The 3D Leader

Leadership takes on as many forms as there are personalities. Some are sharp and abrasive while others are more meek and mild. God has used each type of leader effectively. Sometimes we have a tendency to think everyone should have our personality to be effective. That’s not so. However, there are some abrasive leaders who do need to learn a little more compassion. Then again, there are other leaders who seem to have an extra-dose of mercy when confrontation is order. While God can use each of our personalities, all leaders must be willing to submit their personality to the will of God.

” When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” 

Acts 15:2

Paul and Barnabas could be seen as opposite personalities. Paul was strong and decisive while Barnabas was more calm and compassionate. However, we find them united in purpose when doctrinal heresy creeps into the church. They implemented what we will call 3D leadership.

3D leadership is the appropriate combination of Dissension, Disputation and Determination.


Every effective leader will come to the place where confrontation is necessary. While God’s Word teaches us to be slow to wrath and slow to anger, it doesn’t tell us to be so slow we never get there. There is a time and place where we can be angry and still sin not. Let us not forget how the Prince of Peace turned over the tables at the temple. Our leadership should not be characterized  by a caustic personality but there comes a time when we must take a stand.


We must forcefully dissent against all that hinders the work of God that has been entrusted to us. A leader will dispute false allegations designed to undermine his leadership and the work of God. Determination says that the leader will not give in just because it is difficult. People will often attempt to make a dispute about personality and power. The Leader is always focused on the revealed Word of God, the health of the church and the safety of the flock.


When you know that you are right because you have God’s Word behind you, stand your ground. This is different from standing your ground just because you are stubborn. I counseled with a pastor friend who was standing his ground in the midst of conflict. Yet every reason he gave for standing his ground revolved around himself. After listening carefully. When I observed that not one reason he gave was biblical or based on God’s Word, he looked me in the eye and said, “I know.” This isn’t the 3D leadership we find in Acts 15. It is never about us but rather the work of God.

You don’t have to be abrasive or caustic to dissent, dispute and be determined. But a true and godly leader will dissent and dispute with determination when necessary or he will be an ineffective leader. The result of 3D leadership, as practiced by Paul and Barnabas, was rejoicing and consolation in the church. Good people appreciate a leader who will take a right stand.


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