NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–If you’re a pastor who feels more like a CEO than a church leader, your spiritual leadership skills may need some improving, author and speaker Henry Blackaby suggests.
With state-of-the-art technology and marketing techniques pushing the demand to handle minute-by-minute challenges, many pastors and churches lose sight of what spiritual leadership is truly about, Blackaby writes in a new study guide. And, for many churches, as long as their pastors produce new buildings, big offerings and exciting programs, people are willing to overlook “significant character flaws” in their leaders.
To address such issues, Blackaby, author of “Experiencing God,” has written “Spiritual Leadership: The Interactive Study.” The study guide, released by Broadman & Holman Publishers, the publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, is a follow-up to the book “Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda.” Blackaby’s son, Richard, president the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, assisted with the new release.
“Everyone experiences [leadership], or the lack of it, in daily life,” Blackaby writes.
“If anything can revolutionize today’s Christian leaders,” he notes, “it is when Christians understand God’s design for spiritual leadership.”
The study guide picks up where the last book left off by challenging pastors to use the material in a small-group setting. Through more in-depth group discussion, Blackaby hopes readers will discover how God can use spiritual leaders in today’s fast-paced society. Readers are encouraged to meet with a group once a week to discuss the material.
Some leaders are in their positions for the wrong reasons and take advantage of those positions, Blackaby observes. One of the questions he asks leaders to consider is, “Why do people follow me?”
“Is it because they believe it is their duty?” he asks. “Is it because they are afraid of me? Or do they see God’s activity in my life?”
Leadership “is not something upon which you can insist,” he writes. “[It] is something God must produce in you.”
The book includes other study questions in 11 chapters that cover a variety of aspects of spiritual leadership. Among the keys to spiritual leadership, Blackaby writes, are a strong character, letting go of one’s own agenda and embracing prayer. He describes “prayerless” leaders as “a ship captain without a compass.”
“They can make their best guess at which direction to go, but they have no assurance they are heading the right way,” he writes of prayerless leaders. “Prayer keeps leaders focused on the one absolutely consistent factor in life -– God.”
The book examines a variety of “pitfalls” that many leaders fall into, such as pride, greed, sexual sin and cynicism. Identifying these obstacles in advance, and establishing a plan to resist them, can make the difference in a leader’s success and failure, Blackaby counsels.
“More and more leaders are recognizing that with deliberate effort, good planning and much prayer, they need not succumb to the pitfalls that could paralyze their leadership and jeopardize their personal lives,” he writes.
Blackaby describes technological advances -– faxes, e-mail, cell phones and video conferencing -– as both a blessing and a curse to today’s leaders.
“Technology makes today’s leaders constantly and instantly accessible,” he writes. “The pressure to make rapid decisions and to maintain constant communication can intimidate the most proficient leader.”
Despite the challenges today’s leaders face, being in that position does have its share of rewards, including building relationships and feeling the gratification of making a difference, Blackaby writes.
“Don’t give up,” he exhorts. “Be patient. Allow God to take all the time he wants to build your character.
“If God has called you to lead, he is perfectly capable of equipping you to be the leader he desires.”
Henry Blackaby’s new study, “Spiritual Leadership: The Interactive Study” is available at LifeWay Christian Stores and online at www.lifewaystores.com.