Articles of Faith: Spiritual Leadership

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.

There was a recent article published in a newspaper whereby the reporter asked the question “who are your heroes?” to a group of high school students.

Their answer: “Lady Gaga, Big Papi, Paul Pierce, Beyonce, Kanye West, Gloria Steinem” among others. While certainly some of these high schoolers got it right with their answers, there is much evidence to suggest a blurred line between celebrity and hero.

This blurred line between celebrity and hero has also impacted people’s view of the essence of true leadership and influence.

John 13

Who are your heroes and why?

A hero is someone we admire for their abilities and quality of character. Too often we get caught up in this idea of celebrity instead of quality of character. When asked in terms of leadership, a hero is often viewed in terms of power, ambition, and assertiveness – those who have fought their way to the top.

Secular Leadership

There are too many leadership books on the market telling us how to become better leaders by developing our worldly skills. In a list compiled by Eric Jacobsen on Linkedin and published here, there are 235 interesting and fascinating books about leadership, many of which I have read in developing my thoughts and ideas, but not one person mentioned the Bible.

Spiritual Leadership

I submit there is a different model of leadership – a spiritual model that is strengthened as we develop our spiritual skills. In the online article What is Spiritual Leadership, the authors suggest that spiritual leaders seek God’s plan instead of their own and marshal others to achieve it.

In his book, Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur suggests six character qualities of a spiritual leader: submission, restraint, humility, love, compassion, and courage. The writer of Hebrews suggests in chapter 5 (verses 1-5) a model for spiritual leadership whereby leaders are:

  1. Focused on people and how they connect with God
  2. Compassionate with those who are weak
  3. Required to face sin head-on
  4. Not self-appointed, but rather called by God into the leadership role

A Real Hero

John MacArthur and the author of Hebrews is writing about a real hero and a true leader: Jesus Christ.

He is the perfect leadership role model for all of us. Jesus’ servant-style of spiritual leadership was unassuming and personal. He was focused on others and their personal relationship with God. He faced sin head-on for our salvation. He served in His divine role by the appointment of God.

He was compassionate with those who were weak.

When Jesus was washing Peter’s feet and explaining to him the essence of servant leadership. he told him this in John 13: 12-17

12-17Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life. (The Message)

As we serve those in our charge, let us remember to always be focused on developing devoted disciples of Christ, to showing compassion to others through our service, to facing the challenges of living in this world but not of this world, and most importantly to remembering that we are here by the grace of God and it is He whom we serve.

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Dr. Hampton Hopkins is President of Hopkins Associates
He consults, writes, and speaks about leadership and organizational development
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web

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3 responses to “Articles of Faith: Spiritual Leadership

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Articles of Faith: Spiritual Leadership « Linked 2 Leadership --·

  2. Thanks for this week’s article. I appreciated your insight “there is much evidence to suggest a blurred line between celebrity and hero.” Being raised and lured by Reality TV, unfortunately this seems to be evolving before our eyes.

    I’ve just completed a presentation on the Servant-Leader that I will present to organizations and teams. While I never mentioned the Bible the principles are certainly biblical and the characteristics reflect those of the ONE who said, “I have come to be served but to serve.”


  3. I am looking for articles that show examples of how the principles spiritual leadership have been implemented into companies and which companies. I am looking for a correlation of this implementation to bottom line net profitability.


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