How To Demonstrate Effective, Spiritually Charged Leadership
I served as a Lead Pastor for well over two decades. In order to be the best I could be with the gifts I had been given, I relentlessly pursued outside activities and experiences that would sharpen my skills, from graduate school to continuing education, leadership conferences and seminars, I worked hard to achieve effective and transformative pastoral leadership.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes to a young, aspiring, and impressionable pastor named Timothy, and says these words:
"...I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction...keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5 (NIV)).
Good, great, got it, done! Who doesn’t want to follow Paul’s admonition? Who doesn’t want to be exceptional in what they do? As busy leaders, it would be easy to use a check list: today I study, on Sunday I teach, then I counsel, officiate at weddings and funerals, lead meetings with staff and elders, and on and on. Paul was one of the most motivating and inspiring leaders of all time. He was a theologian, author, public speaker, missionary, and apologist. Paul knew who he was, whose he was, and he had a purpose.
Paul’s extraordinary ministry however, was not through his heritage, education, or ambitions. He was passionate about being internally focused on his relationship with God. He knew and understood that leadership is an inside job, meaning the fruit of our leadership is in direct correlation to the condition of our inner person.
Inspired by the ministry of Paul, here are three keys for effective, spiritually charged leadership:
1. Be Authentic
Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not. Often, when I’m working with a church about finding their next staff person, the search team will share names with me of popular, well-known individuals who lead nationally recognized ministries. It’s always a tongue-in-cheek conversation, but they offer up these names up so that we can find someone “just like that” for them. I get it, we all have people that we look to, aspire to be a little more like, or they have qualities that attract our attention. I’m confident that some of us, at some point, secretly want to be someone we’re not and never will be. That’s a problem, it’s self-defeating, and it grieves our Creator.
To acknowledge and accept that God has made you as you are, with your personality, gifting, strengths and even weaknesses is a powerful self-awareness and catalyst that will serve you well. Don’t hide behind a facade…be who you are and embrace it. To say I look like Brad Pitt is a wild stretch of the imagination and won’t make it so! To say I want to reflect the image of Christ by being authentic and humble is a powerful weapon in your tool belt. Be you…be authentic.
"To acknowledge and accept that God has made you as you are, with your personality, gifting, strengths and even weaknesses is a powerful self-awareness and catalyst that will serve you well."
2. Embrace Integrity
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines integrity as "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, an unimpaired condition, the quality or state of being complete or undivided."
I like the idea of being complete and undivided. You see, leadership rises and falls on integrity. We see and hear daily examples of leaders who are in positions of power and influence who give in to the temptation to twist truth, open the door to moral gray zones, and side step practical concerns to overrule ethical standards. When that happens, effective leadership is compromised and there will be a trail of devastation and remorse to follow.
Proverbs 10:9 (NIV) says, "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out."
We must realize that integrity speaks volumes about our character and when we don’t protect our hearts, our integrity is eroded, character is tarnished, and we sacrifice moral high ground. Embrace integrity and guard your heart with all diligence.
3. Live Your Mission
Nothing is more exhilarating (and at times, exhausting) than to live on point with the mission that you have been given. Nothing is more rewarding.
The Apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15:58, "So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."
Rabbi Howard Kushner, a prominent American rabbi and author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, writes these words: "The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people's lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them."
Living your mission boils down to knowing how God has intrinsically wired you on the inside – to love God and serve others. At the end of the day, your leadership and ministry will not be about your calendar, daily activities, your achievements, or the accolades you receive. It’s about leading, loving, and serving from the inside out. It’s about allowing God to continue His work in you, in any way He chooses, in all kinds of ways, and in His time. It’s about you leading and living from authenticity, integrity, and staying on point and living the mission.
"When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people's lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them."
What is spiritually-charged leadership to you? What qualities do you value in an effective leader?
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