Part Two: (Pastoral Leadership)
“…the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;” (Gal 5:22). This is the fruit which Paul writes about to the Christians in Galatia. Aubry Malphurs writes, “Spiritual formation is a process through which the Holy Spirit transforms us into Christ’s likeness or image, (Malphurs, 2005). It is this fruit that is the very foundation that personal characteristics are built upon. Malphurs references Galatians 4:19, where he “notes two things: Christ is formed in you, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit.”
The forming of Christ within is the heart of Spiritual formation. This is the key that allows the fruit of the Spirit (Christ) to be seen in a Christian. Therefore, this fruit of the spirit bears the image of Christ within us. It is from this foundation that Christian leaders begin to emerge.
Christian leaders do not just appear out of thin air. Christian leaders are raised up by God in Christ Jesus. In other words, I would say that God initiates the Spiritual formation of Christ in the Christian leader where the seeds of Spirit’s fruit have been planted and grows. The Christian leader is never self-made.
Authors Smith and Wright, in “MBA,” provide a quote from Paul Sorensen, president of Joy Leadership Center in Glendale, AZ, that says, “We minister out of who we are more than what we say,” (MBA, 2011). This statement could not more truly embody the Spiritual formation of the Christian leader.
A major characteristic that will be found in a successful Christian leader is a good prayer life. This is an instruction from Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that
entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men…” (1 Tim 2:1). The Christian leader must make their personal prayer life a priority. They go out of their way to seek God’s advice–to seek His wisdom and direction. Those that follow the Christian leader must know that their leader is following God, in Christ Jesus.
Mark Maddix, in the first chapter of Spiritual Formation, writes, “A definition (Spiritual formation) is, and should be, very simple. Spiritual formation refers to the transformation of people into what C.S. Lewis calls “little Christs,”” (Leclerc, Maddix, (2011).
David Kraft, author of Leaders Who Last, in respect to “the key elements that lead to success,” says, “By far, the most important is character. Having Christlike character as the bedrock of my life is absolutely essential and foundational to everything else,” (Kraft, 2010).
As I wrote previously, Christian leaders do not just appear out of thin air. However, the seed which the Holy Spirit can grow into Christian leaders can be planted and fed. With Christlikeness as the foundation of our spiritual growth, we must engage in Spiritual disciplines of which many are laid out by Adele Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, (Calhoun, 2015).
Calhoun writes, “prayer is the way to both the heart of God and the heart of the world…” (Calhoun, 2015). Prayer will be No. 1 on my list to affect Spiritual growth. More time must be spent in prayer, communing with God. We must strive to more heartily listen through the noise of the world for God’s advice, wisdom, and direction. We must aim to “pray continually,” as Paul admonishes in his letter to the Thessalonian church, (1 Thes 5:16-18).
Spiritual growth just doesn’t happen. It is indeed a process. Spiritual growth occurs only through one’s interactions with God through Christ. Spiritual growth must be intentional. It must consist
of Spiritual disciplines. In order to ensure that we are actively engaging these disciplines we must hold ourselves up to the scrutiny of our fellow Christians. We institute accountability.
Not only must we be able to hold ourselves accountable for engaging these disciplines, whe must allow our Christian community to hold us accountable. In other words accountability must be shared with others. As Calhoun points out, this can work well when engaging in prayer and connecting with a prayer partner, (Calhoun, 2015).
Freelance Christian writer, Crystal McDowell, cites Jeremiah, “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). McDowell writes:
Because of our ability to deceive ourselves into believing lies—we must remain accountable not only to God, but to others in the body of Christ especially those who are wise. Accountability is a gift from God to help us stay on the right path and live spiritually successful lives. (McDowell, 2014. Para. 9)
Bible study must be made a priority. Emergency circumstances notwithstanding, time for Bible reading/study must be scheduled. This is something that should be priority No. 2 after the first–prayer. For a Christian leader, studying the word of God in a personal, spiritual sense is an absolute must. This time should be penned into everyone’s daily calendar.
Ayers, M. (2016) 5 Distinctives of Biblical Leadership. For the Church. Ftc.com
Calhoun, A. (2015) Spiritual Disciplines. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Kraft, D. (2010) Leaders Who Last. Kraft. Wheaton, IL: Crossway
Malphurs, A. (2005) Advanced Strategic Planning. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
No Name (2005) Effective Leadership in the Church. CRNA.org. Grand Rapids, MI: Nelson
Leclerc, D., Maddix, M. (2011) Spiritual Formation. Kansas City, KS: Beacon
McDowell, C. (2014) 6 Good Bible Verses About Accountability. What Christians Want to Know.
Rinehart, B. (2021) 9 Essential Qualities of a Godly Leader. Crosswalk.com https://www.crosswalk.com/family/career/9-essential-qualities-of-a-godly-leader.html
Smith, M., Wright, D., The Church Leader’s MBA. Circleville, OH: OCU
©2022 Clayton Moore for Pastoral Leadership essay.
(As was previously submitted towards requirement for MA. Min.)