What Really Makes a Spiritual Leader?

As believers, we recognize the value of imitating Jesus and His leadership style. But if we really think about it, it’s strange that we try to emulate a leader who never developed an organization, regularly encouraged people to stop following Him, and ultimately saw His death as the pinnacle of His accomplishments.

What kind of perspective must a leader have to place high value on these kinds of strategies? Jesus was not a manager. His primary role was to function as a spiritual leader.

Not all leaders in religious organizations are spiritual leaders. This is not a criticism as much as a distinction. Distinguishing spiritual leadership from other forms of leadership can free people from unrealistic expectations of some leaders.

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At the same time, making this distinction can help identify who the spiritual leaders in your organization are. Here are six characteristics that identify most spiritual leaders:

1. They lead others into their own encounters with God.

One of the most effective things about Jesus’ lifestyle was that He didn’t switch into another mode to introduce His disciples to the reality of God. Whether standing in the synagogue or picking wheat along the path, interacting with the Father was so natural that others around Him could not help but do the same. Whether a spiritual leader is training a new employee or working through a difficult conflict resolution, his followers will discover their own connection to God more deeply in the process.

2. They lead others to discover their own purpose and identity.

Spiritual leadership is characterized by great generosity. A spiritual leader genuinely wants others to fully discover who they were made to be. Workplace issues and strategic development become tools to help followers discover their own identity and overcome obstacles standing in their way. People functioning in an area of their created identity and strength will always be more productive than those who are simply trying to fill a position or role.

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bob@gatewaychurch.org'
Bob Hamp is the Executive Pastor, Pastoral Care Ministries, at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. He was a counselor in private practice for sixteen years and holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is also the author of "Think Differently, Live Differently: Keys to a Life of Freedom."