What is spiritual leadership?
(modified from an article on CRU website called “Spiritual Leadership”
According to Jesus, we are in a leadership crisis. In fact, we have been in a leadership crisis for the past 2,000 years! In Matthew 9:37, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” There is more work to be done than laborers and leaders willing to work. When looking at spiritual leadership, we may need to set aside some traditional thinking on what makes a leader. Yes, spiritual leaders are change agents. Yes, they influence followers. Yes, they accomplish objectives. What sets spiritual leaders apart from secular leaders is motives. We march to the beat of a different drummer. A spiritual leader is always a person being led before he or she is a leader. And the goal is always the other persons growth over our own. Jesus set an example for us as a leader who came to serve.
In Matthew 20:24-28 Jesus explained how kingdom values affected leadership style. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus did not criticize a person’s desire for leadership, he simply defined the path to that leadership. A servant leader is committed to the success of another.
In John 13:1-17 we see Jesus in action. He took on the role of a servant and washed the disciple’s feet. After washing the disciple’s feet he concludes with this poignant lesson on leadership; “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher [and Leader], have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14)
The essence of spiritual leadership is following Jesus’ example of serving others. The tasks of leadership may vary. You will lead programs, people and projects. But the heart of spiritual leading never changes. We don’t move from servanthood on to something else. The silver thread running through everything we do is that of servant-leadership. Leadership that does not involve servanthood is not spiritual leadership. Once we stop serving, we stop walking in Christ’s footsteps of leadership. The style of a Christian leader will always be serving and caring--having a high concern for the task but a higher concern for the people involved.