From the perspective of the Christ following leader there is an inherent coupling between a personal relationship with Christ and the ability to effectively execute as a leader in an organization. The challenge is that there is little analysis that supports this seemingly intuitive assertion. Most literature is anecdotal in nature demanding further study through unbiased research methodologies in order to establish within the secular leadership culture the notion that spirituality and in particular Judeo-Christian spirituality is essential in a cogent leadership theory debate [1, 2].
A literature review of spirituality and leadership reveals that several of the “spirituality in the workplace” researchers consign the Christ following leader to the pantheon of all spiritual categories regardless of substantive validity. As Christ following leaders, we must move from the a prior yet certain assertion that the Bible is infallible and as such informs the value and validity of certain leadership theories toward a coherent leadership theory that Biblically informs the leader and one I contend is embodied in steward leadership. An approach to leadership by the Christ following leader must be one that is grounded in scholarly leadership research while at the same time validating the undergirding premise that scripture is God inspired and therefore appropriate for any leadership application while at the same time growing the leader [3-6].
I conducted a recent study of Christian leaders within well-established evangelical organizations, there were some not unsurprising results revealed as it relates to leadership and spiritual development. Every study participant concluded that there is undeniable mutual support between leading and developing as a Christ follower. The urgency of knowing Christ and leading well could not be understated. Further the idea of relationship building and maintaining within an organization which is well supported in various leadership theories to include authentic, servant, and steward leadership along with a vibrant spiritual life went hand-in-glove with the idea of leading in any circumstance.
Christ followers are called to grow in Christ likeness while leading and stewarding God’s resources including people who have been entrusted to the Christ following leader. The challenge for the leader is then to prayerfully delve into the leadership theories that most closely represent Biblical principles in an effort to cultivate an effective leadership style that at the same time grows the leader’s relationship with God.
One typically considers finances and tithing when the word “steward” is broached in leadership theory discussions. Frankly this mind set is fairly narrow as the renowned leaders of the Bible were steward leaders investing in all of the resources afforded them. In the examples these leaders set their primary resources were people particularly as you consider Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, Deborah, David, Solomon, Peter, John, and Paul. Seldom was the subject of money brought forward as a point of discussion although one could argue the case for Joseph, yet the real message was people and leading God’s people inspired by God’s influence.
Steward leadership behavior elicits three types of behavior: relational, contextual, and motivational which in turn encourages followers to act with moral courage and recognize personal responsibility for their decisions and conduct . Wilson adds to this five characteristics of the steward leader: “the steward leader… (1) knows the mind of the owner… (2) is accountable… (3) serves… (4) stewards a wide range of resources… and (5) develops stewardship in others… Steward leadership is one of the oldest, and most contemporary, leadership models around” .
Contend with God’s Word as you delve into leadership theories that ought to influence and inspire your leadership style and consider steward leadership as a point of departure in your studies.
George “Kip” Warton is a 3rd year PhD student in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He is alos the Instructor Pilot and site lead for the unmanned aircraft program at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. A retired Air Force Fighter Pilot , he has 5000 hours flying time and 29 years experience leading and teaching.
1. Banks, R.J. and K. Powell, Faith in leadership: How leaders live out their faith in their work – and why it matters. 2000, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. xi, 244 p.
2. Statnick, R.A., Elements of spiritual leadership. Human Development, 2004. 25(4): p. 14-24.
3. Hannah, S.T., B.J. Avolio, and F.O. Walumbwa, Relationships between authentic leadership, moral courage, and ethical and pro-social behaviors. Business Ethics Quarterly, 2011. 21(4): p. 555-578.
4. Patterson, K.A., Servant leadership: A theoretical model. 2003, Regent University: United States — Virginia. p. 35 p.
5. Winston, B.E., Extending Patterson’s servant leadership model: Explaining how leaders and followers interact in a circular model, in 2003 Servant Leadership Research Roundtable. 2003, The School of Leadership Studies, Regent University: Virginia Beach, VA.
6. Wilson, K.R., Steward leadership: Characteristics of the steward leader in Christian nonprofit organizations. 2010, University of Aberdeen. p. 1-325.
7. Hernandez, M., Promoting stewardship behavior in organizations: A leadership model. Journal of Business Ethics, 2008. 80(1): p. 121-128.
8. Wilson, K.R., The steward leader. 2010. p. 2.
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