Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

The Necessity of Godly Character for Credible Leadership

What follows is a paper I presented recently at Evangelical Theological Society meetings in Denver.

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Is character indispensable for effective leadership? How critical is holiness to those who hope to lead well? Opinions are less certain in our times. There was a day we assumed that character mattered. We expected that leaders would live upstanding lives, both in private and in public. Denominations made annual resolutions regarding moral character.[1] People almost unconsciously made a ritual calculation, judging leaders not on the issues so much as the unarticulated question of gravitas.[2] Politicians ran on such issues. In the 1964 presidential race, a Nixon TV ad ran with these words–“Character is the most important qualification the President of the United States can have.”

But times have changed. We are in what one calls a “post-heroic era” where personal histories and the heroic ideal—moral excellence–don’t count as much as they did.[3] For an increasing number, character no longer carries the weight of importance, the priority it once held. Our culture seems to have become more impressed with performative over principled leadership. We’re captivated by outsized ambition, even if it comes at the expense of moral impoverishment.[4] It’s okay if one compromises certain values, so long as the leader generates a profit, carries out effective policies, and satisfies our agendas.

Still, there have been other moments in history when a more Machiavellian approach to leading (i.e., less principled and more calculating) ruled the day. Every period has had its share of venal and corrupt leaders, with followers suffering the consequences of character absence. And as in our day, these also have had their pushback. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim traced moments in fourteenth century Europe when people reacted to fraudulent leadership and demanded the nobility of character. There was an outcry for a class of leaders who were legitimate, who were wise and virtuous.[5] We hear this today in posts demanding that we restore the priority of character.[6]  

Some opinion writers are lamenting our characterless age. Writes Swaim, “It’s hard to contemplate American public life in the 21st century and not arrive at the unhappy conclusion we are led by idiots.”[7] Finding a leader with an accurate moral compass is rare. The question Os Guinness asked some twenty-three years ago–“Where has all the character gone?”—is more relevant than ever.[8] The world stage is littered with contemptible leaders void of virtue. We are more enamored with technical achievement than personal virtue, political accomplishments than moral integrity. Leaders speak less of obligation and more of self-expression.

How did we get here? A growing secularism is one obvious explanation. We are less inclined to both define and affirm truth. Our materialistic and technological age is not only driving values—it is determining our leadership curriculums. We are also enamored with what works. Today, a multi-billion-dollar leadership industry is training future leaders to view success in pragmatic terms. In most fields, results—not stature—are what ultimately matter.

Leadership accomplishments have become the metric by which we evaluate leaders. In his Road to Character, David Brooks observes that we live in a culture that nurtures the external at the expense of the internal, emphasizes production over one’s inner life, and encourages self-promotion over character development.[9] Stanley McChrystal, after profiling thirteen diverse leaders in Leaders: Myth and Reality, concludes, “Our profiles are a reminder that those who emerge as successful leaders are not necessarily those with the best values.”[10] Many of their careers were marked as a straight line of ascent, all onward and upward, but their personal lives were marred by “bumps and potholes along the way.”

The secondary place of character is particularly evident in the political realm of contemporary culture. David Gergen, who served under four American presidents, observed that some were the authors of their own downfall for they were unable to manage the fault lines of their character.[11] Writing twenty-two years later, he has seen the fault lines deepen in the lives of successive political leaders. Calling for change, he writes, “. . . great leaders know that even as you learn how to navigate in roiling waters, you must hold firm to your own True North…Courage and character will always be foundational for emerging leaders.”[12]

Like politics, the emphasis on pragmatics and performance in the corporate world has eclipsed the place of character. An obsession with production and speed and profit, as well as the determination to deliver predictable and generous returns to its shareholders, have combined to encourage leaders to cut corners when it comes to character development. Too often these have led to abusive behaviors in the workplace and ruthless firings when quotas are not met. Tragically, leaders have sacrificed their souls on the altar of self and greed.

Even in the church, where character has been an essential for spiritual leadership, there has been a noticeable shift. Some churches are willing to look past character flaws so long as a leader can attract growth and generate wealth. Eugene Peterson warned of this trend years ago, noting that more and more pastors have “metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers” concerned with keeping the customers happy, providing religious goods and services for the consumers.[13] 

The recent moral breakdowns connected with the likes of Bill Hybels, Ravi Zacharias, and Mark Driscoll have forced them and a number of ministry leaders  to step down or take time away—disgraced by revelations of inappropriate behavior) illustrate the present calamity. Little wonder that the New York Times recently concluded that the contemporary evangelical movement is in a “crisis of leadership.”[14] More accurately, it is in a crisis of character.

