“Spiritual leadership is knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to use God’s methods to get them there in reliance on God’s power.” John Piper’s definition permeates this little book, appropriately titled, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader. Piper maintains that the essence of spiritual leadership involves helping people move toward heart change. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit who transforms hearts, but in his mercy and grace, he sovereignly uses Christian leaders to play an important part of this process.
The author presents to aspects of spiritual leadership. First, the inner circle. The ultimate aim here is to glorify God. Piper urges, “The ultimate goal of all spiritual leadership is that other people might come to glorify God, that is, might so feel and think and act as to magnify the true character of God.” This is where people meditate on and pray over the Word of God. This is where people acknowledge their desperate need for God.
Piper cites the examples of Hudson Taylor and George Mueller as men who understood this inner circle, men who were committed to godliness and genuine heart change.
Second, the outer circle of spiritual leadership. This is the arena where leaders manifest qualities that are consistent with godliness. Piper presents several qualities that meet this criteria, including restlessness, optimism, intensity, self-control, thick-skin, energy, thinking ability, and being theologically oriented – among others.
The Marks of a Spiritual Leader is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to Christian leadership. Others have written more comprehensive books like Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders and The Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler. Piper’s work is a helpful addition and will no doubt encourage many men as they walk the path of a spiritual leader.