The VERITAS formula for organizational leadership is really about leading people and helping them to become who they are designed to be. The formula is rooted in the principle that from God’s mouth comes knowledge and understanding (Prov 2:6). God’s word is true, and is thus reliable as the undergirding for life. The Scriptures have much to say about leading people, and seven particular Biblical principles make up the VERITAS formula:
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.”
The leader who acknowledges the voice of others demonstrates that people are valued, that they can contribute, and even that their contribution is needed. Being allowed to have a voice humanizes a person in a way for which they were designed. God created humanity in His image, and He expresses His own voice. To deprive a person of their voice deprives them of an important expression of who they were created to be.
In practice, leaders are encouraged to ensure that the organizational culture fosters and promotes candid communication and transparency. It is important that there be opportunities and outlets for people to use their voice – to have an influential say in the organization. Ultimately, leaders who listen to the people in their organizations will have a much more accurate perspective of the organization itself.
In personal growth, the voice of others should be part of the wise counsel that keeps leaders humble, teachable, and connected.
1 Corinthians 9:24
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
After describing his ultimate prize (9:23), Paul encourages his readers to run as if to win. In his letter Paul also provides his readers the tools they need in order to be able to run properly. If we are expected to run as if to win, we must put those with whom we are entrusted in position to run as well.
Leaders should be focused on empowering people to fulfill their roles. If we are called to run as if in a race, then in order to meet that challenge, leaders should be focused on providing the tools, the opportunities, and even the freedom to be able to run well. For example, the writer of Hebrews encourages his readers to “run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (Heb 12:1b-2a). A wise leader will create an environment that encourages people to implement the tools provided to run the race. As Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Allow people who are serving with you to feel God’s pleasure.
In practice, remove the shackles from people, guard against the shackles’ return, and allow people to run. Sometimes they will stumble, sometimes they will fall. Be there to cushion the blow and help them get back up.
In personal growth, it is vital that leaders allow people the room to refine methods and processes. In short: avoid micromanaging.
Philippians 1:5-6, 1 Corinthians 15:58
“…in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
The Philippians had embraced the responsibility of investing in the Gospel, and there was to be an outcome. Paul was confident that God would ultimately bring the work to fruition. Their work was not insignificant, and it was not without implications. Paul thought it important to communicate to the Philippians the significance of their work and to encourage them about the progress of that work. Likewise, leaders need to help the people they are leading understand the significance of their own work and show them what the results of their labor might be. Similarly, Paul reminded the Corinthians that their work had value because of Who their work was for. Solomon contrasts this by saying that all is vanity and there is no advantage in “under the sun” work (Ecc 1:2-3). There is something that makes work significant, and leaders ought to recognize what that is, looking beyond the sun for that significance.
In practice, leaders should realize that when people understand the big picture, and can see a transcendent reason for their work, they will embrace the responsibility of their labor.
In personal growth, it is important not to be so focused on outcomes that we become oblivious to the value of the action itself, however if we are working toward the right goals it is helpful to focus on the big picture.
1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Paul encourages the Corinthians that every believer is given a manifestation or outworking of the Holy Spirit. Each one is responsible to utilize what the Spirit gives them, and needs to understand their individual capability and responsibility in doing so. Likewise, Peter encourages his readers, as individuals, to employ their special gifts. It is notable that in both of these contexts the giftings are to be used for the benefit of others, still they are individual functions.
In practice, wise leaders understand that people need the latitude to function as independently as possible, yet always with a view toward benefiting others through those functions. There is a certain degree of independence needed, while not losing sight of the intended beneficiaries. Let people think for themselves, using their skills to the utmost, and help them see how their personal excellence contributes to the good of those with whom they work.
In personal growth, leaders should learn all they can about the functions assigned to people, in order to understand what causes limitations and what overcomes those limitations. The goal of the leader in this context is to foster maturity and independence of individuals within the effective function of the organization. Individuals matter. God uses individuals to accomplish His task, which is the growth and maturing of the body of Christ (the church). We must recognize the power of the individual and harness it appropriately for the growth and benefit of the team.
(1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10) Ephesians 4:31-32, Hebrews 10:24-25a
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together…”
The previous two passages considered (1 Cor 12:7, 1 Pet 4:10) both emphasize the importance of the individual while insisting on the importance of their contributions to others. Independent function is vital, but is designed for the purpose of benefitting others. In light of this, Paul encourages his readers that they need to treat each other appropriately – as God has treated them. There is no room for leaders or followers to be unkind, wrathful, or unforgiving. Leaders especially should be modeling kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, etc. Those following will be responsive to that kind of leadership.
Further, the writer of Hebrews challenges his readers to constantly be considering how to encourage each other to love and good deeds. It is especially interesting to note that these two components are the necessary core of any positive business ethics atmosphere. Good deeds stem from and are identified by the core values – what is truly loved by leadership. It is true that where one’s heart is the feet will follow. If our love is targeted correctly, then we will have a reliable matrix for understanding what is good. If not, then good gets fuzzy. Leaders need to understand what (or who) is worthy of love and why. Only then can we encourage others to do good. This is the fundamental core of any quality team.
