Leaders lead more from who they are than any other leadership qualities or skills they may possess. Who leaders truly are influences others and, if leadership is to be authentic, all leaders who function in the Christian context need to lead spiritually. Spirituality is not measured in number of hours spent in meditation or meetings attended. Spirituality is much more complex than just activities—it is indeed a pilgrimage; a walk with God who forms us and gradually transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). Spirituality is dynamic, relationship-based, experiential, and unique to each individual. The process of becoming is the heart of the leader’s spirituality. Given the importance of this aspect of leadership, it is vital to understand that spirituality interacts with a number of aspects of our growth into what God has in mind for us as His leaders.

Spirituality and Identity

Our identity is in Jesus Christ and out of that secure identity can flow humble yet powerful leadership that makes a difference. We are created into God’s image, we are in Christ— saved, redeemed, destined for greatness and assured of eternal life. Only leaders who are secure in Christ can lead others in a way that is God-honouring. Our treatment, our strengths and weaknesses, our gifts, all determine our unique identity which can only be appreciated in a close relationship with the One who made us.

When we have this sense of security in Jesus Christ our Creator and are in the constant process of discovering who He created us to be, we can lead with freedom and assurance; no need for pretending, impressing or hiding. We lead as an expression of our identity in Jesus.

Spirituality and Integrity

The second aspect of our journey as leaders has to do with integrity. We live on a planet infected by sin—and sin is impacting and challenging our sense of identity. The enemy is actively pursuing people to destroy God’s image in them. Everyone has inconsistencies between who God wants them to be and who they actually are—thus our integrity is challenged. The moment we start covering up the gap we become less than transparent and our influence becomes tainted with dishonesty. Who we are inside is not what people see on the outside, and the greater the gap the more destructive our influence. Spirituality is therefore an awareness of that gap and an openness to God and others to correct us, encourage us, and help us grow to become spiritually whole.

Spirituality and Intimacy

Leadership is inevitably expressed in relationships— and relationships require appropriate levels of intimacy with those we lead. The degree to which we allow people to come close to us is determined by how secure we feel in Jesus Christ. If our identity is strong and our integrity is transparent and authentic, people will feel invited—and when they engage with us they will not feel betrayed or disillusioned. Thus our spirituality affects the degree of authentic closeness and ultimately this will determine our ability to influence others positively

Spirituality and Intensity (Passion)

Leaders who are deeply aware of who they are and who extend that awareness to those whom they have been given the privilege of leading will develop an intensity—a passion—to be instrumental in assisting others to be spiritually mature and to increase their own awareness of God’s plan for them. More than that, they will also passionately pursue the bigger picture, the vision of what God has in mind not just for individuals, but for entire groups, congregations, and communities. This is the beginning of a vision for the preferred future God is preparing for those who are in close relationship with Him. A leader can sense that future, can articulate it with passion and can invite others to engage in that journey towards the future.

Leading Well

The core of leadership is spiritual. Only leaders with a spiritual heart are qualified to lead God’s church. It is the quality of the leader’s on-going relationship with God which gives life and direction to all the elements of his/her leadership.

Branimir Schubert, DMin - Manager, Leadership and Professional Development People Services, South-Pacific Division.

Used with permission by the Leadership Development Journal, Trans-European Division. http://www.ted-adventist.org/resources/departments/leadership