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When 12 spies were sent by Moses to explore Canaan, 10 of them returned with a discouraging report. They saw a land with powerful people and large fortified cities, and strongly discouraged the people from entering the land. Caleb and Joshua saw the same land differently and strongly encouraged the people to go up and take possession of the landTwelve people had sight but only two had insight.

INSIGHT is a critical quality that characterises great leaders and the decisions they make.

It separates leaders from followers and great leaders from ordinary leaders and can be defined as perspective, intuition, vision and discernment. However, insight can be compromised by logic, precedence, fear, legalism and traditions.

Jesus was a person of insight and often saw things that others did not see. The religious leaders of His day sent spies to catch Him out in something He said, but “He saw through their duplicity.” (Luke 20:23)

On another occasion, we read, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:5)

Leaders possess INSIGHT which causes them to see more than others see...

00368_00642.pngfurther than others see...

before others see and...

deeper than others see.


Leaders are not defined by their title or qualifications but rather by their ability to influence a group of people to achieve a particular task. To do this they possess a number of qualities, one of these being their insight that causes them to see things that others don’t see.



Leaders see : 

a.) The Way God Shaped Them

Leaders are readers of themselves and find their calling as they understand their spiritual gifts and personality and what God has put on their heart to do. They see a destiny that has been entrusted to them and also a legacy that will follow after them.

b.) Their Strengths And Weaknesses

They serve in their strengths and recruit to their weaknesses. They understand that insight includes having a correct perception of themselves.

c.) Their Need For Mentors

They identify people more gifted and qualified who can help them get to the next level in their leadership journey.

d.) The Cost Involved To Achieve Their Calling 

They are not surprised by the price they will need to pay to achieve God’s purposes for their lives. They discipline themselves to prepare for the challenges they know will be ahead of them.

e.) The Seasons Of Life That Come Their Way 

They realise “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven….” Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Consequently, leaders submit and respond to the seasons of their lives (some unexpected) with timely insight and confident trust in the God who is leading them through each season.


Leaders see : 

a.) What The Father Is Doing And Saying

They don’t establish their own goals, rather like Jesus, they can say, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working……I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He can only do what He SEES HIS FATHER DOING……” John 5:17,19

b.) What They Can Achieve With God’s Resources

Leaders are not limited by what they can do with their resources, rather they see what they can achieve with God’s unlimited resources. They know that God’s will done in God’s way will never lack God’s resources.

c.) The Sovereignty Of God

They see God purposefully at work in all the experiences of life, good and bad. (Romans 8:28) Paul didn’t see a prison as a place of captivity, but rather a mission field where “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)

d.) The Eternal

“For we fix our eyes not on what is SEEN, but what is UNSEEN. For what is SEEN is temporal, but what is UNSEEN is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

e.) The Kingdom of God 

They have a vision of the transformation that God can make in a community when they pray for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done; when they see the new creation that those in Christ can become.

John Maxwell writes,

“Leaders have the ability to step back from what is happening at the moment and see not only where they are and their people have gone, but also where they are headed in the future. Leaders see everything with a leadership bias, and as a result they instinctively, almost automatically know what to do.”

We grow in insight as we transition from seeing reality (little r) from a human perspective to Reality (big R) from God’s perspective.

Some of the great breakthroughs in life for me have come, not because circumstances changed, or people around me changed, but rather because I changed. I started to see people and circumstances differently. I had new insight and in the process, I was developing an intuitiveness that gave me a new cutting edge to the way I would approach the calling that had been entrusted to me. 

I began to believe that God had a unique plan for my life, and that like Jesus, I only needed to do what I saw the Father doing (John 5:19). Gradually life became more of an adventure and I was being set free from the limitations I had grown to accept in the way I saw things and the way I thought about things.

I started to read books and attend conferences with the goal of finding principles that would help me unlock God’s great purposes for my life rather than learning how to copy what God had shown someone else.

And through the eyes of faith I saw opportunities and challenges I hadn’t seen before and I was attracting people I hadn’t met before.