Something must be done. Where do we start? Can theology help? Perhaps we should begin with an understanding of what we mean when we talk about character.


In her book, Character: The History of a Cultural Obsession, Marjorie Barber notes that character remains one of the least understood of all modern terms.[15] We tend to use the word less in the 21st century, and those who use it most frequently are those who have the sketchiest understanding of its meaning.[16] Character, it turns out, is a complex, sometimes self-contradictory, and often elusive concept, the meaning of which has itself grown and changed over time. In our secular age, it has become a bland, sanctimonious, and empty term.[17]

In its oldest usage, character spoke to something engraved, stamped, imprinted on something. David Brooks describes it is as something built in the course of one’s inner confrontation, “a set of dispositions, desires, and habits that are slowly engraved during the struggle against your own weakness.”[18]  Character is the inner form, what Guinness refers to as the “essential stuff” that makes anyone or anything what it is.[19]  In the New Testament, “character” is the word used to translate dokime, a word that refers to the essence of something, to what is left after it has passed the test (cf. Rom 5:4).

Character hence is something different than personality or charisma, the persona we see on the outside. Character takes us into the interior. It represents who one is off stage, behind the scenes, in the dark where no one else can see. It is what is left when all the trappings of leadership—the titles, the impressive dress and ribbons, the entourage, the crowds, the crafted speeches—are stripped away.  It is less about the husk and more about the kernel, less about the moment and more about the life.

Dallas Willard describes character as “that internal, overall structure of the self that is revealed by our long-run patterns of behavior and from which our actions more or less automatically arise.”[20] N. T. Wright puts it more graphically, describing character as “the pattern of thinking and acting which runs right through someone so that wherever you cut into them (as it were), you see the same person through and through. Its opposite is superficiality.”[21]

All of this underscores that character goes to the heart, to the core, to that which is beyond the layers. It is both the foundation and predictor of behavior. Whatever conduct is consistent, habitual, and second nature is, in essence, character.[22] To put it another way, character is like a well-worn path—repeated behaviors that wear a groove over time. They might have begun laboriously, but now they have become routine.[23]

While character gets to the heart, it is an unbiased term.  While the most common usage of the word equates it with moral excellence, “human nature in its best form,”[24]  character is in fact morally neutral. One can have a flawless character, one reflecting the highest of virtues, a deep moral seriousness. One can also have a deeply flawed inner self, corrupt and godless, leading to unethical and immoral behaviors.


What marks a virtuous leader, someone with a high quality of character? What should we look for? Historically, Western culture has looked to ancient philosophers like Plato and Socrates and Aristotle for answers. Traditionally, four virtues have been recognized as classic (or cardinal): wisdom (sophia), prudence (sōphrosynē), justice (dikaiosynē), and courage (andreia).[25] Of these, prudence is considered by some to be the mother of every cardinal virtue, the heart of moral character.[26]

Yet, worthy as these are, they fall short of a sound theological assessment. They begin and end with humanity as the reference point and human effort as the means. And human ideals will not bring us to the outcomes of true character. N.T. Wright imagines the apostle Paul being asked for his opinion about ancient Greek ideals: “It is fine up to a point and as far as it goes, but it can’t give what it promises. It’s like a signpost pointing in more or less the right direction (though it will need some adjustment), but without a road that actually goes there.”[27]

Truly good character begins and ends with God and his revealed standard. He alone is the worthy reference point. Only his word reveals the marks of holiness the Spirit intends to imprint on the soul, leading to moral excellence. There are supernatural virtues that, taken together, transcend any human imaginings. Think of them as a “morality beyond morality.”[28]

In Galatians, Paul gives a list of character qualities that evidences the filling of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22–23); to the Colossians he defines the moral qualities leaders are summoned to wear (Col 3:12–14); and to the Corinthians he points out the cardinal graces (1 Cor 13:13). James, another apostolic voice, uses the wisdom from above as the broad category under which he specifies a set of godly character qualities. These stand in contrast to the earthly and unspiritual (Jas 3:17–18). Finally, in 2 Peter 1:3-7, Peter gives his own list, beginning with moral excellence and ending with love.

