Leadership Which Quickens the Pulse and Stirs the Heart

“What are the qualities of leadership, and, above all, what makes someone a spiritual leader?

Commentary January 19, 2023

19 January | St. Albans, England [David Neal]

When I was about ten or eleven years old, I won the the 3rd quarter’s Sabbath School prize. I have no idea why, but imagine it was possibly for reciting correctly all the Junior memory verses for the quarter – I really cannot remember. But the prize was a small paperback book, published by Scripture Union called ‘What Makes a Leader?’¹  With the treasured book still on my study bookshelf today, it examines ten prominent Bible characters to discover their leadership qualities – Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, David, Daniel, John, Simon Peter and Paul. For each it then asks a critical question we are still seeking answers to today in these complex times about leadership today:

“What are the qualities of leadership, and, above all, what makes someone a spiritual leader – the sort of person who stands on the Godward side of humanity and points men and women to Him?”

This question continues to be relevant because ‘Good leadership always makes a difference,’ says pastor and leadership coach, John Maxwell. He’s seen what good leadership can do in turning around organisations (including churches), positively impacting the lives of thousands of individuals. Maxwell continues, “True leadership is not easy to learn but what worthwhile thing is? Becoming a better leader pays dividends, but it takes great effort. Leadership requires a lot from a person. It is demanding and complex.”

“You can say that again”, muse those engaged in church leadership.

Here’s what he means…

  • Leadership is the willingness to put oneself at risk.
  • Leadership is the passion to make a difference with others.
  • Leadership is being dissatisfied with the current reality.
  • Leadership is taking responsibility while others are making excuses.
  • Leadership is seeing possibilities in a situation while others are seeing limitations.
  • Leadership is the readiness to stand out in a crowd.
  • Leadership is an open mind and an open heart.
  • Leadership is the ability to submerge ego for the sake of what is best.
  • Leadership is evoking in others the capacity to dream.
  • Leadership is inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute.
  • Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.
  • Leadership is your heart speaking to the hearts of others.
  • Leadership is the integration of heart, head, and soul.
  • Leadership is the capacity to care; and in caring, to liberate ideas, energy and capacity of others.
  • Leadership is the dream made reality.
  • Leadership is, above all, courageous.²

Of the leadership characteristics Maxwell describes, do any ‘quicken your pulse and stir your heart’? As we begin another year of ministry serving the Lord, the Church and His mission, a prayer that our gifts, talents and temperament make the ‘leadership difference’ which changes the leadership culture of the church for the better at all levels.

Is leadership a spiritual gift? Yes, says Paul: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us… If it is to lead, do it diligently’ (Romans 12:6-8, NIV).

Letter to David Neal
The letter from my Sabbath School teacher circa 1974.


The Sabbath School teacher wrote in my book,

“Be a Shepherd; There are sheep enough.”

It is a work in progress…





¹John Eddison (1974), What Makes a Leader?, Scripture Union.
²John C. Maxwell (2015), The Leadership Handbook; 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs,‎ Thomas Nelson.

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