Spiritual Leadership, The Process of Building a Successful Local Church

Spiritual Leadership: More Than The Practice of General Leadership Principles

Although spiritual leadership with Christian character may include some of the ideology associated with business management, political propaganda and secular coaching, it must stand on a solid ground that is distinctly different from any of the qualities linked to general leadership. To be successful for Christ, spiritual leaders must embrace certain principles of honor, integrity and love that cannot be swayed by the rules applied to secular leadership.

Business Management In The Spiritual Context

In business management, the end goal always serves the best interest of the business and its shareholders. People, although recognized as individuals with individual needs, are typically most important as a business “asset” or as the business “target” audience. Promotion within the business is based upon perceived skills and how they relate to the further growth and profits of the business. Employee educational programs, although they may promote and increase the employee’s sense of self-worth and personal value, are ultimately designed to further that employee’s worth to the business and its end goals.

When the value of a worker, manager or corporate leader falls beneath an established measurement for Return-On-Investment (ROI), the individual in a company is labeled as a burden and no matter the personal cost to that person the “asset” is terminated. However, in the Christian environment, business management program cannot focus on ROI, profits or even the interest of the local church shareholders. In fact, in matters of spiritual leadership, the term “business management” must take on a whole new concept. Although the leader’s task may involve managing church finances, the focus must be upon the ultimate spiritual welfare of people. The goals involve working with:

  • Existing active members
  • Existing non-active members
  • Those who come through the doors in passing
  • Those who live in the neighborhood but never enter the doors of the local assembly
  • AND those people who may never even know the name of the local assembly.

Although church-focused business management must address the financial issues that enable the upkeep and functional operation of the local assembly, the primary function must always recognize the need to encourage people, help them meet their physical, emotional and mental needs, and move them toward a greater awareness of who God is and what he wants them to be within the unseen body of Christ.

In the secular business world, personal influence is used above all else as a means for promoting the values and interest of the company, corporation or organization. In the Christian business world, personal influence is used to generate an environment that helps people, promotes people, and then propels them toward greater service to Christ. Church-focused business management moves away from personal agendas and rather pursues God’s purposes.

When church leaders seek to build structures rather than people, they are merely secular business leaders working for hire. Through exalted services and powerful music, they offer momentary relief from stress and troubles but no lasting confidence in God as the sole provider and purpose for life. In the end run, their interest is on growing a personal “god-business” branded to their name and skills rather than leading people to an adjusted Christian lifestyle that submits to God’s will.

Rather than leading in matters spiritual, they bully, exhort, plead and demand behavior patterns that exalt the gift rather than the altar that sanctifies the gift.

“Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? (Matthew 23:16-19).

Political Propaganda Versus The Moving of the Holy Spirit

True spiritual leaders rely upon the moving of the Holy Spirit. Fraudulent leaders depend upon spiritual propaganda. In the former, the work is performed within a paradox wherein God calls individuals to a task that only He can accomplish – and when it is completed no one needs to be told that it was God rather than man. In the later type of leadership, spiritual propaganda becomes the rule of the day. Teachers, preachers and leaders begin to live in an emotional world, a place wherein the presence of the Spirit is identified by measures of physical activities and emotional reactions wherein no lasting power shines forth. The leaders proclaim the presence of the Spirit with words that are not supported by any lasting change in the people, the church, or the leader. Such a church eventually implodes upon itself.

Political-styled spiritual leadership produces, at best, a temporary change. Propaganda-styled spiritual guidance is often defined by a consistent lack of discernment Рin the direction of church growth, in the manner of dealing with church problems and in the skills of even-handed dealings with individuals. In defiance of scripture, propaganda leaders are prone to make rapid selection and exaltation of new members. In the end result, the error of the decision results in chaos, inter-church conflicts and a destructive clich̩ mentality.

Godly men and women need not boast of their relationship with the Holy Spirit. It will shine through their lifestyle. Godly leaders understand that God proclaims the anointing via the power of an honest walk, just behavior and a humble heart. The anointing always points to Christ rather than man or even the Spirit Himself. It never comes because of personal merits. It is a gift. It is a call. It is according to the purposes of God.

