher order in the Kingdom, or should it be a byproduct of each member of the Kingdom?


Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behavior. The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181–217. http://doi.org/10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00016-8

Ciulla, J. B. (Ed.). (2014). Ethics, the Heart of Leadership (3 edition). Santa Barbara, California: Praeger.

Wright, N. T. (2012). After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York, NY: HarperOne.

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