Summarizing these and other passages (e.g. Ps 15; the Sermon on the Mount), the following are the essential marks of character excellence, moral leadership, at the highest level—


This is at the root of true character. It prefaces any character list. (Col 3:12). Holiness raises the standard of moral leadership to the highest level, transcending all other virtues. God’s character is holy, and he exhorts us to scale the same height (Lev 19:2; 1 Pet 1:14-16).

Leviticus 19 fleshes out the term, equating it with loyalty, generosity, and obedience. Other words associated with holiness include godliness, purity, integrity. and Christlikeness. Character marked by holiness is whole, sound, and solid versus incomplete, unsound, and twisted. Without holiness, leaders will lack a certain credibility. They will tend to bend the truth, exaggerate, or understate the facts, and make promises but fail to follow through.

Holiness describes one who is morally blameless, separated from sin and consecrated to God. It is not a quality one can measure so much as a pathway one can—by God’s grace—walk.[29] Beyond a morally good life, holiness is an intimate relationship with God.[30] On this road a leader walks with God, listens to his voice, and takes in his beauty. Living a life of holiness is what enables a leader to fulfill one’s ultimate missional task—to make God known.[31] Hence, Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to “make every effort” to pursue holiness.


To imitate the character of God is to walk in the way of love (Eph. 5:2). Holiness and love comprise the essence of God, hence the essence of moral character. 1 John 4:8 declares that love characterizes God’s very nature. It sums up the true character of a leader for love summarizes the law of God (Rom 13:8). Like holiness, love is both a virtue to pursue and a gift to be received, and it begins with loving God (Matt 22:37).

Divine love, embraced in the life of a leader, becomes something unconditional and covenantal.[32] Love is the character attribute that unites all the other virtues (Col 3:14). McKnight speaks to its primacy: “Love, then, is not one of the virtues; love is the one and only virtue that creates space for all of the other virtues.”[33] It is the crowning gift of the Spirit, the first of God’s graces, the primary virtue holding the others in place (Gal 5:22; 1 Cor 13:13; cf. 2 Pet 1:5–7).

Without love, leadership is marked by incivility and intolerance. It manifests itself in oppressive policies, efforts to diminish one’s opponents, and acts that are anything but kind.


Holiness and love lead to righteousness and justice. As with love and holiness, justice runs deep in God’s being (Ps 36:6). It must run deep in the heart of a leader. Just as justice is the foundation of God’s throne, it must symbolize the nature of a leader’s authority and power (89:14).

The world is desperate for leaders who are fair-minded. Leaders who make justice a leitmotif of their leading bring evenhandedness and impartiality to an uneven world (Jas 3:17). It’s what followers are most desperate for (cf. 1 Kgs 3:16–27; 2 Kgs 8:3). King Lemuel’s mother prays one of the great leadership prayers in Scripture: “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov 31:9). Such leaders do not show partiality or take bribes. They cannot be bought, and they do not minimize what is right.

Today, stories of victimhood and injustice drive many of our headlines. They underscore that rightness can never be secondary or subservient to expediency, achievement, or personal satisfaction.


Humility is another essential leadership virtue, one that joins other less pronounced character qualities like patience, purity, diligence, compassion, gentleness, and kindness. All these qualities are associated with divine ideals, ones that must mark a godly leader. Jesus is the ultimate model of humility, one who came to serve—not be served (Mark 10:45). His work on the cross transformed Paul’s leadership style, one that shifted from egoistic to cruciformed (Phil 3:1-8; 2:15).

In our performative culture, the relevance of humility in a leader is sometimes questioned. In a recent New York Times article, “Humility Is a Virtue. But Can Humble People Succeed in the Modern World?” Peter Coy raises the question as to whether self-effacement and abnegation are reasonable qualities.[34] Don’t they get in the way of true success?

It is the opposite. To minimize humility is to overlook the fact it is the framework in which all virtues live.[35] Without humility, without an understanding of our proper place in the order of creation, and without an acknowledgment of their true weaknesses, leaders cannot cultivate the other virtues like love and justice.[36] They fall prey to arrogance, the central vice that is behind almost every leadership failure.

