This is a paper I was required to write for my graduate class Studies of Spiritual Leadership.
The purpose of this paper is to establish a “personal leadership guide” using principles learned from the required texts in the Intermediate Study of Leadership in Woman’s Ministry course. This paper will address insights and practical applications from the books Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. In addition to the knowledge obtained from these books, biblical wisdom will be applied using the Holy Bible as a filter and sword to divide the truth (Hebrews 4:12). The combination of the reading, reflection and application of all of this material has provided a basic foundation for practical application of leadership in ministry with an emphasis in my personal and most important leadership role as a mother.
Key words: leadership, ministry, leader
Leader. The title causes one to visualize a person with great influence having a large penthouse corner office with windows, usually male, wearing a suit and tie with a six-figure or higher salary. Is that a true and accurate picture of a leader? Can you be a leader and still accomplish the will and plan of God? In this my Personal Leadership Guide, I would like to define the qualifications of a spiritual leader and how they apply to my own personal role as a leader.
What is Spiritual Leadership?
In both books on spiritual leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby and J. Oswald Sanders, the authors discuss the role of influence in the life of a leader. “Influence is fundamental to a leaders role. It is not enough to know where people should go; leaders must have the capacity to move them to that place” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 147). Sanders agrees saying that “leadership is influence”. He continues by saying that “leaders move others” (Sanders, 2007, p. 27). In reading both books, I would naturally question, “Am I a leader?” The fact is we all have the ability to influence others. The key for the Christian is discovering if we are influencing towards God’s goals or our own agenda. Blackaby & Blackaby (2011) subtitled their book Moving People on to God’s Agenda. Whether we are called to lead a church, a Fortune 500 company, or our family, Blackaby & Blackaby (2011) outlines three worthy goals for the spiritual leader: developing people, equipping others, and glorifying God.
The greatest call as a leader is to develop people by taking them from where they are to where God wants them to be. “God’s primary concern for people is not results but relationship” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 127). A key quality of a spiritual leader is to hear, recognize and respond to the voice of the Lord. In developing people, the leader must then teach the same so they too will increase in their relationship with God. “Once the people learn to recognize God’s voice and determine his leading, the organization will have enormous potential for serving God” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 130). A part of developing people is to equip the people we lead for the same work. “One of the worst mistakes leaders commit is making themselves indispensable” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 133). It is the responsibility of the leader to develop leaders and not fail in this task as we have seen in the life of Samuel. As referenced in 1 Samuel 8:1-5, Samuel did not prepare a successor and therefore set up the nation of Israel for rebellion at his death. From developing people to equipping them to do the same, a spiritual leader needs to do this all within the context of glorifying God. “Spiritual leaders can not relentlessly pursue their own personal goals and glorify God at the same time” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 142). The most perfect example of a leader that glorified God in His leadership was Jesus. There were many instances when Jesus was asked to do something but obeyed the timing of His Father’s will rather than the requests of the people (John 2:1-4, John 11:6).
Personal Role as a Leader
With this definition of spiritual leadership in being able to influence people by leading them towards Gods agenda, I can apply this to my own personal life and leadership roles. With prayer and reflection of the content of both books the Lord showed me the most significant area of leadership in my life this season is motherhood. I began applying the principles learned not to my role as a teacher or vocation in the future in woman’s ministry but right now as a mother. It was quite powerful and enlightening. Sanders (2007) states that “to be spirit-filled is indispensable” (Sanders, 2007, p. 77). My role as a mom is to lead my daughter beyond the circumstances of her past, provide an example of intimacy with God and trust the legacy He is establishing.
With the death of my husband and Avery’s lack of father, I have always been concerned that she would have less of a chance to grow into an emotionally healthy young lady. The past does not have to have a negative effect on her future because; “numerous well known leaders lost a parent to death, usually their father, while they were still young” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 56). Because God is faithful and promises to be a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), I can know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Beyond the circumstances of our past I have been able to submit to His will throughout the process and therefore God is bringing character development and personal growth for me and she follows my example (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 70). As I grow closer to the Lord and increase my intimacy with Him, I am watching her do the same. “As people grow in their relationship with God, they will hear from him and want to follow him. Following God will be their natural heart response” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 110).
Lastly, I can trust the legacy He is building through me. As with Abraham, “God didn’t chose Abraham because of his leadership ability. He selected Abraham because of his heart” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 81). It is the story of many saints of the Bible that God used to lead His people. “God may begin a work in one generation and bring it to fruition in succeeding generations” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 76). Therefore in this Personal Leadership Guide, I was able to apply the principles of the texts using the Bible for dividing the truth and applied it to my leadership role as a mother and found hope.
Blackaby, Henry & Richard (2011), Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.
Sanders, J. Oswald (2007), Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.