By Rev. Jenni Ho-Huan

Photo by Anubhav Saxena on unsplash

The One Inner Life Resource A Leader Needs

15 May 2024

There are many definitions of what a leader is, and it often revolves around his or her tasks, such as this one: to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, in the right way.[1]

Indeed, in order to know what resources one needs, we need to first find the answer to something more foundational: the identity and purpose of a leader. Yet this question is frequently missed for the more pressing challenges we associate with leadership, making us focus on task competencies and skills acquisition. On top of these, we often add the expectation of character qualities.

In the early church as groups of believers mushroomed, the missionary-church planter St Paul advised regarding the appointment to leadership office a somewhat formulaic checklist that included: freedom from addictions, not greedy for dishonest gain, being blameless, the husband of one wife and an able manager of his children and household.

These lists found in Timothy and Titus have been described as focussing on character qualities, and indeed, the main difference between an elder and a deacon is a difference of gifts and calling, not character.[2]

The rich history of the church offers us more. Thanks to the church doctors and monastic orders, developed ideas of morality would underpin expectations of leaders. For example, the church would go on to develop the theology of virtues, derived from Scripture and developed alongside insights about human nature. There is even a helpful visual in the idea of a tree of virtue that springs from the ground of Humility.

These ongoing efforts serve two functions: for personal self-examination, and as frameworks for selecting or dismissing leaders.

But I would posit that the most key resource a leader needs is to revisit and clarify his or her “Why”.

Asking “why” is seeking vocational clarity and integrity through the stages and seasons of life. It is the root that sprouts many other useful efforts and resources including: seeking training, being a part of an accountability friendship group, submitting to spiritual rhythms and taking a sabbatical.

“Knowing our “why” helps us to clarify, navigate, even persist – through deathly vales.”

Psychologist Viktor Frankl who survived the Holocaust established a third school of psychology which is most biblically aligned, where he set before us that our core task as humans is to seek meaning, to ask “why”.

I think he is right. Knowing our “why” helps us to clarify, navigate, even persist – through deathly vales.

A faithful and fruitful leader visits his or her reason for assuming leadership, checking on one’s motives and motivation. This process grounds the leader and prevents hubris.

In an honest inward look, it is easy to find pride, exaggeration, fear of men, compromise and many other shades of darkness that easily influence our counsel and actions. This brings us to a place of confession, relinquishment, and a cry for divine help. The Great Shepherd of the flock is swift to come to the aid of such a child, servant and leader.

I remember as a young pastor running out of affection and patience easily. Further along, the very real snares of politics and strife can dampen or even dull one’s vocational integrity. We can end up so weary that we only go through the motions – but who needs that? At each season, I pulled back and created a space to ask myself why I am in the game, so to speak. I return to my calling, but also examine where I may be lacking in character and competencies.

“Each time I revisit “why”, the call to shepherd well and with Christ’s love matured and deepened me as it required me to stretch beyond my comfort zones, be intentional about being equipped, and wrestle with theological and practical approaches in life and ministry.”

As I asked “why” over the years, I found courage to be the unique pastoral leader God designed me to be and at the same time, empathise and collaborate with my pastoral colleagues in the city. Each time I revisit “why”, the call to shepherd well and with Christ’s love matured and deepened me as it required me to stretch beyond my comfort zones, be intentional about being equipped, and wrestle with theological and practical approaches in life and ministry.

The one resource you and I need is a habit of stepping back and courageously asking  “why”.

Ways to reflect on your “why”:

  • When you are discouraged, ask why you feel so, and what would motivate you again?
  • When you are overwhelmed, ask why each of the tasks are important, and you may find a way to re-prioritize.
  • When you feel small or unimportant, ask why your sense of security and significance is shaken and seek God for his supply and care.

Spiritual formation . . . is the ongoing process of the triune God transforming the believer’s life and character toward the life and character of Jesus Christ—accomplished by the ministry of the Spirit in the context of biblical community. [1]

When God called us to be His child, His plan for us is glorious, to transform us into the the person He intended for us to be.

Churchlife Resources has designed these tracks and modules to speak to your inner being, so that we are transformed to christ-likeness inside out, and able to multiply towards God’s purposes!

Email us at admin@churchlife-resources.org for more information.

Rev. Jenni Ho-Huan is the Managing Consultant at ChurchLife Resources, who desires to live with authenticity and help others develop a vibrant faith-life in their particular circumstances and personalities through a strong inner life.

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