Gideon had his own struggles with faith and self-doubt as most of us do, but he surely sets some excellent examples with respect to leadership. When he addresses his army on the brink of the battle he says to then in Judges 7:17, “look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do.”

We should never tell others to go somewhere or to something that we ourselves are not willing to go or do. That’s the key to spiritual leadership. I believe the greatest example of this was Jesus himself. He calls us to pick up our cross and follow him, but not from behind us. He calls us to “follow” him. None of us have the exact same cross but we’re all called to bear it, daily, and follow him. He never sends us somewhere he has not already gone.

In one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas, The Gondoliers, the Duke of Plaza-Toro sings:

In enterprise of martial kind,
When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind—
He found it less exciting.

We can’t lead from behind. It just doesn’t work. One writer observes that the butcher drives the flock to the slaughter house; the shepherd leads the flock beside the still waters.