Dr Richard Green outlines some keys to one of the most important areas in leadership – our own personal spiritual growth.

In our development we need to move:

>> Beyond relationships to ministry effectiveness
>> Beyond ministry effectiveness to people development
>> Beyond development of people to multiplication of people developers.

The greatest source of influence comes from the integration of a person’s life. When a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions are integrated, there is great influence. If the thoughts are bad, the influence will be bad. Those who are influenced by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit and are able to integrate that influence into their total life, have power to influence others.

Four things that help personal spiritual growth

1. Being grace focused
2. Developing spiritual discipline
3. Right understanding of the priority of ministry
4. A workable model for spiritual development

Being grace focused

In running a church, I take initiative. But what I need to live out of is grace – the cultivated awareness that God has already seized the initiative. The traditional doctrine defining this truth is provenience; God is everywhere and always seizing the initiative. Provenience is the conviction that God has been working diligently, redemptively, and strategically before I appeared on the scene. He was there before I was aware there was something here for me to do. We learn to be attentive to the Holy Spirit who is already at work.1

‘Running the church’ questions often sound like “What do we do…?” and “How do we get things going again…?”

‘Grace’ questions sound like “What has God been doing here?” and “What traces of grace can I  discern in this life?” and “What has God set in motion that I can get in on?”

We distort the spiritual life and reality when we take ourselves as the starting point. The biblical conviction is that God is “long beforehand within my soul” – God has already taken the initiative.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world”
  – Ephesians 1:4 (NASB)

2. Developing spiritual discipline

Without adequate spiritual discipline, the best of talents and best intentions cannot prevent a thinning out into a life that becomes mostly impersonation. What means do you use to bring your spiritual goals into being in your congregation?

“The pastor who has no facility in means buys games and gimmicks and programs without end, under the illusion of being practical.”2

3. Right understanding of ministry

>> Ministry takes priority over leadership and management.

>> Ministry is about the life of God flowing out of us to others as we serve others.

>> Ministry is not about pragmatics, doing things that work, but about ethics – doing the right things. Where programs, church growth principles, sociological and anthropological observation displace prayer, scripture reading and spiritual direction as priorities, then ministry loses its true intention.

>> There is probably no other profession in which it is as easy to fake it as in ours.

>> Ministry requires someone who is committed to standards of integrity and performance that cannot be altered to suit people’s tastes or what they are willing to pay for.

4. A workable model for spiritual development

>> Three Critical Areas: Ministering, leading and managing

>> Ministry disconnected from acts of personal prayer, devotion to the Scriptures, reflection, etc. – is no longer given its shape by God.


1 Peterson, Eugene H., 1987, Working the Angles – The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, William B. Eerdmans Publishing
2 Peterson, Eugene H., 1987, Working the Angles – The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, William B. Eerdmans Publishing