In my years of ministry to women leaders, one question arises above all others.
“What kind of goals should I set for myself as a leader?”
Leaders are often surprised by my answer. Although there are many worthy goals, there is one that is often overlooked, and that is spiritual leadership; leading women into a deeper relationship with Christ. Henry and Richard Blackaby, authors of Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda, write:
One of the issues regarding spiritual leadership is whether spiritual leaders can take people where they themselves have not been. That depends on one’s definition of spiritual leadership. If spiritual leadership involves taking people to a location or completing a task, then leaders can lead people to places they have not been.
But if the goal of spiritual leadership is a deeper relationship with God, then leaders will never move their people beyond where they have gone themselves.
Leaders can lead people to relocate their organization, or build a building, or grow in size without prior experience in these areas.
But leaders cannot take their people into a relationship with Christ that goes any deeper than where they have gone themselves.
Followers may grow spiritually despite spiritually immature leaders, but they will not grow because of them. Thus, spiritual leaders must be continually growing themselves if they are to take their people into a more mature relationship with Christ. Leaders will not lead their people to higher levels of prayer unless they have ascended those heights themselves. Leaders will not guide others to greater levels of faith unless they have traveled the road to robust faith themselves.
It is vitally important that leaders avoid the trap of somehow thinking they have arrived spiritually. A thriving relationship with God cannot be faked. Consider Peter and John in Acts 4:13:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
Leaders must be actively and continually growing in their own relationship with Christ in order to lead others to spiritual maturity. Here are some suggestions to help you grow spiritually.
1. Commit to growing spiritually.
2. Take a spiritual inventory. Query leaders who know you best and will give you an honest assessment.
3. Find a Mentor or Coach. Someone who will help you stay on track with your goals.
4. Be a Reader. Read and study God's word consistently. Also, this can't be overstated, familiarize yourself with someone from the past and become a student of their writings. One of my personal favorites is J. Oswald Sanders. To start my New Year out right, every January I read through J. Oswald Sander’s, “Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer.” The book is filled with rich insights and studies the leadership of Paul and Peter. It also includes a helpful study guide that includes ideas and ways to grow in your spiritual leadership.
5. Be Around People. Don't separate yourself from the people you lead. Being around people keeps you accountable and on your knees.
6. A vibrant prayer and devotional life. Presenting your heart to the Lord every day for His inspection is key for His servants who desire to make an impact.
Finally, have fun! Leadership is not a chore. Joy is a fruit of the spirit we enjoy when we are abiding deeply in Christ. When you are filled with joy, it can’t help but bubble over to the women you serve.