Over the past 10 entries I’ve sought to identify some of the key traits of a spiritual leader. Here is the listing in summary fashion:
1. To first and foremost develop rhythms of Scripture, Prayer and Reflection in their personal prayer closets. Here we enter holy spaciousness to listen attentively to the fresh movement of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in a delightful place of silence and solitude. Practicing these means of grace on a regular basis opens us up to a lifestyle of spiritual renewal and transformation.
2. To honor and maintain Sabbath as a holy day set apart for rest and reflection, worship and relationships. Sabbath as a day of the week set apart for rest underscores the Sabbath-lifestyle of the spiritual rhythms we seek to embrace throughout our week.
3. To embrace a prayerful intention to grow as a listener: Listening first and foremost to God, through His Word, in prayer and creation, and then in community, life experiences, disappointments and joys, the leader develops a heart for listening and noticing God. But, when a leader emerges from the prayer closet and enters the world of service, it’s important that a leader listen to those s/he serves. An additional person to listen to is oneself…self-awareness comes from internal listening and the “aha” of the conscience.
4. To know our true selves…knowing ourselves begins with an acceptance of our two-fold blessedness as beloved children of God, as well as our inclination toward brokenness, as evidenced in our self-absorption, sinfulness, and residual idolatries that occupy our hearts.
5. To experience vitality in our walk with Christ and in service to others, it’s essential that we consider Crafting a Rule of Life, the topic and title of my latest book with InterVarsity Press. When a leader is aware of his/her unique geography in the Kingdom of God, one begins to recognize with clarity God’s thumbprint on their life, and respond with a growing desire to fulfill their particular footprint for faithful, daily living. What is a personal rule of life? It is “a holistic description of the Spirit-empowered rhythms and relationships that create, redeem, sustain, and transform the life God invites you to humbly fulfill for Christ’s glory.”
6. To develop the importance of spiritual community and the significance of serving others as a team. Spiritual leaders understand that our role is to equip the team for the work of ministry, rather than do it all ourselves. The work of ministry is balancing a life with God in the contemplative place of prayerfulness and obedience to Christ, with active service meeting the needs of those to whom the team has been called.
7. To learn how to move slower and to practice the spiritual discipline of noticing God – in His Word, in our prayers, and in our daily lives. We need to discover the beauty of God’s creation at a pace where we can actually enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, the chirping of the birds, the wonders of a wooded pathway, or the splendor of a mountaintop vista. As we exit our prayer chairs and reengage in our ministry settings, spiritual leaders are best served by considering decision making, program development, and any new initiative more organically than strategically.
8. To value authenticity and truth telling, especially in relation to the gospel message we proclaim, the Christ-like life we are called to embody, and the invitation we offer to others to follow the same. In the context of our ministry teams and faith communities, it’s incumbent upon the spiritual leader to model an authentic lifestyle toward others. In so doing, we invite those we are called to lead into a genuine walk of faith by being ushered into the gospel message and the Christian life of truth-telling that will set us all free.
9. To recognize that the transformation process takes time, even if welcomed initially by radical change. This primarily organic process includes the deliberate work of spiritual discernment, decision-making, change management, strategic planning, continual improvement, and ongoing evaluation.
10. To leave behind a legacy of grace, joy and peace, knowing that our 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.
These are the essential ingredients of spiritual leadership, into which every other leadership responsibility is included. Sit prayerfully with each of these ten and consider God’s invitation for you. I welcome your feedback and pray God’s blessing on your role as leader in the body of Christ. Pursue spiritual leadership with humility of heart, teachability, flexibility, and authenticity. God will certainly honor your humble desires and bless your faithful efforts!