Question: Are you a godly leader?
Every one of us is a leader in some sense, because we all have people that look up to us and emulate our example.
There are many kinds of leaders who function in different environments. Some do so in a political arena, others in a business or educational contexts, some in volunteer organizations, others through various media outlets, some on sports teams, and others in churches.
In recent decades, numerous books have been written on the topic of leadership, along with secular business principles and educational philosophies. But what precisely does leadership mean? What qualities mark a true godly leader?
My underlying premise is that every Christian, irrespective of their age, gender, marital status or ability-level, is called to be a leader in God’s kingdom.
Authentic spiritual leadership begins by following Jesus, who is the ultimate example for our lives.
Christ was a servant leader. Elements worth exploring concerning his unprecedented leadership style include the following: (1) His mode of thinking, (2) His manner of speaking, (3) His method of responding, and (4) His main concerns and priorities in life. By investigating these aspects of Christ’s life, we are able to come closer to figuring out what made him tick.
We can only do so by knowing Christ intimately well. Jesus must serve as our primary model, mentor, motivation and message.
We are all called to the ministry of spiritual leadership within our respective spheres of influence, whether it be our family, school, church, work, community, or world. There is always someone who is watching us, even when we don’t realize it.
Misconceptions abound regarding spiritual leadership. Many people picture a military officer issuing orders or a boss managing his or her employees. While these aspects can certainly constitute a part of leadership, they’re not the essence of it. In fact, spiritual leadership is totally opposite to what most people think.
You see, spiritual leadership is servant leadership.
Jesus Christ himself taught us, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Jesus sacrificially served alongside of His loyal followers in the most humble of ways.
Thus spiritual leadership involves performing the tasks that no one else is willing to do. It requires getting our hands dirty and pulling our weight. In Jesus’ time, the act of washing feet was assigned to the lowliest of servants. However, at the Last Supper, Jesus humbled himself and washed his disciples’ feet and called his followers to do likewise (John 13:12-17).
Having a spirit of humility and service will inspire others to follow you out of love and respect, rather than fear or obligation.
The apostle Paul summed it up well when he said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Meekness is the attitude that puts others ahead of yourself and that considers others’ needs as being more important than your own.
The Bible says of the great Israelite leader Moses, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Thinking too highly of yourself will keep you from genuinely caring about others. It will also prevent them from following you.
Spiritual leadership also requires integrity. People seldom want to follow a person they don’t trust or respect. Most individuals are repulsed by those whom they can’t trust to tell the truth. Proverbs 16:13 says, “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.”
So how can you go about developing qualities of effective spiritual leadership in your life?
- First, pray to God for wisdom on how you can become a better leader (James 1:5).
- Second, ask God to transform your heart and develop the character traits in you that are required for godly leadership (1 Cor. 13:4-7; Gal. 5:22-23).
- Third, rely on God’s power to give you the strength and courage necessary to exhibit spiritual leadership. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example and model of godly leadership. He served effectually, though humbly, and with integrity and honesty.
What kind of leader do you want to be?