Here’s what I think spiritual leadership is:
Spiritual Leadership is assuming the primary responsibility for knowing what a person’s next spiritual step is and encouraging them to take it.
The Apostle Paul’s relationship with Timothy is often the place people go to define the relationship between a leader and a follower. The Apostle Paul, an older more mature spiritual veteran, church planter, preacher, Apostle and Timothy, the young gifted, green pastor of a new church. I love the beginning of Paul’s second letter to Timothy,
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. II Timothy 1:3-12
The reason why I love this letter is because I believe it communicates exactly what I think spiritual leadership is. Here’s a few observations:
- Paul knows Timothy’s family. He knew his mother Eunice, his grandmother Lois. He obviously knew them well enough to know their sincerity of faith. Paul sees this same sincerity of faith in Timothy’s life.
- Paul has an emotional burden for Timothy: “As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy”
- Paul not only knows the legacy of faith in Timothy’s family but he recognized Timothy’s own faith and commissions him for ministry: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”
- Paul knows Timothy struggles with fear and he encourages him not be afraid, but to trust the Spirit.
Everyone needs someone in their life like Paul. Someone who knows them, knows their family context, knows where they are at in their faith journey, has an emotional burden for them and encourages them to take the next step spiritually. That’s spiritual leadership.