Recently I led a workshop on spiritual leadership, during which each person crafted their own working definition of spiritual leadership. The depth and thoughtfulness of their work was impressive.
How would you describe spiritual leadership? How would you capture the core elements of leadership in a short statement?
Spiritual leadership is a sacred stewardship of guiding, influencing, serving, and inspiring others to fulfill God’s purposes based on the active work of God in the life of the leader.
While there is a truckload of concepts packaged snuggly into that single sentence, I want to shine the spotlight on the final few words: “based on the active work of God in the life of the leader.”
In direct contrast to everyday leadership where the leader is the SOURCE of direction and inspiration, spiritual leadership is about the leader being a CONDUIT of direction and inspiration. Big difference.
Spiritual leaders understand that ultimately they are pipelines. They realize that true spiritual leadership rises up from a life in concert with the Divine Leader. This is the essence and distinction of spiritual leadership. As such, the call is for the leader to be in constant communication with God.
You don’t have to look far to catch a glimpse of what constant communication looks like. Just show up at your local stadium and watch a football game. The coach is in constant communication with the quarterback by flashing signals from the sidelines or shuffling in new players with the next play. The quarterback is never in doubt about what play the coach wants run.
What are some ways to make sure that we are in constant communication with God so that He is ACTIVE in our lives and leadership? Let me offer a few thoughts for your consideration.
- Design a daily rhythm of throttling back the RPMs and quieting yourself before the Lord so that you can hear His voice above the noise and distraction of everyday life.
- Check in with the Lord early in the morning about the upcoming day’s appointment calendar asking Him to help you be attentive to His leading and wisdom in each situation, and alert to any audibles He may opt to call.
- Resist the temptation to ride the wave of yesterday’s communion with the Lord. Seek out His fresh supply of wisdom, insight, and guidance.
- Cultivate a holy curiosity by looking for God in the moments when you are least likely to think He will ‘show up’.
- Reflect throughout the day on some Scriptures that speak to the issues, needs, or challenges that are presently pressing in on you.
When it is all said and done, remember to rehearse repeatedly the reality that if you posture yourself as the SOURCE, you will ultimately (and quickly) wear yourself out; but as you serve as the CONDUIT, you become a channel of a never-ending supply of life-giving direction and inspiration for those who look to you for leadership.