Leadership is about people. While some may emphasize vision or destination as the bottom-line of leadership, leaders are ultimately responsible for people. If you attain a vision or arrive at a destination all alone then you have not led, you have simply taken a trip by yourself.
Spiritual leadership is about moving people to where God wants them to be; caring for them along the way and ensuring that they look more like Him after they have been with you. The entirety of leadership, then, is measured in the lives of those who have been entrusted to us.
Three Things to Keep in Focus
So how do you balance the challenge of spiritual leadership (care & concern) with the necessary reality of practical leadership (meetings & metrics)? What does this kind of leadership look like and where do we begin? I’ve found that keeping three things in focus is critical to spiritual leadership:
1. You Cannot Lead Where You Have Not Been.
It is impossible to model for others what you do not personally practice or believe. If we ever hope to lead people to where God wants them to be, we must be where God wants us to be and we must be who God wants us to be. Spiritual leadership begins with our own spiritual health and obedience; this is why when it comes to spiritual leadership you cannot lead where you have not been.
2. Lead With Your Back to the Crowd.
Great conductors lead with their backs to the crowd. Their job is not to pine for the applause of the audience but rather to work to draw the music out of the orchestra. In much the same way, our responsibility as leaders is to work to draw the best out of our people. Leaders are developers; our job is not to make the music but to develop the people who do. The moment we begin to take credit for the music and turn towards the applause of the crowd we cease to lead like Jesus.
3. Know the Condition of Your Flock.*
A good shepherd takes the time to check the condition of his or her sheep. Running your hand over the back of a sheep helps a shepherd see any unseen wounds, bites or infection hiding beneath the wool. Left unchecked these hidden issues can kill an animal or spread to an entire herd. In the same way we must check the condition of those we lead; walking the halls and giving each a touch to see if any injury lurks beneath. If our responsibility before God is the condition of our flock, we must get into the pen and be near to our sheep. [*from “The Way of the Shepherd” by Leman/Pentak.]
Hebrews 13:17 reminds us that those leading the church will one day have to give an account not for the ministries they build or the budgets they manage but rather for the people God has called us to shepherd.
When it comes to leadership, people are the point.