by Tracy W. Jaggers
There is a marked difference between leadership and “spiritual” leadership. There are lots of successful and effective leaders in the business world, but there are few that get people to follow their vision to the grave. As much as I hate to say this, Adolf Hitler could be considered a spiritual leader. He convinced a large German populace to follow his vision for ruling the world. Yes, he was deceived and probably even demonic, but he impassioned people of all ages, even religious leaders, to follow his strategy.
So, what is the distinction here? I define leadership as the power, capacity or ability to lead other people. Spiritual leadership is defined as the God-given ability to set goals and declare God’s vision to the body of Christ in such a way that believers voluntarily and harmoniously join in those goals as their worship offering to the Lord. With that being said, here are the character qualities I believe are vital to successful spiritual leadership:
Listen without mentally critiquing the speaker’s motives or ideas. Affirming the speaker, as you listen, reveals you are engaged in the discussion.
Expect the best from every follower – don’t be negative. Not everyone will do it YOUR way. Allow for personal creativity and innovation.
Adjust your ideas and plans to coincide with the Lord’s vision – reject self-centeredness. Let the process be fluid enough so the Lord can offer options along the way – then join Him.
Direct all praise for any success to the Lord – this is NOT about you. If you find yourself angry or disappointed, it’s probably because the goals are yours and not His!
Encourage willing obedience to God’s plans instead of reluctant compliance. Following the Lord or leading His flock because you have to, is not the same as loving to serve Him because He first loved you.
Respect everyone – from the greatest to the least; from those “under” you to those “over” you. Give preference to one another. Never look down on others, because He has chosen the weak. Publicly acknowledge every follower’s hard work and discipline or correct privately.
Search for the best way to accomplish the Lord’s plans. Take it step by step – Nehemiah was a great example of this!
Hold fast to the Word – the Bible must be your Standard Operating Procedures.
Involve every believer in the journey. Let everyone know they are a vital part of the body of Christ and as such, all should serve. We must never allow anyone to sit on the sidelines.
Pray fervently for the wisdom, guidance, protection and blessing of the Lord. If it is not His plans, then it will probably falter or fail. Prayer is the key to success!
Did you find yourself in this list of the productive spiritual leader characteristics? I hope so. We are living in time when it is imperative for us to be competent, productive, and compelling leaders. We must be evangelistically-effective and spiritually-consistent so others ask why we have hope, love, joy and peace. Leaders must mirror the vision the Lord has shown us and we must lovingly recruit every believer to join that vision. We cannot afford to let down our congregation, the lost, or the Lord.