Holy Spirit driven leadership is the ability to lead from the inside out versus the outside in. It flows from having your identity grounded in your relationship with Jesus. As you experience the depth of His love for you, the Holy Spirit gains access into your mind, will, and emotions. As a youth, my favorite author was Leo Buscaglia. My room was filled with his uplifting quotes. A few of the following still carry me forward in life:
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Jesus modeled the above quote when He walked the earth. Are you a leader in life? Perhaps you waver in your response as the words pop up in your mind, “Well, I think so, I would like to think so… it depends on your definition of leader.” A Spirit-driven leader in life is one who moves from the inside out versus the outside in, who guides another back to themselves as connected to God and their greatest expression of who they are created to be in this world. When a leader moves from the Holy Spirit’s promptings they can go for what they want without the heaviness of attachment to something outside of his/herself.. An attachment is an emotional state of clinging due to the belief that without some specific thing, , or outcome you cannot be happy. A Spirit-driven leader is not concerned about the impression they make on others. This is living from the outside in, which will always render the one who plays this finite game of life vulnerable to rising and falling depending upon how the world judges them at that time… it is exhausting and unproductive.
Below are 5 things to know for Holy Spirit-driven leadership:
- A leader is a constant student, knowing that their ability to develop talent in another is in direct proportion to their ability to develop their own gifts and talents. The student and the Teacher (Counselor/Holy Spirit) co-exist within the heart of the Holy Spirit-driven leader. “The student is not above the teacher. But everyone who is fully trained will be like the teacher.” Luke 6:40
- The Holy Spirit-driven leader gives his/her spirit permission to guide others through the archway of love and humility utilizing appreciative inquiry and servant leadership rather than bullying behavior. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14-15
- Knowing that a successful organization is made up of individuals who seek out learning opportunities for growth, the Holy Spirit-driven leader creates a learning environment that fosters engagement: the force that motivates employees to higher levels of performance (Practices for Engaging the 21st Century Workforce, Castellano, 2014). “Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 Love evokes love.
- A Holy Spirit driven-leader is one who has mastered himself in the area of impulse control revealing emotional intelligence that flows from the practice of overriding fleshly outbursts, more commonly known as ego-driven behavior: I need to rise above you in order to feel successful and enough. A Holy Spirit- driven leader fosters the growth in others without the fear of being overlooked or unseen in the light of the success of another for the good of all concerned, including the organization. “For God did not give us a Spirit of timidity but of power, love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
- The Holy Spirit-driven leader lives in the space of mental observation verses reactive behavior. The one who steps away from defensive routines: entrenched habits we use to protect ourselves from the embarrassment and threat that come from exposing our thinking (The Fifth Discipline, Senge, 2006). Rather than avoiding vulnerability they champion it as an effective tool for instant human connection and learning opportunities. Jesus was masterful at this. For example, a colleague is invited to a meeting you think you should have been in on, your first reaction is defensive, “I should have been included”. As you pause and ask the Holy Spirit to calm your emotions and help you respond with love, you gain a mental position of observation verses emotional reaction. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing (vulnerable) by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7
Action Step: Bookend the day with prayerful reflection around what worked and what didn’t work specifically focusing on your choice of response to people and circumstances around you. Start your day with prayer and invite the Holy Spirit in to help you create a desired intention for the day. For example: “My intention today is to tune into moments when the Holy Spirit moves me to encourage the people around me. I want to make God recognizable to the people entrusted to my care in my intonation, facial expressions, body language and words I use.”
Prayer: Dear God, I want to be the kind of leader that gives my spirit permission to guide my flesh. Grant me the grace to release my need to own, control or possess a conversation. Give me the ability to stand outside of judgments and assumptions, to encourage the open flow of dialogue, and to step away from the expert role so as to include and empower the people around me. Holy Spirit help me to lead like Jesus.