Archive for Saturday, April 30, 2005

Faith forum

April 30, 2005


What qualities make someone a good spiritual leader?

Characteristics should include purpose, vision

The Rev. Darlene Strickland, pastor, Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane:

The philosopher Hugo Grotius once said, "A man cannot govern (lead) a nation if he cannot govern a city; he cannot govern a city if he cannot govern a family; he cannot govern a family if he cannot govern himself ... "

A leader leads by example, whether they intend to or not. Therefore, the success of a leader is reflected by the quality of their life and their faith. A "good" leader is first and foremost a good individual, a good student and steward. A good spiritual leader is a passionate and unpretentious spiritual seeker and finder. To be an effective soul nurturer, one must continue to grow.

A good spiritual leader understands that ALL are children of the one Creator and all have equal access to their Creator. A spiritual leader supports others as they discover and cultivate their own inner resources so they may live meaningful lives with enriching relationships with God, self and others.

A good spiritual leader is an authentic and thought-provoking communicator; speaking from her own challenges and experiences, rather than merely talking "about" life's challenges.

A good spiritual leader has clear purpose and vision, is very self-aware and in touch with the interests and concerns of others.

Good spiritual leaders inspire confidence and harmony, demonstrate humility and integrity, listen and respond appropriately, liberally give credit, accept responsibility, think creatively, demonstrate high values and ethics, embrace change, are open and flexible, know they don't know everything, are passionate, use authority wisely, can laugh at themselves and understand that people are the most precious resource we have.

We are all wired to become what we're created to be. We are all leaders of our own destiny, our own soul. Together, may we hold the vision of unity and seek and find a life of compassion and wholeness.

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Leaders enthusiastic about life, respect others

The Rev. James Taylor, senior pastor, Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:

In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-8, the qualities for biblical spiritual leadership are listed. That list includes "being above reproach, faithful to your spouse, exercising self-control, living wisely, having a good reputation, enjoying guests in one's home, able to teach, not a heavy drinker or violent, a gentle person free from the love of money and one who manages his own household well." (New Living Translation)

I would add that strong spiritual leaders have a standard that they follow and will not compromise for anything. They are willing to stand alone, even if that means losing their jobs. They know they cannot do it all. Therefore, they surround themselves with others who are more gifted in the areas that they are weak. They encourage others for the gifts and talents they bring to an organization.

Strong spiritual leaders have learned to laugh at themselves and not take life so seriously. They are enthusiastic about life and live it to the fullest. They are authentic, transparent and real. They have respect for others enough to say, "Thank you." They are servant leaders -- they would never ask others to do what they are not willing to do. When the song "We Are the World" came out, all the recording artists involved entered the studio door with a sign that read, "Please, as you enter, check your ego at the door."

Strong spiritual leaders are known for their humility. When Mother Teresa, the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was asked about leadership, she said, "Leadership, well, leaders should have nothing to prove. For if you have nothing to prove, you have nothing to lose."

And strong spiritual leaders walk in integrity. They have direction, and they know how to give that direction to others. Spiritual leadership is a lot like beauty: It's hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

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