For years, Christian women have sought the evasive “spiritual leader,” a term not seen in Scripture, though indicated in Paul’s commands to elders in the church (Titus 1:5-9). The framework of home and marriage, designed by God, does call men to assume responsibility for their families. But leadership within the church is not limited by gender. So why is it that only women seek a “spiritual leader”? Should we be using this term at all? I think not, and here’s why.
Spiritual maturity is more important than spiritual leadership.
It’s human to confuse status with authority, but these two are not the same thing. True Christian leadership is not about visibility but spiritual maturity. The leader of a Bible study might seem like the poster child for spiritual leadership—he’s leading a spiritual gathering! And yet, the quiet, less notable man in the back row may be just as grounded—or more!—in His walk with God than the guy holding the microphone.
It is maturity to which Paul calls all Christians. It is maturity that equips Christian leaders—male and female alike. Many are willing to administrate, organize and “hang out”; many are willing to take the stage, lead the discussion or facilitate a study. Not many are willing to do the hard work of drawing near to God, saying no to sin, choosing holiness over and over again. If these two happen to coincide—true maturity and extroverted leadership—it can be a powerful force for God! But let’s not get distracted by the trappings of leadership without the real substance of faith.
Spiritual leadership takes many forms.
Since every Christian should be looking for spiritual maturity in a spouse, both parties need to be equally passionate about God (as Paul put it, “equally yoked”). These passions direct us into the unique calling God has placed on each of our lives. This uniqueness means leadership will look different for each person.
A spiritual leader may be male or female, extroverted or introverted, a teacher or administrator, counselor or servant. When Paul described spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, he clarified that no one gift is greater than another; all serve to build up the body of Christ.
This is why we can’t use “spiritual leadership” as a pat label, nor as a descriptor for what we want in a spouse. Leadership is not about holding a mic or hosting a study; it’s a heart attitude of humility. It’s the willingness to go where God calls us, even if that call is unseen and uncelebrated. Our culture belittles that which is done in the background, and celebrates the spotlight instead. But some of the greatest spiritual leaders of the church weren’t noticed until after their deaths. Their works testify to the greatness of God and the boldness of faith.
This in mind, don’t overlook a great guy when he doesn’t lead the way you think he should. We are all called to be leaders in our communities—whether it’s with our families, in the workplace or from a national platform. Each of us will lead according to the equipment God has given us: our spiritual gifts and our personalities. Look for spiritual maturity and a humble heart; that’s where leadership potential is found.
God Himself leads us when we draw near to Him.
Dear girl, you don’t need a man to spiritually lead you; God leads us to Himself. No relationship can or should fill that role.
This doesn’t mean you should date anybody who calls himself a “Christian.” Nor am I saying that you should refuse godly advice from your husband in marriage. I’m saying there is a difference between spiritual codependence and a healthy Christian relationship. Choose the latter.
You, as a woman of God, should spend less time looking for a spiritual leader and more time becoming spiritually mature. Ground yourself in God’s Word. Draw near to Him. Let Him lead you, and you won’t need to find a man who loves Him—He will take care of that Himself.
Christian men and women are both called to lead others to Christ. When we embrace this truth, we learn that leadership is less about who’s doing what than how great is the grace of God. God’s requirements are clear for Christian relationships:
Be equally yoked.
Be equally passionate for Christ.
Be equally ambitious for His holiness.
Be equally ready to answer His call.