John Maxwell said:

“Leadership intuition is often the factor that separates the greatest leaders from the merely good ones.... The best way to describe this bias is an ability to get a handle on intangible factors, understand them and work with them to understand leadership goals.... Intuitive leaders can sense what is happening among people and almost instantly know their hopes, fears and concerns...”


Leaders see:

a.) Emerging Leaders 

“When (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was really a disciple. But Barnabas took him to the apostles.” (Acts 9:26-27) Without Barnabas, we might never had heard of Paul. Unlike anyone else, Barnabas had the insight to see the potential in Paul, even though it would take time to develop.

b.) Faith in People's Hearts 

‘Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.’ (Acts 14:9-10)

Leaders realise that people with faith in God open doors for the power of God to be at work in them.

c.) Levels of Teachability in People

“Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

Leaders know that there are times to speak out and there are times to refrain from speaking out, according to the receptivity and teachability in people’s hearts.

d.) Deep Needs in People 

‘Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”’ (John 4:13-14)

Leaders see beyond the felt needs of people to the deeper needs that lay within their hearts, and they use the felt needs as a springboard to minister to the deeper needs.

e.) Chemistry Between People

It was an important lesson for me to realise that a ministry team of people needed more than appropriate levels of competence and character to be able to effectively work together. They also needed chemistry, which included a sharing of values, a mature level of emotional intelligence, an understanding of different personalities and agreeing on the game plan (or discipleship pathway). At times I needed to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t always helpful for certain people to work together and maybe it was appropriate for Paul and Barnabas to part company after their first missionary journey (Acts 15:36-41) Understanding the (unseen) chemistry that exists between people and understanding people’s body language are valuable assets in working with people.


Leaders see:

a.) Open Doors (and Closed Doors)

Do you not say, “Four months and then the harvest?” I tell you, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (now).”’ (John 4:35)

Leaders see opportunities (sometimes in moments of crisis) that must be seized without delay.

b.) Continuous Improvements

Leaders never become a slave to their surroundings. They have a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo. They keep picturing what the next level will look like. They never preach the same sermon just like they did last time. Leaders never arrive, they are always on a journey, the journey of excellence.

c.) Timing

Leaders know that they not only need to make the right decision, but they need to make it at the right time. Leaders that procrastinate or on the other hand are impulsive, can lose the cause even if they make the right decision.

d.) The Bottom Line

Leaders evaluate everything in regard to the ultimate goal and planned outcome. They have the ability to see through a maze of detail and information and stay focused on the bottom line. They stop the good things from getting in the way of the best things.

e.) Intangibles 

Leaders have the ability to lead and make decisions based on such invisibles as MOMENTUM, ATMOSPHERE, and MORALE. This is where their leadership gift has an intuitive quality that grows with experience and with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. 

f.) Strategically

‘Moses father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you, you cannot handle it alone.”’ (Exodus 18:17-18)

Leaders realise that with the passing of time and consequent growth in their ministry, both circumstances and strategies must change. Strategies are a leader’s servant and not their master. Through Jethro’s insight he saw something that Moses didn’t see and saved Moses from burnout and the people from standing around all day being frustrated from boredom and inactivity.



John Maxwell identified the following 3 levels of leadership:

  1. Those who NATURALLY see it
  2. Those who are NURTURED to see it 
  3. Those who will NEVER see it.

In leadership, there is so much more to take in than just what the eye can see. Consequently, leaders need to:

  1. Grow in intimacy with the Father and a sensitivity to what He is doing and saying. 
  2. Find mentors who can model and instruct them in developing this quality of insight. 
  3. Develop their leadership giftedness and in the process nurture the quality of insight.


Published on May 3, 2019

This article was originally published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/insight-separates-leaders-from-followers-denton-rod/


rod dentonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Denton has served as a pastor and as a teacher in the development of emerging leaders in Australia and 9 different countries across Asia with Asian Access. He now serves as a consultant for Rod Denton Equipping The Next Generation. Rod also serves part-time as the Mission's Resource Consultant with the Salvation Army. More information: www.roddentoneng.com.au

See also, Asian Access Faculty



Photo credit: unsplash-logoJoel Staveley


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