Different representatives of society have a personal view of leadership. For someone, it can be a high position and control over people, and for others, it is a way of self-approval. In turn, the spiritual leader uses ministry and influence to guide people in following God’s Word. At the same time, the pastor does not have such authority and incentives as managers in the financial world or military ones but relies only on leadership qualities and Bible principles.
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Spiritual leadership is not like the leadership of various organizations – it is not based on authority over others, the desire for success, or love for profit. Jesus warned against such conduct: “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them / But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” (“Matthew 20:25-28”). Church leaders serve people and build relationships with them on trust. Courage is needed to open up to people, guide them, and teach God’s Word. Spiritual leaders assume responsibility for the development and salvation of man’s soul, and in such a difficult task, their fears can become an obstacle.
Guided by Bible texts, one can identify the principles of leadership. For example, the spiritual leader has to be guided by love for neighbors and the Lord: “Let love be without dissimulation” (“Romans 12:9-13”). Principles such as modesty and humility also occupy an important place (“Philippians 2:3”). Essential principles of leadership also include wisdom, serving God, the desire for honesty, and hatred of covetousness (“Deuteronomy 1:13”; “Exodus 18:21”). These concepts are crucial, but in addition to them, a spiritual leader should have strong character traits to be able to lead people.
Alan Fong, Pastor of Heritage Baptist Church, highlighted several qualities essential to the spiritual leader. First, hard work is manifested in the ability to carry out the planned tasks responsibly and carefully. Second, integrity is vital for the development of authority, recognition, and correction of errors. Third, insight assumes that the leaders know where they seek, prevent weaknesses, and reveal strengths (Fong). Fourth, is the initiative – the leader does not expect a call to action but sees the task and does it. Fifth, the pastor initiates others to perform a particular activity, and the sixth quality is important here – leaders inspire by their example and by revealing the best qualities of people. Based on these characteristics, it can be argued that spiritual leaders gain influence through their faithful service to God and inspire others.
The ability that unites all leaders – political, financial, and others, including spiritual – is the power to respond to current events and find answers to crises. Paul Chappell, a senior pastor of the Lancaster Baptist Church, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, noted the difficulties people face and their need for leaders (0:18 – 0:53). Since difficult times are often a test of human faith, the quality the leader needs is a sense of calling. The belief is that by passing through difficult times a person serves God, and can comfort and give strength to inspire others.
Compassion from the leader and his honesty about life following the proclaimed principles are also essential to support people. Moreover, the leader needs to find the appropriate words, and express a certain level of support – the right spirit (Chappell 11:27 – 12:02). Another outstanding quality is the ability to awaken the best sides of people. In difficult times, negative features come to the fore, and for this reason, it is crucial to remind people about their strengths. Thus, spiritual leadership has different directions, and the pastor must be guided by wisdom to give people exactly the guidance and example they need in a specific situation.
An example of a strong spiritual leader is Nehemiah, who showed courage, wisdom, and initiative. Having learned from a brother about the Jews’ distress in Judah, he was filled with compassion for his people. Nehemiah was a cup-bearer at the royal court, and when the ruler asked why he was sad, the cup-bearer felt fear. However, having found forces in prayer, he told about the problem and showed an initiative: “So I prayed to the God of heaven. / And I said unto the king, If it pleases the king, and if thy servant has found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it” (“Nehemiah 2”).
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His request shows modesty, integrity, and courage – essential leader characteristics. Nehemiah managed to manifest leadership qualities to rebuild Jerusalem by attracting residents to work and inspiring them. After completing the construction, the inhabitants managed to feel God’s love.
Summing up, spiritual leadership differs significantly from the forms common in politics, business, and other areas. Pastors gain influence by serving God and people and thanks to personal qualities – modesty, initiative, courage, hard work, and other traits. Spiritual leaders lead people in various situations, and therefore it is crucial for them to feel in leadership calling, to be able to choose the right guidance and support for people. By finding encouragement in the Bible and prayer, they can inspire people and give them strength.
“Deuteronomy 1:13.” The King James Version Bible. Web.
“Exodus 18:21.” The King James Version Bible. Web.
Chappell, Paul. “Leadership Qualities for Turbulent Times: Spiritual Leadership Podcast.” Paul Chappell. 2020. Web.
Fong, Alan. “6 Key Traits of a Leader.” Ministry 127. 2018. Web.
“Matthew 20:25-28.” The King James Version Bible. Web.
“Nehemiah 2.” The King James Version Bible. Web.
“Philippians 2:3.” The King James Version Bible. Web.
“Romans 12:9-13.” The King James Version Bible. Web.