Introduction to Spiritual Leadership 1

Written by Marcus Honeysett

You can download the PDF of this resource here.  

Begin this session by considering the following questions

Group Discussion

  • What ideas does the word “leader” contain for you?
  • Where do you get your ideas from?

Biblical, spiritual leadership is different to any other kind of leadership in the world. According to the Bible it is a spiritual gift to be exercised in servant-hearted love for building up the body of Christ. This spiritual gift of leadership is given by God to nurture, disciple, equip and release all the believers – and all of their spiritual gifts – in order that the Church of Jesus Christ fulfils the purpose he has given us: to make disciples of Jesus in every nation, proclaiming repentance and forgiveness for sins in his name, baptising them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded (The Great Commission).

We can summarise the goal of biblical leadership very simply: growing missional disciples. That is, growing disciples who make more disciples, who in turn make more disciples. We see this pattern in 2 Timothy 2:2:

The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others

As leaders grow disciple-making disciples, the result is churches that have disciple-making and witness as their core values and purpose, as they should. If we grow disciples we get biblical churches, whereas if we simply set about building church structures and activities we frequently don’t get biblical disciples, but rather people who enjoy attending activities and meetings.

Leaders serve God and others, in love, so that they will follow Jesus more and more closely and participate in God’s purposes in the world, as described in The Great Commission, in every part of their day to day lives: their family, their work environment, their friendships, their leisure pursuits. Every part of the life of a disciple should be oriented to God being famous and receiving glory. One writer puts it like this: the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory (John Piper).

Group discussion question:

What should someone exercising the gift of spiritual leadership look like?

In the world you would normally begin to answer this question by examining the person’s leadership skills and opportunities. Are they a dynamic leader of people? Do they communicate well? Are they visionary and inspirational? These things aren’t unimportant or unrelated to biblical leadership, but they are not the starting point. They qualify a person to lead in the world, but don’t necessarily qualify them to lead in the body of Christ. The ABC of spiritual leadership looks like this:

A.  They have a deepening relationship with God 

  • They have a heart that is hot for Jesus
  • God and his word are their daily delight and joy
  • They are concerned for God to get glory in their life
  • They have an active prayer and worship life 

B.      They are growing in Christ-like character

  • They have a humble, loving spirit
  • They are full of thanksgiving and adoration
  • They put aside their own interests and desires in order to help others know Jesus and grow as disciples
  • They are keenly aware of God’s grace abounding to them in sin-covering, transforming power

C.      They are (at least potentially) able to develop and implement clear vision

  • They are desperate to grow God-centred, missional churches (ie churches full of disciple-making disciples)
  • Their overriding aim is that God is known all over the world and that the fame of his glory is spread far and wide
  • They want (and are able) to lead activities to this end

Group discussion question:

How are you and your church currently doing in these things?

If well, praise God! If he has used this discussion to highlight possible growth areas, praise him for that too! There are no finished articles, no perfect churches and no leaders who don’t still need to carry on growing.

Pray now that God will equip and use you increasingly to facilitate the growth in discipleship and witness of other people. Thank him for the opportunity of walking with him as a servant leader. Ask for his help in any area of this discussion that has made you feel especially weak, afraid or inadequate.