Spiritual leader or guru?

Often, I get a bit angsty trying to understand my role in the church. I understand that my office is pastor, but I feel more often like a missionary to the city and neighborhood our church is part of. That being said, there are certain requirements with the office of pastor and one of those is spiritual leader. That does not mean guru, “know it all,” or resident authority on the lives of those who ask me a question about their spiritual life. It does mean taking responsibility and caring for people who identity as part of our church community.

From his Book, Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal points out some key disciplines that all spiritual leaders must develop, I have highlighted them here:

  1. The discipline of self-awareness – this protects leaders from being self-absorbed or merely role driven.

“The difficulty with which some spiritual leaders acknowledge their ambition to seek greatness betrays its motivation.” ~ Reggie McNeal (Practicing Greatness)

  1. The discipline of self-management – acknowledges that great leaders are great managers, not just of others, but, primarily of themselves. Failure to manage yourself leaves a leader vulnerable.
  1. The discipline of self-development – never stop growing. Leaders choose to not only grow through strength but also through failure.
  1. The discipline of mission – Leaders give themselves to great causes. They order their lives focused on their mission rather than allowing others to hijack their agendas or distracting them.
  1. The discipline of decision making – Great leaders consistently make good decisions, knowing how, when and what decisions need to be made.
  1. The discipline of belonging – Great leaders practice community but also make a conscious decision to belong to others. They belong despite the risk, b/c they know that to quit risking is to quit loving and that to quit loving is to quit leading in the spiritual arena.
  1. The discipline of aloneness – great leaders not only endure loneliness of leadership but to actually build solitude into their lives. They appreciate the depth of soul making that is possible only in solitude and heart to heart exchanges with their Leader.

These are challenging and incredibly rewarding. I believe all of them are necessary and yet, I certainly have some work to do. If you are leading a faith community make this book part of your library.

Author: Bill Berger

Hi, my name is Bill Berger, Founder and Teaching Pastor at All Saints Church. I enjoy conversations with all who believe, doubt, and seek as it relates to God, Jesus, and religion. I am currently in a Ph.D program that is looking towards a Nomadic Theology tracing lines of flight for Pentecostal/Evangelical Church in Seattle. I am married to Sue, we live and work in Seattle serving the church we love, All Saints Church. We are always happy and grateful when we are spending time with our 4 children and their families, especially our 2 grandchildren! We are die hard Denver Broncos fans! It is always orange and blue in our house. We follow Oregon State Beaver Basketball, and hope that the Seattle Mariners make it to the World Series in our lifetime.

One thought on “Spiritual leader or guru?”

  1. God totally knows what we need when we need it. This is such a great reminder about how difficult it is not to just be a leader in the workplace, but especially as a spiritual leader. All of these disciplines are ones that take a lot of time to develop, but the one thing I take away from reading that, and in taking a temp check on where I’m at in my own life, is that we need to give ourselves a huge amount of grace in all of it. We aren’t perfect and we don’t have to be. THANK GOD FOR THAT! But it’s really easy to feel the pressures of perfection and the desire to not let anyone down, especially when you’re in a leadership role, and I can only imagine how insurmountable those feelings must be when in a pastoral role. Thank you for being a great leader for our church family and for our city, PB!

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