I’ve never met a group of people more in love with the idea of leadership than church staff. We devour leadership books, flock to leadership conferences and talk about leadership all day long, but, ironically, we sometimes end up settling for something other than leadership.
Some of us excel at bossing people around, but that’s not leadership. That’s bullying. Others of us are champions at persuasion, but again, that’s not leadership. That’s manipulation. Still others of us are great at talking vision and get people really excited. But ultimately, that’s not leadership. That’s hype.
So what is leadership? In his book called Spiritual Leadership, Henry Blackaby says true spiritual leadership is “moving people on to God’s agenda.” Ultimately it comes down to two things:
- Listening to God.
- Helping other people to listen to God.
In John 5:19, Jesus says, “I tell you truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
Simple leadership isn’t about position on an org chart. It’s not about bullying. It’s not about manipulation. It’s not about hype. It’s about listening to God and helping others to hear.
If we’re all listening to the Father, we don’t have to convince anyone to follow our brilliant vision because it’s not our vision in the first place. It’s God’s. Let Him do the convincing.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is what I believe God wants to us to do. We’re going in this direction.” Ultimately we do. Like Blackaby says, we have to help move people on to God’s agenda. But if we’re really listening to our Dad and we can help others do the same, we’ll have the wind of the Holy Spirit at our back to move all of us along in the same direction.
This style of spiritual leadership is really simple. The hard thing is that we can’t fake it. We have to be walking closely with God and ministering out of overflow. If we’re not tending to our relationship with God, we cut ourselves off at the knees as leaders. When we are keeping in step with the Spirit, though, leadership becomes more of an invitation than a chore. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
That kind of leadership is authentic, sustainable and changes lives. Let’s not make it more complicated or settle for anything less.
How much are you listening to God these days? Are you helping those you lead do the same?