Spiritually anointed leaders seldom need to boast of that anointing. They know and understand that do not generate nor produce spiritual change in people. They also know that they cannot bring about Holy Spirit power via the whipping up of an emotional frenzy. Although the Spirit often uses people to help people, spiritual growth is always accompanied by the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. It comes in a whisper rather than a shout.

Leaders who function in spiritual propaganda always seek an immediate and outward point of reference – a point in which they can proclaim a personal association with the manifested activity. And although spiritual propaganda cannot prevent the moving of the Spirit, what men most often see is merely a moving of the emotions that results in a brief and temporary value to all involved.

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity,” (Acts 8:18-23).

Differences Between Spiritual Leadership and Secular Coaching

In the world of secular coaching, leaders develop a set of aggressive goals, dreams and purposes designed to help other people meet their specific set of aggressive goals, dreams and purposes. More often than not, the goals of the coach dominate the direction of leadership. Secular coaches limit their involvement only to the people who fit the purpose of the plan, be it a plan that satisfies the demands of corporate shareholders, the sports goals of a local college, or merely the yearns of parents and peers. Although the wants and needs of the individuals can sometimes become very important to a secular leader, the end process seldom reaches outside the primary area of focus.

During the course of Christian headship, some people may believe that the leader’s role demands responsibility for determining what should be accomplished and how it must be accomplished. If the leader follows the pattern of secular coaching, he or she will follow this path by establishing aggressive goals, grandiose dreams and self-ordained visions. Once the plan is stabilized, the secular Christian leader calls upon God to bless his or her agenda and efforts. Then, after promoting the plan before the church as a “Holy Spirit” driven ministry, the leader seeks to marshal the will of the church to meet the perceived God-plan. And in so doing, management soon limits the needs and God-prescribed purposes of the individual church members. Those who do not fall in line with the secular-established goals are rejected and labeled as church troublemakers or irritating outsiders. Though they in actuality may be a prophet bringing words of change and wisdom.

“My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered,” (Jeremiah 10:20-21).

Accountable To God For Keeping His Agenda

Although a saintly leader may stumble, he or she is uniquely accountable to God for every action, every word and every broken word. Holy Spirit guided spiritual guidance necessitates a deeper sense of Christian character and Christian positioning. In the secular world, experienced teachers understand that their work is only successful if the student actually learns the lessons. If a spiritual leader fails to provide sound teachings, he cannot blame the congregation for immature behavior. Furthermore, true Christian leadership demands that the teacher assume personal responsibility for helping each member of the flock come to terms with their specific spiritual gifts, as well as the manner in which God would have them apply those gifts.

Now we know that only the Spirit can produce understanding, and we know that “where there is no vision, the people perish,” (Proverbs 29:18). But we also know that “… faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:14). Without advanced teachings, purposed programs for spiritual education and a commitment to eliminate the internal church clique, the body will indeed perish.

Spiritual leaders, if they present sound truths in word and deed, can influence all people – and the range of influence reaches beyond just God’s people. The agenda is not limited to a local church body or to the emotional excitement of a repetitious Sunday morning “high” wherein the teaching of the Word remains slim and the work of the Spirit is declared but not confirmed by long-lasting growth and change. The message must apply not only to the moment of the meeting, but it must also reach the neighborhood, the marketplace and the world.

Spiritual leadership performs multiple outreach purposes, including:

  • Moving God’s people to achieve God’s purposes
  • Generating an atmosphere of continuous Christian growth
  • Influences unbelievers
  • Illustrates a love that exceeds mere words
  • Presents a sense of honor and integrity that evidences the reality of Salvation
  • Displays strong Christian character in all matters
  • AND promotes the name of Jesus Christ above all others.

“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation,” (James 3:1).

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) NOT A NOVICE, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil,” (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

Obstacles That Hinder Powerful Christian Spiritual Leadership

Although Satan may be permitted to hound you, and the world may seek to crush you, there is only one real obstacle to becoming a powerful and effective spiritual leader: Letting the pursuit of a personal agenda override the purpose in God’s will. This, my friend, will destroy the effectively ministry of the church, the hearts of the people in the church, and in the end the leader himself.

Source by RM Harrington