Qualities of a Spiritual Leader: COURAGE

This is a fifth post from a series I started that summarizes J. Oswald Sanders’ highly-regarded book on Spiritual Leadership[Post 1 here, and post 2 here, post 3 here, & post 4 here]

Sanders says that courage is “that quality of mind that enables people to encounter danger or difficulty firmly, without fear or discouragement” (60). He rightly grounds courage in the fact that Christian leaders are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (2Tim 1.7). What is more, and this is what is lacking in Sanders’ assessment, is that what makes a leader courageous is not merely a disposition but a different focus.

Ed Welch in his book, Running Scared, argues persuasively that in order to overcome fear of man (or anything), there has to be a fear of something greater–namely, God. Therefore, courage, I would argue, is indispensable for a leader because he must model and show those who follow him that there is a healthy fear of God that does not stifle or paralyze, but a fear that frees us from fearing what others might think or do if we follow a certain course of action.

Leader, do you lack courage because you fear losing a following if you take a stand on a certain issue? Are you afraid of offending some by a certain position? Surely, we must be careful that people understand a controversial position in the most gracious light possible, and not due to our lack of sensitivity on any given issue. But, at the end of the day, with grace in your voice and love in your eye, you must step forward even though everyone else steps back.

The same Spirit who did not give us a Spirit of fear beckons us to look up to the mountains and know that help in leadership comes from the One who made heaven and earth. Whose right hand moves kings’ hearts. Whose very breath can strip the bark off cedars. Whose word holds us, and everyone we will ever talk to and lead, together.

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