A leaders inner life with God is the first priority of a spiritual leader. This leads one outward into the context of team and community. Together, spiritual communities serve others in Jesus’ name. Each of the first nine segments of this series on spiritual leadership covered one or more variations of these themes.
However, when all is said and done, a spiritual leader desires to leave behind a legacy of grace, joy and peace, knowing that their role here on earth is all about building up the Kingdom of God, strengthening the Church of God, and encouraging others toward a life filled with love for God. Michael Youseff put it this way, “One characteristic of good leaders is that they prepare others to take over. They don’t just prepare their followers to ‘do well’ but prepare them to do everything they are doing themselves.” Isn’t this exactly what Jesus did with his disciples?
Could you walk away from your leadership responsibilities and leave your ministry intact today? Are you empowering a new generation of leaders to step in and take over from where you have left off? Are you preparing a foundation from which those who follow you can do greater things than you have done?
Most of us in leadership positions would rather avoid these questions than answer them. We are so engrossed in our day-to-day responsibilities that we have neglected the preparation of future leadership. Or at least most of us are not proactively and strategically covering this essential ingredient of effective spiritual leadership. We don’t necessarily mean to do so – many of us are just not sure how to leave a legacy. Mentoring and discipling others to lead is the only answer I know. With outstretched arms of love, we release ministry into capable hands, knowing that those who follow us will be led by the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who led us up to this point. We come alongside the ‘next generation’ of leaders and hand them the keys to the ministry as often as possible so they are prepared to pick up where we left off.
I would suggest this legacy includes several facets. First of all, when we lead others out of a spirit of joy, grace and peace, we embed into the hearts of others godly attitudes and motivations that are continuously purified by the love of Christ. Secondly, if unity on our team is a top priority, then a spirit of encouragement and empowerment will release others into their God-designed place(s) of servant leadership. Thirdly, if we are entrusting others with faithful leadership, then we must invite them into meaningful service each new day. Fourthly, if integrity is a part of our legacy, then we must be teaching principles and practices that embody the richness and vitality of truthfulness and reliability today. Fifthly, if our leadership is to last beyond ourselves, then this generation and the next need to embrace the vision and mission of the ministry today, owning it in their hearts and lives and ensuring its careful release into the future.
With all the demands for our time and attention this and every day, leaders don’t often ponder the significance of legacy. Far better for a leader to proactively attend to this now than to reap sloppy results in the future. Pray that the cascading effect of your leadership will be felt for generations, and faithfully listen to the promptings of God’s Spirit today in this regard. Choose wisely those who you will invest in today and pray fervently for God’s will to be continued long after you’ve departed from the scene. May it be so: for the glory of God, the sake of His Kingdom, and the flourishing of His Church.