A pastor told me that his church had outgrown their facility, so they were asking, "Will we add on to our facility, or will we start another church?"

But this was only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, larger questions lurked: Is our leadership structure solid enough for this situation? Or will we burn ourselves out if we add a building campaign and more people and activities to our current structure?

Sensing the weight he was carrying, I asked, "How are you going about answering these questions? Does your leadership team have a process for discerning God's will in these matters?"

Looking a bit disoriented, he shook his head. "But we always have a time of prayer at the beginning of our meetings," he said.

The heart of spiritual leadership

What is it that distinguishes spiritual leadership from other kinds of leadership?

At the heart of spiritual leadership is discernment—the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God both personally and in community.

The Israelite journey is really a story of ongoing discernment—learning to recognize the presence of God and then following that Presence wherever it went. For Moses as their leader, this involved entering into God's presence regularly, asking God what he should do, and then leading the people in that way. Moses' ability to trust God and listen and respond obediently to his instructions was so crucial to the Israelites' survival that the one time he failed to follow God's instruction fully, there were grave consequences (Num. 20:10-13).

It is no wonder that when Moses recapped the Israelite journey, he emphasized how important discernment had been to the whole operation. He reminded the people of the time God told them to choose ...

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