Becoming an Unhurried Spiritual Leader

Excerpted from
An Unhurried Leader
By Alan Fadling

One of the ways inner hurry has hampered my leadership is when I’ve rushed to the conclusion that I am not a leader because I am not like a leader I admire. That person seems more like the ideal leader I imagine I’m not. But many leaders like me are more like Timothy than Peter: more tempted by fear than by pride, more likely to be self-deprecating than self-promoting. Unhurried leadership operates from a peaceful confidence that God has made me, that God is remaking me, and that God has invited me to live a life of influence from that very place and as that very person. God is making me to be the person of influence I was meant to be.

Some people might want to call being an unhurried leader “spiritual leadership.” There’s truth there, but I would use that phrase with a bit of caution. Some will hear spiritual as meaning somehow detached from a real life of parenting, earning a living, paying our bills, mowing the lawn and such. I use spiritual, however, to describe the most essential inner reality of who we are. Therefore, I don’t limit spiritual leadership to a leader’s prayer life, moral character or religious observances. Spiritual leadership is leadership rooted in the deepest reality there is: living in vital relationship with God through Jesus, and then bearing the good fruit of that communion.

Furthermore, the term spiritual leadership can help us remember that while what leaders do matters immensely, who leaders are matters even more. Of course what leaders do matters, but we sometimes overestimate the impact of things we leaders do and pay insufficient attention to the impact of who we are becoming. And who we are is the substance that fuels our actions. What kind of person is doing the things we are doing? Are we becoming more generous, more others concerned, or more patient? How might such a person do the same work differently than a person who is fine with remaining self-seeking, self-promoting, or impatient? Two people can do the very same thing with very different outcomes. The same task gets done, but the resulting fruit can be radically different.

I recently had lunch with a pastor of a church located in downtown Los Angeles. We talked about how too many people with a leadership title see their roles as something they must manage on their own for God, rather than being a means by which, with God, they might be a blessing to the people around them. The result is often anxiety, self-importance, fear or self-promotion, the kind of fruit that bears no aroma of God’s glorious and inviting presence. Spiritual leadership is not so much about managing something for God as much as it is expressing the life of God in the unique situation we find ourselves in. What if our leadership influence were more about overflow than about managing what we perceive to be the limited, if not meager, resources at our disposal? What if God’s kingdom really has come and I’m actually invited to be a key player in people’s vision and knowledge of their Creator?

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Taken from An Unhurried Leader by Alan Fadling. ©2017 by Alan Fadling. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove IL 60515-1426.