If God is to elevate a leader, it begins with one’s willingness to descend (Matt 23:12). Humble leaders are less concerned with getting their way, promoting their name, and advertising their accomplishments. Leaders who are modest in character do not need the applause of the crowd. They are okay with being in the shadows. Rather than work to establish their authority, they believe it more important to establish their need for God’s power.


We now come to the argument of this paper. Is moral character, as defined, an option? Many will say the short answer is no. Is it critical to leading? Others will say yes.But as noted, this question is increasingly met with, “Yes, but.” And when someone says “Yes, but” the only words that matter come after the “but.” As one writer puts it, “The ‘yes’ is appeasement; the ‘but’ is belief.”[37]

The belief here is that there are no “buts” about moral character. Writers of leadership, as well as the Biblical record, affirm that leadership carries with it an enormous ethical responsibility. Leaders who are unholy, unloving, unjust, egocentric, and crooked may exhibit effective and productive leadership, but only for a season. Good character is essential and here’s why—

Moral character is what gives a leader credibility. It’s what gives legitimacy—the lawful right to lead. Ethical leadership enables one to “exercise power effectively amid trials and transitions, setbacks and successions.”[38] Legitimacy is what leaders reach for when they call their societies to sacrifice, and consistency of good character gives them this reservoir. Walter Fluker, Professor of Ethical Leadership, states in his Ethical Leadership, that moral character gives a leader the advantage of confronting the past with integrity, the present with compassion, and the future with hope.[39]

Moral character enables a leader to avoid excess. Leaders are tempted to overextend their boundaries. Many have an appetite for power and success, the kind that is enormous and relentless. These are the leaders who often make history. This is the conclusion of Kellerman and Pittinsky in their Leaders Who Lust. [40]  Intense desire can push leaders like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin to get to the top. But apart from core values and their necessary restraints, such leaders often derail. Implode. Unchecked desire leads to unseemly, unsuitable, and undesirable leadership. Such leaders have appetites that grow with eating—they always want more—and this generally exhausts and unsettles followers.[41] Leaders begin to lose a sense of reality, are unable to see the lines or hear the cautions. History—and Scripture—tell us this. Excesses have their price. They blind leaders to the ways of God (cf. Exod 11:10).

Moral character is critical to organizational health. Management consultant Patrick Lencioni states that the single greatest advantage any organization can achieve is organizational health.[42] Indicators include minimal politics, clarity, and high morale, and organizational health begins with the moral wellbeing of a leader. A leader guided by principle is immune to slogans or pressure, things that impair one’s leadership.[43] Leaders obsessed with the bottom line and careless with the inner life may raise the GNP, increase attendance, and boost the value of stocks, but they tend to contribute to the ill-health of an institution, one that eventually loses its way.

Unhealthy leaders tend to reduce anything of value to a transaction. Over time, this creates a toxic, dysfunctional, and dictatorial environment. In such an unhealthy atmosphere, morale ultimately plummets and turnover escalate. Without a leadership marked by character, trust erodes into mistrust, enthusiasm is replaced with a loss of spirit, and order eventually turns into chaos.

Moral character is in the best interest of followers. Leadership that is faithful to moral values attracts followers. In their book Moral Leadership, Gushee and Holtz observe, “There is something in the human spirit that simply cannot help but gravitate to people who have led lives of great moral purpose” (cf. Moses, Nehemiah, David, Asa, Josiah and the people who followed them).[44] These are the leaders who consider what is vital for the collective good and are necessary for human flourishing (e.g., security, prosperity, civility, and freedom).[45] These are the leaders who are remembered. In their exhaustive study of leadership, James Kouzes and Barry Posner confirm this, concluding that the most admired leaders are those with “strong beliefs about matters of principle.”[46]

Moral character is in step with the priorities of God. Most importantly, leaders who consistently manifest the character of holiness, love, justice, integrity, and humility serve the divine purpose for which they were summoned. In the Biblical narrative, character is not a subtheme to leadership success and stability. It is the main theme. It’s what gives force to leadership. When the Apostle Paul speaks to leadership qualifications, he begins with character (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9). Charisma, exceptional energy, giftedness and skillsets, and audacious initiatives are impressive attributes, but Scripture makes clear that they cannot make up for moral deficiencies. A leader unconcerned with moral deficits is no more useful to God than is silver full of dross to a silversmith (Prov 25:4).

