Spiritual Gift of Leadership
Leadership: A Spiritual Gift Definition
The Leadership spiritual gift is a God-given ability to lead people to accomplish a noble vision or mission. The Bible elevates the nature of a “Shepherd” as its model for healthy leadership. And so, a Shepherd does not force his will upon the sheep, rather he tends and cares for them. As a result, the sheep instinctively follow a good shepherd. Accordingly, Jesus says he is the “Good Shepherd”, and identifies his Church leaders as his “Under-Shepherds”. He then calls his “Under-Shepherds” to faithfully follow his example and lay down their lives for the welfare of the sheep (John 10:14-18). People who possess the Leadership spiritual gift ought to display the same servant heart as exemplified by Jesus and his Apostles.
God holds church leaders to a higher standard. In Hebrews 13:7-17 it states… “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith….Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account….” In 1 Timothy 5:20, the Apostle Paul stresses that “(Leaders) who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning”.
The Apostle Paul was an Encouraging Leader. To this end, his letters to the early Church contained exhortation, encouragement, and instruction. So, Encouraging Leaders motivate churches, teams, and individuals. Additionally, they often display discernment regarding people’s gifts, feelings, and motivations. This, then, enables Encouraging Leaders to help people fulfill their ministry calling. Why, who doesn’t need encouragement? Finally, Encouraging Leaders know when a quiet word can spur people on. Or, they likewise know when to challenge, when to support, when to coach and when to give space.
Every church requires good stewards and managers, people with the spiritual gifts of Administration (Acts 6). Likewise, every ministry benefits from people who can plan, problem solve, delegate, and organize. Without Administrators, most ministries would fail! To this end, the apostles delegated the practical tasks of sharing food and taking care of the widows to those gifted with administrative abilities. These leaders were called Deacons, which in the Greek means, “Servant“. Unfortunately, Administrators are often under appreciated. This is because they possess a supportive leadership style which is rarely in the spotlight. However, without these unseen heros, most Kingdom ministry simply would not get done. In conclusion, only Administrative Leaders are able to organize and follow-through on every essential task to ensure that they are completed well, and on time.
Many church leaders wear the title of Pastoral Leader. However, most church leaders actually lack this leadership style. Pastoral Leaders are “people-people”, who serve to support and care for the many people within a congregation. In contrast to other leadership types, vision casting, and ministry’s mission plans, are not important to Pastoral Leaders. Why? Because “People” are their mission. The Apostle John exemplifies a Pastoral Leader. John emphasized one thing above all else, “Love one another”. As such, he contrasts with Paul’s energetic church planting and stern exhortations. Pastoral Leadership is often unseen, and often overlooked. Yet, they serve vitally important functions within Christ’s Church. Pastoral Leaders may at times be threatened by the strong personalities of the pioneers and strategic leaders – and at times also irritated by the attention to tasks shown by administrators. Yet, their contribution to love and care for people is invaluable.
Pioneering Leaders are willing to push themselves and others to take risks, striving to cast a noble vision, and recruit a team to help achieve long-term entrepreneurial goals. Like the Apostle Paul, they share his slogan: “forgetting what is behind, and straining for what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:12). They are passionate and are wholly committed to a noble vision. Paul is a great example of a Pioneering Leader. He was focused on pushing out the boundaries of the church, despite great personal risk. Pioneering Leaders are at their best in the early stages of accomplishing a great vision or mission. However, as time passes, they may lose interest in its implementation, as they eagerly look ahead to the next big challenge.
Strategic Leaders break down visions into manageable tasks and timelines. They have the insight and focus to organize a vision into logical steps. And so, are generally able to persuade the church to accept their plans. When Nehemiah led the Jews in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he demonstrated great strategic leadership in how he implemented and delegated the work. The result was that the walls were rebuilt in 52 days. Strategic Leaders can bring common sense to difficult tasks. They are able to help people see how the seemingly impossible may be achieved. However, they are often less engaged with the actual implementation of the plan, preferring to leave this to administrators and team leaders.
Team Leaders, as the title implies, need to lead groups of people. A Team Leader’s key strengths are his/her ability to work with others, recruit team members, and lead the team to accomplish a noble mission. Healthy Team Leaders will display humility and servanthood. This is because their sole aim is to see that their team succeeds. Personal success is secondary to the that of the team. If the church is truly to function as a body, Team Leaders are needed to ensure harmony and effectiveness through effective teamwork.