The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christian Leadership

The Holy Spirit’s role in a Christian’s life never ceases the instance one believes. He continues with us all our days as we walk in the gifts he graciously supplies. One of the areas of life we need him most is leadership, primarily Christian leadership in church, para-church organizations, offices, and other places. 

What is Christian Leadership?

According to Leadership Ministries INC, “Christian leadership is that which has as its highest aim to glorify God by guiding others to grow in faith and service to God.” “You cannot be a faith-centred individual and separate that aspect of your life from your leadership,” it adds. What that means is that we should not cluster our lives, realizing instead that if we are born again, everything around us is tagged ‘Christian’. That is our primary identity. Therefore, it means that if, as a believer, I am a mechanic, then I am first a Christian, then a mechanic. Suppose I am a lawyer, a Christian lawyer. Whatever my line of duty, my vocation or calling defines it, and not vice versa. My faith and conviction should affect all that I do. 

Christian leadership should not be misconstrued to apply only to those who have Christian names and go to a Church and sing and speak Christian-ese! Otherwise, we wouldn’t be faced with the dilemma of many so-called Christians who have marred and shamed the name of Jesus because of living rogue lives. Indeed, in our country, Kenya, as with much of the world, we must interrogate the errors made in the name of Christian leadership across the spectrum: pastors, missionaries, government leaders, children’s homes, and the like. 

The sole difference between self-made Christian leaders and those guided by the Holy Spirit Spirit is how they execute their duties and roles. Let us consider then how the Spirit of God moves in the lives of Christian leaders.

Calling Leaders

The Holy Spirit’s foundational role in Christian leadership is to call people into positions and responsibilities of leadership. The first such installation into leadership was God assigning Adam (Genesis 1:26) to rule over his creation. When later men would kindle his wrath by sinning, God, before destroying the earth in a flood, called Noah to himself (Genesis 6:5-22). And when he wanted to raise a nation for himself, God called the man Abraham (Genesis 12), who became the conduit of such amazing grace. When Israel had stayed 430 years in captivity (Exodus 12:40), God called Moses to lead them from Egypt (Exodus 3:4) into freedom. When it came time for the people to cross into the Promised Land, they followed one man—Joshua (Joshua 1:11). When they had all gone past the Jordan and into the land of promise, God continued to raise leaders for his people. Even when the people rejected God as king and demanded a physical king (1 Samuel 8:4-22), God chose King Saul for them. 

We see the same spread throughout Scripture, confirming that God calls men by his Holy Spirit. Space does not allow us to touch on Rahab, the prostitute (Joshua 2:1-24), Gideon (Judges 6:11-17,20-27,36-40), Samson (Judges 13:1-7,24-25, 14:5-6,18-20, 15:14-15, 16:20-22), Ruth (Ruth 1:1-18, 4:13-18), Samuel (1 Samuel), David, the prophets, et al., all whom the Lord called into leadership. 

Equipping Leaders

The Holy Spirit also equips leaders with the necessary gifts for performing their roles and duties. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon those responsible for constructing the Temple (Exodus 31:1-37:9). God’s Spirit not only calls us into the ministry but equips us for the work. 

In the New Testament, we see God equipping leaders (all believers, really) with Spiritual gifts so that they can serve the Church. Paul says that all our gifts are God-given (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) and are to be used for the good of the Church. Christian leadership is established by the call of God through his Spirit, and the Spirit of God equips the leadership to serve the people of God. Beyond training and seminars–and there is much value in these–the Christian leader must entirely depend on the working of the Spirit of God to be equipped for better service. 

Encouraging Leaders in Crisis

As in any other role, the Christian leader is not exempted from life’s challenges – personal, organizational, spiritual, and others. They are human and live in a world where tribulation abounds (John 16:33). The Spirit of God encourages the leader during such times. When, like David the King (1 Samuel 30:6-8), the leader finds himself between a rock and a hard place, the Holy Spirit comes along, digs within his bosom, and brings heaven’s comfort. 

When, as a leader, you feel like throwing in the towel, remember that the Spirit of God within is more than willing to encourage you. 

Gives Wisdom

The Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Wisdom (Isaiah 11:2), gives wisdom to the leader. John Piper defines biblical wisdom as “knowing the greatest goal in any situation and the best way to achieve that goal.” According to the NIV Lifehacks Bible ebook, “wisdom is a capacity of the mind that allows us to understand life from God’s perspective.” 

Naturally, we do not always know the best goal for a situation, but we can if we depend on the Lord. That is why the Holy Spirit of God gives us the wisdom to manoeuver through trying situations, even as we perform our roles and responsibilities (James 1:5). 

Instills integrity

The Spirit also instils integrity so that we are faithful and reliable leaders. Titus says that God’s grace teaches us to say ‘no’ to worldly passions and to live upright lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12). Temptation and compromise are all around us. Therefore, we must be vigilant as leaders to walk in integrity so that the body of Christ is built up and strengthened. Christian leaders must be found faithful in how they do things for the sake of Christ’s name and God’s glory (Isaiah 26:8).

Are you struggling to keep your head above water and stay sharp in your ministry executions? Plead with the Spirit of God for the spirit of integrity. He gives generously, keeping us from being marred with corruption. 

In conclusion, the Christian leader—the leader born of the Spirit—cannot afford to execute his role without Christ’s signature. Christ defines a leader’s role. God achieves this by ensuring that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the leader’s life is constant. Doubtless, in the Spirit, we have everything we need to lead God’s people. 



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