No, I’m not going to list them all.

But apparently, that’s how many definitions of leadership Warren Benson and Burt Nannis discovered when researching The Leader’s Strategies for Taking Charge.

Although we won’t find quite as many definitions of Christian leadership, they probably still run into the hundreds.

I like Joel Beeke’s definition: “Spiritual leadership is moving people by biblical means, in dependency upon the Holy Spirit, to do God’s will.”

Here’s my own: “A Christian leader serves God and His people by exemplifying godly character and conduct; by communicating God’s Word to everyone with wisdom and love; by excelling in vocational responsibilities; by uniting, equipping and inspiring God’s people for worship and works of service; and by preparing them for eternal life.”

It’s a bit of a mouthful and probably still doesn’t cover all the bases. Let me expound it a little.

1. He serves God and His people
The Christian leader sees himself primarily as a servant not a ruler. And he is a servant of God first, then of His people.

2. He exemplifies godly character and conduct
The internal life comes first. Without a Christ-like core, everything else will eventually decay and rot. But character does issue in external conduct. Modeling holiness of life is perhaps the most powerful and yet most neglected element of spiritual leadership.

3. He communicates God’s Word

Christian leaders read and study God’s Word in order to communicate it wisely and lovingly to Christian and non-Christian alike, as opportunity arises. He is concerned to speak God’s Word more than his own and to make sure all his own are consistent with God’s.

4. He excels in vocational responsibilities
He does not over-spiritualize leadership by thinking that prayer and Bible study will cover a multitude of incompetencies and inefficiencies in everyday life. He recognizes his duty to be organized, to be efficient, to keep appointments, to prepare for meetings, to inspire trust and respect by wise financial stewardship, etc.

5. He unites, equips, and inspires God’s people for worship

He unites God’s people in thoughtful, orderly, reverent and Word-centered worship. But He also leads and directs worship so that it reaches and inspires the heart and the emotions. Like the Father, he wants worship to be full of Truth and Spirit.

6. He equips and inspires God’s people for works of service
While prioritizing worship, he also teaches, trains, organizes, and enables God’s people to serve Him, His Church, and His World as their talents and opportunities permit.

7. He prepares God’s people for eternal life

Eternity is ever before him. However busy his life or his church’s life, however much he and God’s people serve here below, the spiritual leader is ever mindful that all this is all-too short preparation for the long world to come.

I’d like to hear your own additions, subtractions, or re-writes of my definition. But whatever definition we come up with, surely the more we learn what’s involved in spiritual leadership, the more we cry with the Apostle Paul, “Who is sufficient for these things?” And thankfully we hear the welcome echo, “But my sufficiency is of God.”

  • Jerry Linnins

    SHE could also be a leader! Let’s not forget that there are just as many types of “leaders” as there are definitions of leadership. There are formal and informal leaders. There are leaders at the top, middle, and bottom of organizations, churches, small groups, etc. After 25 yrs in the military and 12 years in the civilian workforce as an organizational consultant, I am really tired of the “great man” theory, that myth that leaders are born, and that women can not leaders. Just me.

  • David Murray

    Hi Jenny. Agreed with you on the myths. My context is primarily pastoral leadership – hence the male pronouns. But I also find it tiresome to engage in he/she verbal gymnastics. I think most people can do the gender substituting without it having to be spelled out.