loveJust like military leaders in combat, spiritual leaders must know and accept their mission. This is difficult because we tend to focus on “secondary missions,” which are usually more tangible. Secondary missions are important things like running a business, serving in church, loving your family, or leading a small group. The danger is that secondary missions can become idolatry when not kept in proper relationship to the primary mission: loving God and loving our neighbor. When the mission is properly understood, spiritual leaders give themselves to God in all things – the business, the church, the family, the small group, or any other noble endeavor.

[Reflect on how Joanna, the wife of Chuza, may have understood the mission. What secondary missions could she have had?]

With SwordReflection #3: Spiritual leaders will face opposition.

Scripture tells us that we are at war against “powers and principalities.” So, not only do we constantly face spiritual situations but we are operating in a spiritual war zone. Moses, Elijah, and King David recognized spiritual reality and exercised leadership in their context. Their leadership was intentional, spectacular, and visible. But they are not the only spiritual leaders in the Scripture. Joanna (the wife of Chuza), Joseph of Aremathea, and the Good Samaritan maneuvered well their physical/spiritual context and exercised spiritual leadership in practical ways.

In a place where having a church building is not allowed by the governing authorities, the church goes “underground.” When this happens, “the church” is associated with a group of believers rather than with a specific place one goes to on the weekend. The Apostles were traveling preachers who started “groups of believers” out of people who were not. Many times they stayed in one place for a long time to make sure the “body of believers” would thrive and multiply (i.e. start more “body of believers” groups).

For more insight see 5 Reasons Established Churches Should Plant Churches.

Reflection #2: Every situation has a spiritual reality.


As Christians, we understand there is a spiritual realm that surrounds us just like the physical environment we observe with our senses. Spiritual moments go beyond the “God moments” that we encounter while reading the Bible, praying, engaging in spiritual conversations, or attending a small group. Spiritual moments happen in business meetings and breakfast meetings, working in the yard, at the movies, family gatherings, while shopping or reading, on the shop floor, hospital, school, or heath club, during vacations, job interviews, or ball games.

[Challenge: As we acknowledge the spiritual reality, we have to be careful and avoid extremes. If we overemphasize the spiritual reality, it can lead to spiritual illusions; if we ignore the spiritual reality, it can lead to spiritual apathy.]


Another Growth-Spurt

Posted: July 5, 2014 in Shepherding
Tags: ,

I carried a large stick and hit every stone in my path, pretending to get water out of the rock like Moses. I stood on tables and shouted, imagining that I was Elijah calling fire from heaven. I made-believe I was fighting Goliath like David, when in reality I was throwing pebbles at pine trees. As a boy I dreamed about being a “spiritual giant of the faith.” To me, that was the pinnacle of spiritual leadership – and I wanted to be a spiritual leader.

I still do.

My understanding of spiritual leadership has grown and changed over the years, and in the last couple of months it went through another growth-spurt.

Reflection #1: Spiritual leadership is the context in which leadership is exercised rather than a particular style of leadership.

I noticed that we talk about leadership differently depending on the context and style. For example, we talk about the context of leadership with terms like business leadership, military leadership, political leadership, community leadership, family leadership, and church leadership; we talk about the styles of leadership with terms like tyrannical leadership, servant leadership, creative leadership, thought leadership, and subversive leadership.

[Questions to wrestle with: how do we recognize spiritual situations that require leadership, and what does a spiritual leader do in those moments?]