the shape of leadership

Leading With the Fruit of the Spirit

A 10-week study for leadership teams

While discipleship ministries often emphasize the fruit of the Spirit, it’s easy to forget this teaching applies to leaders too.

Our culture tends to associate leadership with busyness, boldness, aggressiveness and assertiveness. When people think of leaders, words like “love,” “joy,” and “forbearance” may not spring immediately to mind.

Some might even consider it a weakness for leaders to exhibit traits like kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Of course, that’s not what Scripture teaches.

When leaders embrace, cultivate and model the fruit of the Spirit, they begin leading like Jesus — the greatest leader the world has ever known.

This installment of Make It Count is all about becoming more Christlike. The following 10 lessons explore the fruit of the Spirit from a leadership perspective:

1. Leadership and the Fruit of the Spirit. Leaders can’t pick and choose when it comes to the fruit of the Spirit. They need all nine character traits, cultivated through regular fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

2. Leading With Love. Ministry is all about people. As author Jon Tyson notes, leaders must choose to love as they listen, observe, value, encourage and respond to others.

3. Leading With Joy. Joy is not a feeling that depends on outside circumstances. It’s a choice we can make as we practice gratitude, cultivate healthy perspectives, and seek out positive people.

When leaders embrace, cultivate and model the fruit of the Spirit, they begin leading like Jesus — the greatest leader the world has ever known.

4. Leading With Peace. This kind of leadership must come from a place of peace and a posture of peace. We find a place of peace by spending time with God. A posture of peace then keeps us from bulldozing the people we lead.

5. Leading With Patience. Patience can bump against the desire for progress. However, patience is key to spiritual formation, improved relationships, and broader buy-in to the vision.

6. Leading With Kindness. Kind leaders are more than “nice.” They express kindness by withholding judgment from those they lead and extending compassion to the people around them.

7. Leading With Goodness. Goodness denotes both benevolence and uprightness of heart. In other words, when we lead with goodness, we choose to be good and do good.

8. Leading With Faithfulness. We often equate faithfulness with showing up. Yet biblical faithfulness goes much deeper. When we lead with faithfulness, we model loyalty to God, wise stewardship of Kingdom resources, and consistency in our commitment.

9. Leading With Gentleness. This trait might seem weak, but gentleness requires strength of character. It involves submission of our will to God and a posture of humility before Him.

10. Leading With Self-Control. The ability to control one’s appetites is essential to effective leadership. Without self-control, we’ll make rash decisions, engage in unhealthy pursuits, and treat people with disrespect.

As you discuss and apply each lesson with your team, your leadership will begin to look more like Christ’s. And you may notice a difference in your working relationships.


Adapted from the Summer 2022 edition of Influence magazine.

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