Most leadership failures in Scripture had little to do with personality conflicts, unexceptional performance, or failed expectations. The issue was unprincipled hearts. Absent of character, leaders like Saul, Manasseh, Caiaphas, and Herod were leadership disasters. They lacked the part-gyroscope and part-brake that provide the leader’s strongest source of bearings and restraint.[47] Without a clear set of moral principles in place, leaders go into dark places, cave to their base drives, and abuse those they have been called to serve. Once promising, a characterless leader like Saul was an empty soul and empty suit. Whatever he accomplished was as significant as “foam on the surface of the water” (Job 24:18

Walter Brueggemann, reflecting on the life of the OT kings, notes that without the right character, self-serving leaders not only destroy themselves but end up dismantling the world.[48] The social order comes apart. A large bureaucracy becomes necessary to fill the void and manage the corruption and disorder. This is the point of Proverbs 28:2: “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.” If things do not change, a corrupt leadership will interfere with both God’s blessing and God’s presence (cf. 2 Kgs 17:18).


Convinced that moral character is essential, how does one acquire it? Scripture affirms that living a life of impeccable character is not automatic. Pursuing character formation begins with an acknowledgement that it is not in one to develop moral character. It is not as simple as “Be true to yourself.” Contrary to most leadership theorists, there is no internal true north one finds and develops on one’s own. Self-mastery is an illusion. The deeper one penetrates the heart, the more evident it is that our inclinations go contrary to righteousness, to holiness. Secular books like Leadership BS and The End of Leadership concede that something in us is deeply flawed.

Admitting to our true nature is the first step. Character development demands that a leader admit a certain helplessness. Until we confess our true nature and our powerlessness to bring about interior change, our character will remain unsound and our leadership inept. In nearly every story, God deconstructs Scripture’s major characters, exposing their uncultivated inner lives and their defective leadership.[49] Noah got drunk and exposed himself (Gen. 9:20–22). Abraham caved to domestic pressure and sired a child through an Egyptian maidservant (16:3–4). Moses let his anger get the best of him and lost the privilege to enter the promised land (Num 20:11–12). Eli refused to restrain his children, and his sons made themselves contemptible (1 Sam 3:12–14).

This “weird fascination with sin” that began with Adam continues through the account of Israel’s kings. Saul was a mix of piety and impulsivity, like a vase with a crack (15:10–11).

Even those who were models of faithfulness, like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Uzziah, all fell in the end. The rapid-fire style of the writer in Kings moves from one story of moral failure to another. After a while the narrative becomes what Leithart calls “monotonous and boring.”[50]

The New Testament is another collection of malevolent kings, corrupt priests, and weak-kneed and greedy saints. Even the disciples come off as impulsive and prone to faithlessness. We find ourselves with Job, declaring, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Something is terribly wrong. Character failure, both within and outside the Bible, is endemic. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Ps 14:3). “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Apart from the redemptive work of Christ, we are all under sin, dead in our transgressions, living off incoherent dreams and illusions, and short on leadership (Rom 3:10; Eph 2:1; Col 2:13).[51]

Leaders intent on a life of moral character will need a radical heart change, one that goes beyond themselves. Only the redemptive work of Jesus and the sanctifying work of the Spirit can transform the heart. Coming to Christ and discovering the power of the gospel begins the transformational process. Typical leadership books promise alternatives, but there is no other way to real change. Only in the power of the Spirit and by the grace of God can a leader put off the old and put on the new (3:1-14). Notes Bloesch, “In and of ourselves we cannot procure the graces of godly character, but we can pray for them; we can prepare the way for them.”[52]  They are blessings rather than achievements.

Receiving divine grace, character development requires an ongoing holy pursuit. It is a daily battle with forces that want to delude leaders into seeing character as secondary. It is a daily discipline of seeking the power of the Spirit to receive and develop the attributes of holiness.

Character development also requires that a leader yield to lessons that come with trials and sufferings. These are key to developing leadership traits.[53] Paul writes, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character;” (Rom 5:4). Leaders will face their crucible moments, their altering ordeals. Our character will not be perfected this side of eternity. We will have to develop godly habits, working out our salvation daily (Phil 2:12), but in the process there is great promise we will powerfully lead.


