A good leader, according to the Bible

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Last week, Dominic Raab – the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary – became the latest Cabinet Minister to resign, in response to an inquiry that found he had acted in an "intimidating" and "aggressive" way towards civil servants working for him.

Mr Raab hit back in his resignation letter, claiming that a minority of "activist civil servants" were trying to block the government's reforms. This is the latest twist in an ongoing debate about the impartiality of the civil service – which works behind the scenes to implement government policy, serving politicians of all political hues. Mr Raab's supporters state that his robust approach was simply an attempt to push forward reforms in the face of obstruction.

Certain parts of the press have blamed what they call "the Brexit-hating Whitehall blob" for forcing out ministers on trumped-up charges; a phrase coined by Dominic Cummings to describe the civil service establishment. He believed it was seeking to block government policies and overturn the democratic will of the people.

Other media outlets have blamed Mr Raab for "playing the victim", quoting officials who say that colleagues' lives were "shattered by his bullying and misconduct". Certainly his resignation letter was not that of a man who recognized his behaviour towards colleagues was unacceptable.

Once again we see two sides squaring up against each other in the culture wars that are splitting the country: reducing every debate to a stand-off between my decent views and your despicable ones.

But deeper than this, it raises the age-old questions of relationship and control: how do we exercise our power over other people? How do we treat one another? How do we work with people with whom we disagree?

Words are powerful: they can build up and destroy. The Bible has a lot to say about the unruly nature of our tongues and the damage we can inflict with our words. God knows that this is a massive area of human weakness, and we are left in no doubt, from reading the Psalms and Proverbs, that He places great value on how we relate to one another.

We are responsible for the way we treat others, but when we are angry or frustrated, we may speak harshly. It is easy to "sharpen (our) tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows," in the words of Psalm 64:3.

Psalm 15 asks: "Who may live on your holy mountain? The one ...whose tongue utters no slander....and casts no slur on others" (v.1, 3).

Proverbs 10 says: "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life" (v.11); "hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs" (v.12); and "the tongue of the righteous is choice silver" (v.20).

This does not mean that we should always seek to placate and give way to others if we believe they are wrong, but there are ways to make a persuasive argument that do not involve behaving rudely and aggressively to those with whom we disagree.

For those of us in positions of authority, we should be doubly aware of how we exercise that power. Jesus models what good, strong leadership really looks like: and it involves sacrifice, service of those in your care and humility, NOT lording it over and using others in order to establish or demonstrate your authority.

The world has it wrong when it comes to thinking about what a leader should look like, how they should act, what their posture to their team should be.

All of this is a reminder that bullies are bad leaders, indeed they are weak leaders.

Tim Farron has been the Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005, and served as the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party from 2015 to 2017.Tim is also the host of Premier's 'A Mucky Business' podcast. His new book A Mucky Business: Why Christians should get involved in politics is published in November.