Editorial

Spiritual leadership

When the leaders whom God calls allow Him to have complete control of their lives, the spirit of self-sacrifice, servanthood, and humility will exert a power for good over those they influence.

Wilie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministry Magazine

When I lecture on the sub­ject of leadership, I ask the participants to name three individuals—biblical or nonbiblical, alive or deceased—whom they con­sider to be leaders, and why. The responses generally revolve around qualities that manifest themselves in actions: for example, Moses was a del­egator; Nehemiah was a visionary; and Martin Luther King Jr. was a motivator.

So often when discussions take place about leadership, we place the focus on the externals. As necessary as these attributes are, there are other qualities that carry a more spiritual tone. Indeed, spirituality must be at the foundation of delegation, vision, and motivation. But it is possible to delegate, cast a vision, and motivate without being spiritual.

So what does the Bible say about spiritual leadership? What does such a person look like?

Self-sacrificing

The children of Israel, under the guidance of Aaron, were worshiping a golden calf. At that moment, it mat­tered very little to them how much Moses or the Ultimate Leader, God Himself, had done for them. They insisted on pursuing their own agenda.

God spoke to Moses, saying, “‘Let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation’” (Exod. 32:10).* Moses pleaded with God to not annihilate His chosen ones. “‘Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people’” (v. 12). The next day Moses pleaded with God again. “‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!’” (vv. 31, 32).

God seeks spiritual leaders who place the interests of their flock above those of their own—for Christ set this example.

A servant

The mother of James and John requested of Jesus that He place her two sons on either side of Him—mak­ing them great in the kingdom they all expected Him to establish.

Jesus dashed her delusions of grandeur with a sweeping statement: “‘Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Matt. 20:26–28).

A servant? A slave? It couldn’t get any lower than that in Jewish soci­ety. But Jesus exemplified His belief system when, as recorded in John 13, He poured water into a basin and washed the feet of His proud disciples. “‘I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. . . . A slave is not greater than his master’” (John 13:15, 16).

God seeks spiritual leaders who consider others before themselves­ not living for self, rather, living to bless others.

Humble

Reflecting on the life of Christ, Paul wrote to the church in Philippi: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself. . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedi­ent to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5–8).

Humility is among the rarest of qualities in earthly leaders. Hubris, arrogance, conceit, and narcissism seem to be the order of the day. But the spiritual leader does not think highly of himself (see Phil. 2:3); rather, he or she willingly fades into the back­ground—often lifting others up onto the pedestal that some consider right­fully belonging to the leader.

The leader does not maintain humility for personal gain or glory. Indeed, humility earned Jesus’ death on a cross. But God Himself notes the humility of the leader and rewards him or her in His own time (see Phil. 2:9). Humanity may never applaud the humble leader; but such a one doesn’t mind, because it’s not about the earthly leader; it’s about the heavenly Leader and those for whom He died.

God seeks spiritual leaders who empty themselves and allow the Holy Spirit to fill them with His presence and power so that they may uplift others.

When the leaders whom God calls allow Him to have complete control of their lives, the spirit of self-sacrifice, servanthood, and humility will exert a power for good over those they influence. The example of their lives informs leadership theory and approaches—be it delegation, consultation, participa­tion, and so forth—and the church and society will be moved for God!

* All scriptural references are from the New American Standard Bible.


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Wilie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministry Magazine

April 2015

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