There are several definitions for “spiritual leader” and the term brings to mind  different things to different people. Some think of a spiritual leader as a sort  of guru. Others think of him/her as a life coach, one who can guide others  through the problems and trials of life. The Bible describes a spiritual leader  as one who possesses the spiritual gift of  leadership, the ability to lead others as a direct result of the gifting  received from, and performed by the power of, the Holy Spirit.

The  biblical spiritual leader understands that his/her leadership is one of  servanthood. The spiritual leader leads by example, as Jesus did, who said He  came to serve others, not to be served by them (Matthew  20:25-28). The spiritual leader recognizes that he is first and foremost a  servant. Jesus modeled the true servant style of leadership, when He, the Lord  incarnate, bent down and washed the feet of His disciples, teaching them that  the true measure of a leader is one who first serves others (John 13:12-17).

The spiritual leader also recognizes that his role in the church is “to equip  the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12), and he  concerns himself with doing just that. Spiritual leaders know that their main  task is to sanctify the people of God and their prayer is the same as Jesus’  prayer to the Father: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Like Jesus, the  spiritual leader knows that the Word of God is the food of the soul and that it  alone sanctifies. Rather than acquiescing to the “felt needs” of the people he  leads, he shepherds others to maturity in the faith by speaking the truth in  love so that those he leads “will in all things grow up into him who is the  Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians  4:15).

Finally, the spiritual leader is concerned with the souls of  those he leads. This is not to say that he cares nothing for the physical needs  of his people. But his primarily responsibility is leading them to spiritual  maturity so that they will be fully equipped and “no longer be infants, tossed  back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching  and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).