Does a Leader’s Appearance Matter Anymore?

by Max Dawson

Daniel was a prophet of God who was among the first captives taken by Nebuchadnezzar from Jerusalem to Babylon in 605 BC. He, along with some other Hebrew captives, were highly spoken of (Daniel 1:4). They are described as "...young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans."

These young men demonstrated courage and faith in standing for what was right. They refused to yield to the temptations presented to them in Babylon. As a result of their convictions, God blessed them (Daniel 1:9, 15). The remainder of the book of Daniel gives numerous examples of how Daniel and his three friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) stood for what was right and served God's purposes--even though they were in captivity.

While a lesson on conviction from the book of Daniel would be of value, I want to go in a different direction. I want to address a leader's appearance as he stands before his audience. I point back to Daniel 1:4, where the text speaks of the young men "in whom there was no blemish, but good looking..." While the NKJV says, "good looking," the ESV translates the Hebrew in this text as "good appearance."

These young men were chosen for a special purpose, in part because of their appearance. Not every man can be called "handsome," but he can present himself well and reasonably when he stands before his audience.

You have probably noticed a change in preachers' appearance in the last couple of years. Or maybe you haven't. If you haven't, it may just be that your preacher is still trying his best to appear clean and neatly dressed before his audience--rather than being unkempt and disheveled in appearance.

Some argue that one's personal appearance doesn't matter because "God looks on the heart" (II Samuel 16:7). But that text is talking about the condition of one's heart; it does not teach that a leader's personal appearance does not matter.

The order of the day for preachers (and others) is to dress casually when leading public worship. That can be so extreme as for a preacher to wear a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts. I get it. I understand that casual dress can help you identify with your audience. But casual can also mean careless in appearance. "Careless in appearance" communicates something to the audience. It can say, "I am careless in my work, in my study, and (in a general way) I am careless and undisciplined in my whole life." We never want to say that!

It is difficult for a man to teach others to lead a disciplined life if he appears not to lead such a life himself. I will probably catch some complaints for saying that a leader's personal appearance matters, but I think it wise for godly men to present themselves decently and reasonably as they lead the worship of God. What do you think?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email