As everywhere, you will find a lot of self-appointed “spiritual leaders”, and a very true real spiritual leaders. The difference often is that people in the former group claim to be spiritual leaders, and the leaders in the latter group don’t even mention it. They just do it. They just lead. In a spiritual way.
Before we jump into spiritual leadership, let’s first recap what spirituality is. I wrote about my thoughts on spirituality a few months ago. In a nutshell, and that’s a key element for me, spirituality is not connected to any religion, it’s not a belief system, and it’s nothing you can read in a book and apply.
Spirituality is an ongoing journey of discovery, experience and learning to get to the core of your soul, to liberate your soul, and to live your soul’s purpose. Spirituality builds on the fact that all souls out there are elements of a connected universe, based on the universal principles of love, collaboration, and the law of cause and effect.
Now, when it comes to spiritual leadership, let’s discuss a few defining attributes:
Spiritual leadership is never discretionary. Spiritual leadership requires to walk the talk, and it requires a decision. The decision to lead. The decision to act. The decision to take responsibility. The decision to touch as many souls a possible to drive the necessary change to a peaceful world.
Spiritual leadership requires that you have already found your way to your soul’s dimensions, that you already live your soul’s purpose, that you have already cleared a lot of karmic stuff, wrong perceptions and false beliefs that hindered you so far to walk your talk.
Let me add another thought regarding (false) beliefs: In my experience, the best way is to get rid of ALL beliefs that have been projected on you since birth, such as religious, cultural, and yes, also spiritual beliefs. Because for one simple reason: Beliefs limit your experience in one way or another. So, question every single one, and make a conscious decision whether to get rid of it or not. If you chose to keep a “belief” in your life, it’s no longer a belief. Then, it becomes one of your principles you have decided to live by. And that’s a huge difference because you brought your consciousness into play. This is just one example for questioning what you experience along your (spiritual) journey.
This is why spiritual leadership requires time to grow; and lots of iterations. But first and foremost, spiritual leadership demands that you walk your spiritual journey first. Furthermore, the knowledge that you will never know everything or you will never know “enough” is another prerequisite. The ability to learn new things, to make new experiences that lead to an adjustment of your teachings is relevant for any leader, but it is a prerequisite to becoming an authentic spiritual leader. Because we are all growing continuously.
There is no such thing as “spiritual management.” Souls can be inspired and led, but they cannot be “managed.”
When discussing leadership in general, there is often the debate whether there is a difference between management and leadership or not. When it comes to spiritual leadership, there is one thing crystal clear to me: there is no such thing as “spiritual management.” Management, mostly defined as optimising and improving processes to make them more efficient and effective is not what could be applied in the field of spiritual growth in any way. There is no such thing as a spiritual “process”, as a process how to learn a new language. There is no such thing as five steps to becoming spiritual, and another ten to achieving enlightenment. Whoever tells you “just do this” is not an authentic spiritual leader. Therefore, there is nothing to be “managed.” Instead, living beings can only be led along THEIR journey. And each soul has another spiritual journey, by definition, because every living being is a unique individuation of the universe, of the source; you name it. Souls have different soul origins, and souls are dominated by different soul energies. What works for one soul, might not be the right approach for the other one. Therefore, a spiritual leader has to develop the ability to inspire and to lead these souls along THEIR spiritual journey.
In a nutshell, this is what spiritual leadership means to me:
Spiritual leadership is the capability of equipping living beings to live their soul’s purpose based on the universal principles of love, collaboration, connectedness, and the law of cause and effect.
Now, let’s look at the essential attributes of a spiritual leader.
- Being love: The essence we are all born within our hearts is love. Unconditional love. But for so many souls, love got lost over time, alongside with basic trust. Instead, fear has been developed, and hearts have been closed. You see it all over the place, with human beings and our animal friends. So, a key challenge on each spiritual journey is to remove all blockages that hinder these souls to have access to the love in their hearts again. Spiritual leaders should be very advanced on their own journey to be love. One more thought on this: Being love does not mean that each decision is based on love only. While love should, of course, always be the guiding principle, true leadership also requires, if needed, to make unpleasant decisions to ensuring the best possible outcome for an entire group of students. And that’s actually “being love.”
- Integrity is based on a certain level of ethical values, such as honesty and truth, principles and the ability to live these values and principles on a daily basis. In other words, integrity is how someone behaves when nobody is watching. For me, it’s the foundation of leadership, whether you lead a company, an organisation, or simply yourself. As an example, if you define certain housekeeping rules for your students, and then you break self-defined own rules when situations become difficult, and tough decisions should be made, you put your integrity at risk. This can make or break you in your role as a spiritual leader. In a nutshell, integrity as a spiritual leader is the combination of love and integrity.
- Self-leadership: If you cannot lead yourself, and take the responsibility for your life based on the values and principles you have defined for yourself, how do you want to lead others in any way? Exactly, it won’t work. Self-leadership is a mandatory prerequisite to lead others. Spiritual leaders should have a proven track record of driving successful change in their lives.
- Authenticity has a lot to do with stepping out of the crowd, not trying to be a copy of another leader you may admire. It’s amazing if you could learn from other excellent leaders, but now is the time to step up. Authenticity requires to be completely you, to live your wisdom and truth, and to lead accordingly. Authenticity means to create your footprints, rather than to follow in someone else’s footsteps. This is an essential step in developing own leadership skills, and it’s also a critical step for the leader(s) you currently work with. Great leaders will always encourage you to create your footprints. Because that’s their ultimate goal: to create new leaders, not new followers.
- Creativity and curiosity: Both attributes belong together. True creativity is an essence that flows through the body of a soul and manifests itself in creative outcomes. Often, creative outcomes require a curious mind that always asks one more question to challenge the current state, or to walk a path nobody has walked before, or to try something new, often by connecting existing dots in another way. Spiritual leaders need both, creative approaches for their teachings, and they have to be curious to learn more about their students and the souls they work with, and ultimately, spiritual leaders should always remain curious about the beauty and the creativity of their own soul.
And yes, there is another one, humour!
You might be surprised to find “humour” here as an attribute for spiritual leaders. But you know what?
The greatest spiritual leaders I’m working with have all a great sense of humour. And they are great storytellers.
Getting a teaching wrapped in a joke or a beautiful story is simply priceless.
Because unwrapping the lesson is part of the lesson…