As with most any abstract concept, different people will have different definitions for “spiritual leadership.” What is Christian leadership? What makes a Christian leader? Pondering the idea of “Christian leaders” may be something you have spent some time on as you plan or complete a degree from Colorado Christian University. Regardless of your degree program, as a college graduate, you will eventually be called upon to be a leader in some fashion in the workplace. If you’re already an active member of the workforce, you may be very familiar with all that comes with spiritual/Christian leadership. However, if you’re new to your career or have just begun your coursework, you may not have given much thought to the concept of what being a Christian leader means to you.
Christian Leaders in the Workplace
Let’s take a look at the marks of a spiritual leader and explore what characteristics and/or traits are common to inspirational Christian leaders.
The International Institute for Spiritual Leadership, an organization that studies workplace spirituality and spiritual leadership, has developed a “Spiritual Leadership Theory” to outline current leadership theories and to investigate the various aspects of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements of human interaction in organizations and the workplace. Simply put, the Institute claims, “Spiritual leadership generates hope/faith in the organization’s vision that keeps followers looking forward to the future. Spiritual leadership requires that an organization’s culture be based on values of altruistic love.”
Spiritual leadership, simply put, is demonstrated through a leader’s attitude and behavior. Spiritual leadership produces a “sense of membership” and a sense of being understood and appreciated. Could you imagine if all leaders in the workplace followed a theory such as this? Everyone would go to work each day feeling valued and important. People would be more joyful about their work, more enthusiastic and more motivated to go above and beyond the call of duty.
The Institute’s spiritual leadership theory asserts that spiritual leadership leads others toward spiritual well-being, psychological well-being, satisfaction with life, commitment to the organization (job), productivity, sustainability and overall good general health and well-being. Spiritual leaders (i.e. Christian leaders) must experience a sense of being “called” to their work–that their life and work have meaning and purpose. Christian leaders show genuine care and concern to others and have an appreciation for themselves and others in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at some qualities that you would find in a spiritual leader: Vision, Altruistic Love, and Hope/Faith.
- “Vision” is a word you will often hear in discussions about leadership in the workplace. What is your company’s vision? What is the vision your boss has for your future? How do you envision your role evolving in this company? Your company’s vision is a picture of the future direction your company hopes to take. A clear and compelling vision will help to motivate and inspire employees, contribute to a feeling of commitment from employees, and set a standard of excellence for all to partake in and follow. Christian leaders will create a vision that defines the company’s destination and encourages faith in employees.
- Altruistic love is described by the Institute as “a sense of wholeness, harmony, and well-being produced through care, concern and appreciation for both self and others.” According to the Institute’s spiritual leadership theory, the fields of medicine and psychology have both begun to study (and confirm) that the power of love is able to overcome destructive emotions such as anger and fear. Christian leaders exhibit traits such as integrity, patience, forgiveness, loyalty, truthfulness, and selflessness in the workplace (and their personal lives).
- Let’s take a look at the Spiritual Leadership Theory’s definitions of faith and hope. Faith is a belief in something for which there is no firm evidence. Hope is desire with the expectation of fulfillment. When employees have faith in the company for which they work and have hope for their future in that company, there exists an incentive to do well–to strive to be the very best one can be. Hope and faith are what leads to achieving the vision created by the Christian leader.
CCU prides itself on creating an educational/spiritual environment with a clear vision for its students. As you can see on our Vision and Mission page, “We envision graduates who think critically and creatively, lead with high ethical and professional standards, embody the character and compassion of Jesus Christ, and who thereby are prepared to impact the world.”