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Spiritual Leadership

Essay by   •  February 22, 2019  •  Essay  •  2,308 Words (10 Pages)  •  18 Views

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Spiritual leadership influences individuals to motivate themselves and others in order to create a sense of spiritual existence based on their mission and membership. An article on workplace spirituality describes that, “Overall, the end goal for spiritual leadership is to develop more committed and productive followers by tapping into followers’ need for spiritual survival”(Low, 2018). Through this method of leadership a major goal is to retain followers of the organization and maintain a strong belief system. It is generally believed that these leaders are focused on treating those around them as equals; being completely honest and having an overall good character (Low, 2018). In terms of defining good character, James Low mentions features in a spiritual context as,  “integrity, honesty, and modesty while their spiritual behavior involves respect for others, equality in treating others, care, identification with contribution, and self-reflection”(Low, 2018).

Spiritual leadership can  be defined by 3 main characteristics. First, spiritual leaders usually guide others to realize their own purpose and identity.  The characteristic of spiritual leadership needed to achieve this goal is generosity. Emphasis must be placed on establishing a centralized goal that unifies the spiritual followers in a common direction.(Lean & Ganster, 2017) Next, they have the ability to influence their atmosphere (Hamp, 2012). When there is fear, tension or apathy, the spiritual leader can eliminate these negative emotions through the use of words to guide the thoughts of others (Hamp, 2012). This is with the aim that people can become energetic and passionate about their beliefs again. Even when speaking about controversial topics, spiritual leaders can express with patience and gentleness. Another characteristic of spiritual leadership is finding new methods to integrate old beliefs (Hamp, 2012). People stick to their own ideals according to their perceptual system rather than reality itself. Spiritual leaders call people to reinterpret old scriptures/texts in a modern way because looking at the same thing in a different way may lead to new discoveries.

Spiritual leaders face many challenges in their day to day life such as finding the most effective way to guide, modernizing the religion, and dealing with a lack of faith from members.

The nature of a spiritual leader’s job involves dealing with people of different backgrounds, cultures and languages. Therefore, being able to get along with people is one of the main challenges the spiritual leader faces. Furthermore, along with a spiritual leader’s ability to get along with people he/she must be companionate, whole hearted and understanding to other people’s needs.  In order to get buy-ins from people they must truly feel that the spiritual leader is genuine and truly feels for the individual’s misfortune.

Putting people’s needs before your needs is another challenge that spiritual leaders often face. Spiritual leaders must often dedicate time and effort out of their own time to help or solve people’s issues. This could include personal visits, fundraising for charities and spreading awareness in the community outside the place of worship.

Another challenge facing spiritual leaders is finding the right methods in approaching and guiding people. This is specifically challenging since there are vast differences in people's personalities and personal characteristics that determine how individuals like to be approached.

 The lack of faith from members of the religion for the spiritual leader or religion can pose a challenging task on leaders. This is amplified further by the growing trend of secularization in the western world.

Modernizing religions that existed thousands of years ago to match the 21 century needs a lot of creativity and understanding of how modern people think. This includes having spiritual leaders be aware of the continuously growing social trends. This creates additional challenges in the form of interpreting social trends and integrating them into procedures.

Spiritual leaders approach ordinary conflicts with different techniques compared to a common corporate leader. Their leadership style is focused on the followers, meaning they do not like to embed their personal biases amidst solving these conflicts (Low, 2018).

Liqun Pan gave the perspective of faith when describing how he would solve conflict within the church. He explained that everyone’s position in their beliefs varies which also changes how they choose to resolve their conflicts. He described that the closer you are to God, the closer you are to the people around you because strong faith brings people together. The priest does not find it his place to decide exactly how followers solve their conflicts but instead encourages them to reflect on their own wrongdoings in forms of repentance to provide relief. He is not delegating the behavior of those he is helping but rather telling them to let their personal beliefs and faith guide them. He explains there are “gray areas in social relations”, meaning not one person is entirely right in a situation.

One of the main principles of spiritual leadership is focusing on the interconnectedness of the members in the organization (Low, 2018). The priest focuses on maintaining a strong connection between the followers of the church and God. Self-efficacy is a major point of focus for a spiritual leader, if they can stimulate a solid belief structure within the followers then that will strengthen their ability to resolve their conflicts (Low, 2018). A spiritual leader looks to maintain the beliefs of the faith that they are representing and following the core values. That is the main approach the priest remembers when providing advice to those seeking help during times of conflict.

The answers from Liqun Pan provided us with some meaningful insights that connect research and theory to a real-world example. A dynamic set of group relations exist in essentially every business and organization as an inherent part of their existence. Liqun Pan revealed some differences and similarities in how this dynamic behaves in a church setting in comparison to a classical business manager. For instance, in an article written from Willis M. Watt, from the Methodist University, he says that the modern, “…church leader needs to showcase ethical leadership, personal responsibility, and community service. Success in all those areas lies in the ability of church leaders to initiate, develop, and maintain positive functioning relationships.” (Matt, 2014) In tandem with Liqun Pan’s suggestion that there is no hierarchy in a church, this reveals that the environment within a church, characterized by a relatively horizontal organizational chart is favourable to a person capable of great relationship building.
        Next, Liqun Pan mentions that the biggest difference in the way a priest behaves in comparison to another leader, is a function of the actual values and mission of the church. He states that, “The biggest difference between the pastor and the business manager, including all the secular groups is that all companies and groups are established to gather people for a certain purpose”. Alongside the definition, “Two or more people interacting interdependently to achieve a common goal.”(John and Saks, 2017), it is clear that because the concerns of a church do not rely on profit or power, the group dynamics are significantly different to a profit-oriented group.

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