Principles of Spiritual Leadership

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

President Harry S. Truman once said: “A leader is a person who has the ability to get others to do what they don’t want to do, and like it.” This is a difficult task. As sinners saved by grace, we have a natural propensity towards self-centeredness and therefore don’t like being told what to do. When Jesus lead His disciples,  he taught them a radical command: to think of others as more highly than themselves. Furthermore, in Matthew 16:24 He states, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” These are difficult commands. How was Jesus able to persuade His followers to do what He said?

1. His confidence was in God: In John 5:19, when Jesus was at the pool of Bethesda healing the lame, the religious leaders began to grumble at Him for healing on the Sabbath day. In response, he told them that his Father is always working, even on the Sabbath day. Moreover, he told them that He can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing because whatever the Father does the Son does. The Trinitarian relationship is so intimate that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three separate persons, are one in essence. If the Son of God, who has the power to raise the dead and calm the storms relied on the Father in prayer, how much more should we, creatures made from the dust?

2. He was not ambitious, but humble and servant-minded: When Jesus came to Earth, He did not come to be exalted as a King. Instead, He humbled Himself and served others, even those who mocked, persecuted, and spat on His face as He hung on the cross bleeding for the sins of the world. Mark 10:45 tells us: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” If you desire to become a leader in a church so that you can have power and recognition, you chose the wrong vocation. Being a leader in a church requires self-sacrifice and a humble heart towards the congregation. It’s not what the church can do for you, but rather what you can do for the church.

3. He loved others unconditionally: Jesus Christ was a good leader because he loved people. As he went from city to city, the Scripture mentions that He had compassion for the lame, blind, and the outcasts. He would pray for enemies, be eager to forgive His disciples when they made a mistake, and was willing to cross cultural stigmas to spread the gospel to the world. If you want to be a good leader, the most important component is to love those whom you are serving.

Before Jesus left the Earth to ascend to His Father, He asked Peter on three occasions if he loved him. Peter said, Yes lord, you know I love you. Then Jesus responded: “Feed my sheep.” This is the call for every leader. First, have a confidence in God. If you don’t truly love Him, you will not be able to successfully lead others. Rely on His strength because he is all-powerful. Next, be humble. Good leaders will not flourish by barking out commands. Instead, they demonstrate their willingness to serve with a humble heart. Lastly, loving others unconditionally is vital. Though it’s difficult, we must learn to forgive others. I believe these three attributes are most important when it comes to being a spiritual leader.

Natural versus Spiritual Leader

A natural leader is self-confident, knows men, makes own decisions, is ambitious, creates methods, enjoys command, seeks personal reward, and is independent. A spiritual leader is confident in God, knows both God and man, seeks God’s will, is humble, follow’s God examples, delights in obedience to God, loves God and others, and depends on God.

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