March 28, 2006

The Spirituality of Leadership

After reading this article: LeadershipJournal.net - Leader's Insight: Is Ministry Leadership Different? I can see the harsh words and criticism coming. Can you?

Andy Stanley says there is nothing inherently spiritual about leadership in the church. Jim Collins says that leadership within the church is fundamentally different than leadership in a business context. The writer of the article seems suprised and sets them up as being in contention with each other.

What we are lacking in the article is context of the remarks and the fuller explanation. Why can't they both be right? Why do we always want something to be black-and-white and contain no tension?

Yes, leadership is leadership. The same skills that make a person a leader outside the church can be used inside the church. Good leadership practices outside the church are most often good leadership practices inside the church. There are some that are not, and yes, the church is different organizationally; which requires a difference in leadership.

Leadership in the church is also spiritual. While Eric Reed, the writer, says that he heard an "opposite view from an unexpected quarter," he does not quote Jim Collins as saying anything opposite. All Jim Collins notes is that the context of leadership is different. While a business leader can act like a dictator, the church leader should not. But we all know of some who do.

I think Andy Stanley would readily agree that the leadership context is very different. But leadership skills are still very similar.

Another issue, brought up in a comments section concerning this article, is the fact of spiritual gifts. As I have seen them, spiritual gifts are often abilities empowered by the Holy Spirit. I do believe there to be a long list of spiritual gifts that are outside the realm of natural ability.

But there are many outside the church who's leadership level and ability far surpasses most leaders in the church. So I do agree that the task is more than just about skill, but skill is also required.

Galileo said that he could not imagine that a God who gave his creation intelligence, reason, and insight would expect them not to use it. The Bible is a book about God's interaction with His creation. It is not, however, and instruction manual for leadership. It has leadership principles and our leadership styles and principles must be subject to the truths we receive from the Bible. But it does not contain all we need to know about leadership.

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