Clippings from Spiritual Leadership

Day 7 of J. Oswald Sanders and Spiritual Leadership.

Chapter 9 = More Essential Qualities of Leadership

Sanders lists 9 qualities that leaders must possess and continually refine:

  1. Humor
  2. Anger
  3. Patience
  4. Friendship
  5. Tact and Diplomacy
  6. Inspirational power
  7. Executive ability
  8. The therapy of listening
  9. The art of letter writing (keep in mind that Sanders lived in the days before e-mail, but the principles still apply)


  • “It is a most serious deficiency if a [leader] lacks a sense of humor.”
  • “Our sense of humor is a gift from God which should be controlled as well as cultivated.”
  • NOTE: “Controlled as well as cultivated” is a valuable insight for today’s leaders. There seems to be a trend towards crass humor from spiritual leaders. It is possible to be funny without being crude, mean, or classless; that kind of humor comes from a leader who has not “cultivated” his/her sense of humor.


  • “Great leaders – people who turn the tide and change the direction of events – have been angry at injustice and abuse that dishonors God and enslaves the weak.”
  • NOTE: What are you angry about? Will your anger move you to do good?


  • “The word (patience) never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things. It is victorious endurance [and] constancy under trial. It is Christian steadfastness, the brave and courageous acceptance of everything life can do to us, and the transmuting of even the worst into another step on the upward way. It is the courageous and triumphant ability to bear things, which enables a man to pass breaking point and not to break, and always to greet the unseen with a cheer.” William Barclay


  • “You can measure leaders by the number and quality of their friends.”
  • “Leaders must draw the best out of people, and friendship does that far better than prolonged argument or mere logic.”

Tact and Diplomacy

  • “Leaders need to be able to reconcile opposing viewpoints without giving offense or compromising principle. A leader should be able to project into the life and heart and mind of another, then setting aside personal preferences, deal with the other in a fashion that fits the other best.” After writing all of this, Sanders offers hope to those who lack tact/diplomatic skills, “These skills can be learned and developed.”

Inspirational power

  • A leader must inspire others to serve and sacrifice. He/she must “work hard, but also possess the ability to get others to work hard. [His/her] zeal and drive and inspiration must be infectious.”
  • NOTE: This kind of power is typically the result of a passionate commitment to a cause greater than oneself.

Executive ability

  • “However spiritual a leader may be, he/she cannot translate vision into action without executive ability. It is true that subtle dangers lie in organization, for if it is overzealous it can be an unsatisfactory substitute for the working of the Holy Spirit. But lack of method and failure to organize have spelled doom for many promising ministries.”
  • “Our duty is to reflect the orderliness of God in all we do for Him.”

The therapy of listening

  • “To get at the root of problems, a leader must master the art of listening. Too many strong personalities are compulsive talkers.”
  • “Leader who want to show sensitivity should listen often and long, and talk short and seldom. Many so-called leaders are too busy to listen. True leaders know that time spent listening is well invested.”

The art of letter writing

  • “Any position of leadership involves a considerable amount of correspondence, and letters are self-revealing.”
  • NOTE: interesting thought here – what does your correspondence say about you? If someone were to write your biography 50 years after your death, what would they say about you based on what they learned from your correspondence with others?

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