Spiritual Leadership - The Ultimate Example
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of spiritual leadership. When most people think of leadership, they picture a military officer giving out orders or an employer closely supervising his employees, making sure all the work gets done. These aspects can be part of leadership, but they are not the essence of spiritual leadership.
Spiritual leadership is the opposite of what most people think. 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" (Matthew 20:28). Jesus was most definitely a leader. He was the leader of the twelve disciples and a much greater group of followers beyond them (Luke 10:1-17). Jesus did not lead by giving out orders or by supervising. Jesus led by being a servant and serving alongside of His followers.
Spiritual leadership involves humbling yourself and doing the tasks that no one else wants to do. In Jesus' time, the act of washing feet was to be assigned to the lowest of servants. However, at the last supper, Jesus humbled Himself and washed the disciples' feet. Afterwards he declared, "Do you understand what I have done for you? ... You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them" (John 13:12-17).
Spiritual Leadership - What does it take?
True spiritual leadership, with a spirit of humility and service, will cause people to follow you because they want to, not because they have to. Genuine humility and spiritual leadership is attractive. People want to follow a person who serves alongside them and sets an example for them. Perhaps the Apostle Paul sums it up best, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Spiritual leadership insists on humility. Humility is the attitude that puts others ahead of you, that considers others more important than yourself. It was said of Moses, the leader of over one million Israelites, "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). Thinking too highly of yourself prevents you from genuinely caring for others. Humility enables you to serve others wholeheartedly and thereby set an example that others will follow.
Spiritual leadership also requires integrity. People do not want to follow a person they do not respect. Speaking to servants, Ephesians 6:6-8 reads, "Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free." Further, spiritual leadership demands honesty. People are repulsed by a person they cannot trust to tell the truth. Proverbs 16:13 teaches us, "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth."
Spiritual Leadership - What are the results?
Genuine spiritual leadership has powerful results! Jesus began His ministry with twelve disciples. Once He finished training them to be servant leaders, He set them loose on the world. On their first day of ministry, over 3,000 people believed the message about Jesus (Acts 2:41). A few years later it was said of the disciples, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts 17:6 NKJV). The results of Jesus' leadership can be seen today in the hundreds of millions of people who call themselves Christians - followers of Christ.
How can you develop spiritual leadership in your life? First, pray to God for wisdom on how you can become a spiritual leader (James 1:5). Second, ask God to change your heart and to develop the character qualities in you that are required for spiritual leadership (1 Corinthians 3:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23). Third, rely on the power of God to give you the strength you need to exhibit spiritual leadership in your life. Philippians 4:13 declares, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
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