Articles of Faith: Giant-Slayer Leadership

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.

What can we learn from a rarely known man in the bible who never held an office of leadership? Despite his obscurity, God thought very highly of this man,

“But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully…” (Num 14:24 NASB).

What would God say about your spirit? What would HE say about your followership?

First, what do we know about Caleb? He was from the Tribe of Judah. He was selected as one of the twelve warriors within the reconnaissance team sent to assess Canaan, the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua were the only two members to return unafraid of their findings. Although Caleb saw fortified cities and “giants” inhabiting the land, he recommended following God’s command to take Canaan. As a result of Israel’s lack of trust in God, Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the original exodus community to actually enter Canaan after forty years of wandering the wilderness.

Let’s also note what is not stated in the bible.

Although Caleb knew of the beauty and bounty of the Promised Land, not once does the bible mention any grumbling or complaining from him during the forty years of wandering due to unbelief of others. Finally, after many battles and securing the Promised Land, Caleb requested the hill country, known as Hebron, for his people. Although Caleb was 85 years old by now, he was confident God would deliver the only part of the Promised Land still occupied by giants, to him and his people.

So, what was so different about Caleb that God would make note of it? The bible unfolds a man who led from the middle of the pack by being a servant-first.

See this example on Servant Leadership within major global corporations.(Copyright NBC)

Sandjaya, Sarros, and Santora define servant leadership through six dimensions:

  • Voluntary Subordination
  • Authentic Self
  • Covenantal Relationship
  • Responsible Morality
  • Transcendental Spirituality
  • Transforming Influence

This article will address the first three dimensions.

1) Voluntary Subordination

Blanchard and Hodges say, “Leadership is first a matter of the heart”. Although Caleb was head of the Tribe of Judah, he subordinated his authority to God through His chosen leaders Moses and then Joshua,

“…except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and to his sons I will give the land on which he has set foot, because he has followed the LORD fully’’ (Deu 1:36).

Research explains this concept of servant in an organizational context, “They serve by making available to followers information, time, attention, material and other resources and the higher corporate purposes that give meaning to the work”. Robert Greenleaf, credited for coining the concept of servant leadership, further defines this attribute through a series of questions, “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

2) Authentic Self

Servant-leaders’ authentic self is based upon humility, integrity, accountability, security, and vulnerability.  Servant leader authenticity can also be attributed to a resolved sense of self. Caleb exhibited these qualities and behavior:

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it (Num 13:30 NASB).”

Sandjaya and Sarros recaps the authentic self,

“Their secure sense of self enables them to be accountable and vulnerable to others, marked by the absence of self defensiveness when criticized and the capacity to ‘abandon themselves to the strengths of others.’”

3) Covenantal Relationship

Caleb had a covenantal relationship with his God that was foundational to his relationships with his people, to Moses, and to Joshua. This relationship empowered him to serve and fulfill his life purpose. Research characterizes this relationship as,

“…an intensely personal bond marked by shared values, open-ended commitment, mutual trust, and concern for the welfare of the other party. The strong ties…produce a relationship that is not easily stretched to breaking point or threatened by disagreement or conflict.”

Also note covenantal relationship not only fuel our leadership but also impact future generations,

“…I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it (Num 14:24 NASB).

What motivates your leadership? How would you describe your covenantal relationships? Is God your foundational relationship? Have you resolved your sense of self?  Are you developing servants or consumers?

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Fernando Velazquez, Jr. is a Servant Leader, Entrepreneur, and Contributing Author.
He can be reached at

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