Another vital element embedded in the Hebrews’ passage is the importance of assembling together. One cannot benefit others if that person is not (at least occasionally) with others. Wise leaders will foster fellowship and camaraderie, helping people to see and understand the people whom they are serving.
In practice, while leaders must caution against causing death of a thousand meetings, it is vital that we understand the importance of bringing people together to listen, to learn, to serve, and to grow. Leaders must also demonstrate, communicate, and instill core values. In observing this, individual members of the team will understand what the team is all about, and how to benefit the team.
In personal growth, leaders must first be before we can do. Telling others to be gentle, kind, and forgiving is of little value unless leaders first demonstrates that fruit. Further, where one’s heart is there his treasure will be (Mt 6:21). If one’s core values are not in the right place, it will eventually become apparent to all.
1 Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:4
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
“Subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.”
“Have this thinking in you that was also in Christ Jesus…”
People are to be capable and empowered to function independently, yet not as separated from the group, and not simply as for one’s own personal gain, but for the benefit of others. In the body of Christ there are many individual members, yet they are all equally valuable members of one body. As such, they are reminded to have the same kind of humility as Christ did – He humbled Himself even to the point of death on a cross for the benefit of all. If the Creator of all was willing to become like one of His creations and suffer and die on their behalf (so that believing in Him they might have true life), then how can we be unwilling to show the same humility? Further, if we have that humility, then we should regard each other as more worthy of honor than ourselves (Php 2:3), and we should be willing to be subject to each other.
In practice, leaders must recognize that we are not above those we are leading. Like Christ, we must be willing to bring ourselves low for the benefit of others. If a leader is unwilling to do this, their ability to lead is hampered, and they will only be able to develop people to a small extent. However, if leaders are willing to be transparent and accountable to those whom we are leading – those leaders have the capacity to help people excel at the highest levels. This is inspirational leadership. Leaders who will lead by example and do even the most menial of tasks are the most respected and the most influential leaders. These are the kinds of leaders who are beloved and not simply followed.
In personal growth, it is hard for any leader to try to emulate the thinking and character of the greatest Leader unless we have a personal relationship with Him. If a leader doesn’t know Christ, we can borrow concepts from His worldview and understand that His principles work, and we can be effective, influential, and even beloved leaders. But we cannot reach the heights for which we were intended unless we have received the blessing that Christ humbled Himself to provide for us. Taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him (Ps 34:8).
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
Galatians 6:2, 6:10, Hebrews 10:24
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…”
The law of Christ is love (Mt 22:37-40, Jn 13:34). One significant expression of that love is to bear one another’s burdens. When one struggles, all struggle. When one weeps, all weep (Rom 12:15). In a leadership context, leaders ought to consider the burdens of those working with them as belonging not just to those working, but to the leaders themselves. Expressing love in that setting requires that leaders provide the same support and resources they would want for themselves in order to deal with whatever the burden might be. If leaders aren’t properly supporting those whom they are leading, they are not expressing the requisite love of Christ, and if they are not doing that, they simply are not good leaders.
Paul adds another important nuance in Galatians 6:10 – doing good should start at home – as he describes it, in the household of faith. Paul is encouraging Christians to first do good to other Christians and then to do good to all humanity. It is not a matter of either or, it is a both and, but with a stated priority: doing good starts at home.
In a leadership context sometimes we get this wrong. We can focus so much on the customer or consumer who is purchasing the product or service we are providing, that we forget that the organization itself – the leaders and those whom they are leading – constitute a household of sorts. Take care of those at home, and they will be able to take care of others.
In practice, this means to prioritize the support and care of those being led over the support and care for those outside the organization. Consequently, the customer is not always right. There are scenarios in which meeting a customer’s demand is not the right thing to do. Guard the dignity of those serving with you, and support them in every way you can. A fringe benefit of doing the right thing in properly supporting those serving with you is that they will blossom in their roles and will be able to provide the highest quality products and services.
In personal growth, this means constantly considering ways to stimulate and encourage personal growth in others (Heb 10:24). It demands a focus on the wellbeing of others, and a commitment to actually doing the things needed for their development.
In short, the VERITAS formula for organizational leadership is a Biblical formula for demonstrating Christlike love to others. It is far more focused on people than on products and outcomes, and yet, remarkably, it always produces excellent outcomes. This pattern seems consistent with the teachings of Christ. In a moment of counterintuitive (to us, perhaps) teaching, Christ said, “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” (Jn 12:25). He was challenging His listeners to realign their priorities to reflect a total focus on Him. In so doing He highlighted the principle that following His patterns always leads to the best outcomes, even if in the short term the cost seems too high. And so it is with leadership. Following His model is always the best path.
Even those who choose to reject Him as their Sovereign will often affirm His wisdom unknowingly as they borrow His principles and apply them to their own lives. They see positive results and pat themselves on the back for being so skilled in leadership. Sadly, this is like receiving a precious gift and never acknowledging the Giver. So I simply urge leaders who apply these principles and discover how effective they can be, to give credit to the One to Whom all credit is due. From the mouth of God comes knowledge and understanding (Prov 2:6)!
 Colin Welland and Hugh Hudson, Chariots of Fire, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 1981.