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Natural and Spiritual Leadership

Posted: July 13, 2012 by James Harvey

On to Chapter 3 of  Spiritual Leadership, "Natural and Spiritual Leadership." John Maxwell says that he got his start in leadership studies from J. Oswald Sanders.  Maxwell is known for the phrase, "leadership is influence."  He got this from Sanders (maybe Sanders got it from somebody too...I don't know), who begins his third chapter with these two sentences:

Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others. One man can lead others only to the extent that he can influence them.

This whole chapter is required reading for any spiritual leader.  In it, Sanders makes the vital distinction between spiritual and natural leadership.  Most of us live off our natural abilities.  This pattern must change for us to be spiritually effective.

The spiritual leader, however, influences others not by the power of his own personality alone but by that personality irradiated and interpreted and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Because he permits the Holy Spirit undisputed control of His life, the Spirit's power can flow through him to others unhindered.

It is a general principle that we can influence and lead others only so far as we ourselves have gone.  The person most likely to be successful is the one who leaders not by merely pointing the way but by having trodden it himself.

So much can be said about these lines of Sanders.  (Maxwell has made a career out it, though I find that he has taken a different turn.)  My first thought this morning is that I once again find myself at the same place after reading Sanders: spiritual leadership begins with a real prayer life in the leader.  If Jesus had to pray to accomplish his ministry, we will as well.