Monday, April 14, 2008

Pastoral Leadership – Part 1 of 7

Spirituality, a long-neglected dimension of leadership in the corporate setting, has been experiencing a renaissance over the last ten years. Meanwhile leadership practice in the Christian Church has been moving away from its biblical foundation of spirituality. Christian leaders are embracing secular practice with open arms, and seemingly little thought to the spiritual side of their work; yet as a 21st century Christian minister neither personal spirituality nor professional management technique can be neglected. It is critical that one successfully integrates these two skills into effective pastoral leadership. Pastoral leaders must seek a continued development of their management technique and praxis without laying aside traditional spiritual values of intimacy with God through spiritual discipline.

Pastor and author Eugene Peterson, offers many valuable insights into the need for ministers to hold firmly to the biblical foundation stones of pastoral leadership through a commitment to personal spirituality, (defining personal spirituality as a leader’s prayer life, their study of scripture and the process of spiritual directing). Christian leaders must understand that there is no need for there to be a schism between these traditional ministerial values and modern management techniques. Skills such as corporate vision casting, team building, branding, marketing, accounting and forecast projection, must be worked and applied to Christian leadership. Understanding that ‘leadership involves inspiration, passion and higher moral purposes,’ pastors must develop a deep commitment to Christian spirituality. Spirituality must be integrated into everyday life as a ‘lived experience’ rather than simply theology.

Successful Christian leadership requires a pastor to integrate personal spirituality into all areas of church management. Though a seemingly daunting task at times, with a commitment to spirituality as a core ministry and life value, any Christian minister can move from what seems to be a juggling act of differing priorities, to a seamless parity of melded tasks. This integration of management technique and personal spirituality will require a pastor to make priority adjustments in ministry and paradigm shifts in thinking, while monitoring pace-setting in scheduling and personal discipline in devotions. There are four distinct responses to an understanding of the need to bring biblical shape and pattern into their role as a leader. The apostle Paul instructs Christian leaders to lead with Godly edification, from a pure heart, with good conscience and sincere faith. These are qualities found in a leader committed to deep spirituality and an alert awareness of God’s initiating action at work in our lives, churches and communities.

To be continued…

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