Spiritual leadership! This is a different kind of leadership, and it includes YOU. We have leaders in all segments of our world: politics, the military, education, business, business, social services, the church, etc. Now, all this “leadership” is good and I have consulted and taught leaders in all these areas. But, this is not the kind of leadership I am speaking of in this blog.
I’m talking about a spiritual leader, the person whose life in God provides guidance, encouragement, and empowerment for someone else who is on the spiritual journey with God. I am writing about the kind of person who gives us hope, but we are running low on hope. This person bolsters our faith when are faith is feeble. Now, I am not talking about how many people this person lifts up. I am talking about a person who desires to help another in their mutual life in God. I am talking about you.
Let me give you a Scripture picture of a Spiritual Leader (Matthew 5:14-16, the Voice)
And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.
In my work with students, I have made a discovery. They WANT to know about my life in God. When I share devotions at the opening of a class (or sometimes at the end, depending on the best time), they are interested if it is real, authentic, and up-to-date. They are not impressed with the “solutions” as much as how I struggle with the questions. They are not captivated by the “expected responses” as much as how I face the unexpected.
Years ago when I was pastoring a large church on the west coast, I enjoyed investing time with the teens. One Wednesday evening, I happened into the meeting. The discussion was on hell, a “sure fire” way to grab the attention of young people. One young girl, about 15, asked, “Pastor, what do you believe about hell?”
I started in with “what the Bible teachers… what the church believes…” and she stopped me. “That’s not what I asked, pastor,” and she repeated herself, “I want to know what YOU believe about hell.” Now, that is a different question, and that is a moment of Spiritual Leadership.
To lead others in the journey with God, be who you are in Christ. Show people how you work, pray, and struggle to live true to your best in Christ each day. It is not about proving you measure up to expectations. It is not about wearing a façade of faith. Share your own struggle, your faith adventure, and your confidence in God “despite it all.” God will use the authentic revelation of your heart and soul to guide others.
Here’s an old sugar stick of a story. You may have read it before. It is good to read again.
A little boy visited his grandmother in the big city. She took him to the great cathedral. The boy was in awe.
Hand in hand, they walked by a beautiful stained glass portrait. The lad asked, “Who’s that, Grandma?”
“Oh, that’s Saint Peter,” grandmother replied, “He was a great preacher.”
Seeing another stained glass portrait, he asked, “And, who’s that, Grandma?”
“Now, that’s Saint Paul,” the older woman explained, “He taught us to think about God.”
“Who’s that one, Grandma?” the little one continued.
“My, my. That’s Saint John,” she whispered, “He taught us of the mystery of God.”
The young boy pondered what he had seen and learned. “Grandma, now I know what a saint is. A saint is someone the sun shines through.”
Let your light shine; that’s spiritual leadership.
Copyright © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.