adequate leadershipThree signs of adequate spiritual leadership

Any great endeavor either fails or succeeds because of leadership. Leadership is foundational and an adequate leadership is the key to success. We can express and describe the characteristics of an adequate leadership with the following equation widely used in some leadership materials and courses that helps us understand the equilibrium that must exist in the exercise of spiritual authority:

The equation for balanced authority

  • Position = character + gift + call + time

If we invert this equation we can also conclude that:

  • Position – character = irresponsibility
  • Position – gift = inefficiency
  • Position – call = violence
  • Position – time = immaturity and pride

An adequate position of authority demands the combination of these four factors. This is what God desires.


No man can adequately exercise authority without first having submitted to it. Lack of submission breeds confusion and imbalance. Therefore, it is necessary to understand this concept clearly. I have already presented definitions and examples of what submission is. Now I will suggest what it is not.

Submission is not annulment – submission is not an emotional conditioning in which a person annuls him or herself because of fear and rejection or by threats of retaliation. This is mere subservience.

Submission is not blind obedience – submission does not exclude the right to understand the situation. As I already suggested here, no man may demand unquestionable obedience. This does not mean that we only obey if we agree, but that the submission must always be conscious.

Submission is not bondage – true submission is never forced or demanded but is supported by responsibility and willingness. Not even God forces submission, because it must come from the heart.

Submission is not omission – many people motivated by fear use the strategy of silence and clam up for everything. Omission can mean indifference to the leader or repressed anger. Submission must be the fruit of a conscious and voluntary intention of the follower to do God’s will through the conviction given by the Holy Spirit.


The exercise of authority is proportional to the maturity of the follower, since it exists to protect him. We can perceive this in a clearer way when we understand the relationship of dependence, independence and interdependence between parents and children.

Dependence – In infancy, we are all totally dependent. The parents must care for the child and therefore they exercise greater authority.

Independence – In adolescence, we want to be independent. As an adolescent child begins to assume responsibility for himself, the demands of authority also decrease.

Interdependence – In adulthood we are independent. Here authority begins to exercise itself in a more subtle way, since both have reached the same level. The mature adult knows that he must obtain mutual cooperation to continue growing.

The goal of authority is to neither produce nor perpetuate dependence, but interdependence, where everyone works in harmony to fulfill the purpose for which they were created.


Sometimes our submission also demonstrates our spirituality. When we spontaneously decide to follow certain types of leaders that are outside God’s pattern, we reveal the reality of our heart Jeremiah prophesied that the prophets prophesied falsely, and the priests ruled by their own power; and God’s people loved to have it so. (Jeremiah 5:31). When we do not accept God ordained leaders, invariably we end up following foolish and libertine leaders. The responsibility for this error belongs to the follower as much as it does to the leader.

There are two very important principles with respect to this:

A church or a nation rises or falls upon its leadership. The leadership that we follow determines what we are. People may suffer the consequences of the sins and mistakes of their leaders, as happened with those who followed David, whose sin of numbering the people without God’s authorization, caused all the people to suffer (1 Chronicles 21:1-8). However, the reverse also is true: because of the faithfulness of the leader the people can be blessed. We see an example of this in the life of Moses when because of his intercession by asking God to spare the people or else blot his name out of the book of life; everyone was saved (Exodus 32:30-35). Therefore, we need to be very careful in the manner that we lead, because it determines who our followers are and what they will become.

The leadership limits spiritual growth. The leader is the limit of the people. If we are under a poor leadership in God, we will have little chance for growth. The majority of people will never go beyond the level of their leaders. In order for a church to grow, the leaders must grow first. In order for the church to change, the leader must change first.

An adequate leadership is one that is most similar to that of Jesus. Therefore, we must hold Him up as the model and choose leaders who also do this, because what we are and what we do is largely determined by our leaders and their leadership.