Though the debate over the necessity of moral character for leading is dividing people, theology underscores that moral excellence matters. It is anything but a non-essential. Followers may turn a blind eye to a leader’s indiscretions, so long as their needs are met and policies are carried out, but character flaws ultimately have negative real-world effects.[54]  Leaders without gravitas and moral rectitude may have their season, but they eventually become paragons of mediocrity. Without true character, one’s life has the propensity to give way to the darkness, to a life of misbehavior, and a leadership that is best forgotten.

Theology underscores that principle trumps performance. It corrects any assumption that moral character can be achieved on one’s own. We might exhibit some outward virtues by our own efforts, but apart from Christ the heart remains ruined. Its corruption due to sin has a way of diminishing one’s leadership, be it because of fits of anger, misguided and unceasing wants, or self-centered and immature acts. Without a radical change in the interior, leaders have no accurate compass. They lack the restraints to govern their most intrinsic desires, and their leadership has little depth.

With redemption, giftedness, the necessary skills of leading, and the passion to pursue holiness, leaders can transform the world.

[1] See the SBC Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials, , June 1, 1998. 1998 Annual Meeting.

[2] Lance Morrow, “The Gravitas Factor,” Time Magazine, March 11, 1988.

[3] Peggy Noonan, “Why Herschel Walker Shouldn’t Have Run,” Wall Street Journal, October 8-9, 2022.

[4] Note a recent article in The New Yorker, “Was Jack Welch the Greatest C.E.O. of His Day—Or the Worst?” October 31, 2022.

[5] Barton Swaim, “The Case for an American Revolution in Morals,” Wall Street Journal, August 2021, 2022.

[6] David French. “Make Character Great Again,” The Third Rail, November 4, 2022.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Os Guinness, Character Counts, 14.

[9] David Brooks, The Road to Character, xi-xii.

[10] Stanley McCrystal, Leaders: Myth and Reality, 395.

[11] David Gergen, Eyewitness to Power, 345.

[12] ________, Hearts Touched With Fire, 5-6.

[13] Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles, 1.

[14] Ruth Graham, “Prominent Evangelical Pastor Tearfully Steps Aside,” New York Times, August 30, 2022.

[15] Marjorie Garber, Character, 4.

[16] Ibid., 376.

[17] Ibid., 55.

[18] Brooks, The Road to Character, 263.

[19] Guinness, Character, 12.

[20] Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 142.

[21] N.T. Wright, After You Believe, 27.

[22] H.S. Leonard, “The Many Faces of Character,” Consulting Psychology Journal, 49 (4), 250.

[23] Smith, How to Inhabit Time, 51.

[24] Garber, Character, 12.

[25]Wright, After You Believe, 34.

[26] Josef Pieper, The Four Carinal Virtues, 3. See Karen Swallow Prior, On Reading Well, 21.

[27] Wright, After You Believe, 36.

[28] Donald Bloesch, The Paradox of Holiness, loc. 304.

[29] ________, The Holy Spirit, 319.

[30] ________, Paradox of Holiness, loc. 232.

[31] See Christopher Wright, The Mission of God, 369-375.

[32] Scot McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy, 169.

[33] _______, 168.

[34] Peter Coy, “Humility is a Virtue. But Can Humble People Succeed in the Modern World?” New York Times, October 5, 2022.

[35] Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 209.

[36] Karen Swallow Prior, On Reading Well, 208.

[37] French, “Make Character Great Again.”

[38] Ross Douthat, Why Queen Elizabeth’s Strength is Putin’s Weakness,”, New York Times, September 17, 2022.

[39] Walter Earl Fluker, Ethical Leadership.

[40] Barbara Kellerman and Todd Pitinsky, Leaders Who Lust, 205.

[41] Ibid., 218.

[42] Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage, 1.

[43] Kissinger, Leadership, 30.

[44] David Gushee and Colin Holtz, Moral Leadership for a Divided Age, 3.

[45] Eldridge Colby, “The Morality of a Strategy of Denial,” First Things, October 2022, 71.

[46] James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 46.

[47] Guinness, Character, 20.

[48] Walter Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, 3

[49] Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? 67.

[50] Peter Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, 110-13.

[51] Wright, After You Believe, 200.

[52] Bloesch, Paradox of Holiness, loc. 295.

[53] Ibid., 177.

[54] Ramesh Ponnuru, “Character Effects,” National Review, November 25, 2019, 16.

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