Dr. Corné Bekker is an associate professor in the Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship and an ordained minister. He previously served as the Assistant-Dean of Rhema Bible College in Johannesburg , South Africa.
How are Christian leaders formed? Is leadership formation different than spiritual formation for Christian Leaders?
The quest for spiritual formation falls within the theological field of spirituality. The Oxford Dictionary defines spirituality as the quality or condition of being spiritual. In turn it defines spiritual as being devout, holy, pious, and morally good. Leaders that are spiritually formed are marked by their commitment to act and lead in moral and holy ways. They lead like Jesus. What does this process of formation looks like?
The theologian and author, Kenneth Leech defines Christian spirituality as being primarily about a process of formation and a commitment to radical and personal transformation. Christian leaders are formed by, and in, Christ. This formational process is a form of Christening, being clothed with Christ, and so being transformed into that same image. This simple description of Christian spirituality and formation seems to conform to Paul’s understanding of the process of change when he writes in his letter to the Roman church (8:29, NKJV); where he clearly links the concepts of destiny, purpose and spiritual formation:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that they might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
In simplified language, to be formed as a Christian - in this context, being formed as a Christian leader - is to be formed into the image of Jesus. It is interesting to note that Paul consistently makes use of the Greek word “ikon” (icon) in this verse and others to describe the image we are suppose to be transformed into. The Greek word “ikon” in this context, does not mean static picture or painting, but rather window. For Paul this formed image is not an end in itself, but rather a window to a larger and greater reality. Christian leaders are formed to become clear images or windows of a larger reality - the transforming reality of Jesus Christ Himself.
How then are Christian leaders formed? Once again the writings of the Apostle Paul points the way to the process that God makes use of to transform His followers into leaders in His own image. One example of a description of this process of formation is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church (3:18, NKJV): “And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord as within a mirror are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
There seems to emerge three elements in Paul’s description of the process of Christian and leader formation:
- We must accept our contexts (“…and we all…”): This section of the verse describes the value/act of giving consent to where God puts us; it reveals a sensitivity to our own personal contexts. This also refers to the willingness to accept the calling/vocation that our situations bring to us. Christian leaders say yes to God’s will for them.
- We must adopt the discipline of voluntary honesty (“…with unveiled face…”): A simple socio-cultural reading of this verse links Paul’s use of Old Testament thoughts with the Greek use of masks in their comedy and tragic plays in Hellenistic Corinth. Christian leaders take off the figurative mask and reveal their authentic selves to their followers and others.
- We must focus on Christ (…beholding as within a mirror the glory of the Lord…): Christian leaders desire to imitate the attitude and leadership stance of Jesus. The mimetic focus of Christian leaders on Christ determines their approach, style and measurement of leadership.
It seems to me that when these three Biblical elements work together that both Christian spiritual and leadership formation takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christian leaders who adopt these disciplines become Iconic leaders that are clear windows through which Christ Himself can shine.
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Dr. Corné Bekker joined Regent University in 2005. He previously served as the associate dean for academics of Rhema Bible College in Johannesburg, South Africa and now as an associate professor for the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship. Dr. Bekker teaches in the doctoral programs of the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship and is actively involved in research on the use of biblical hermeneutics and spirituality to explore leadership. He is the editor of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) and the co-editor of Inner Resources for Leaders (IRL).
Dr. Bekker is an ordained minister and has traveled in Africa, Europe, the East and North America to present at churches, ministries, seminars and academic conferences on the subject of Christian spirituality and leadership formation.
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