“This is a football.” With these words Vince Lombardi started the 1961 training camp of the Green Bay Packers. He built a tradition at starting at the beginning, teaching the fundamentals and taking nothing for granted.

I am following his lead in this blog. I think it might be useful to start at the beginning and go over the fundamentals of spiritual leadership.


To me these 5 thoughts form the “this is a football” fundamentals of spiritual leadership. I hope you find them a useful reminder.

1. God works on earth through spiritual leaders.

God works on earth through spiritual leaders.

The pattern of Scripture demonstrated this. When God wants to do something, He raises up a leader to do it.

  • When God wants to initiate redemption…He raises up Abraham.
  • When God wants to move Israel to Egypt…He raises up Joseph.
  • When God wants to rescue Israel from slavery and move them back to the Promised Land…He raises up Moses and then Joshua.
  • When God wants to establish Israel as a kingdom…He raises up King David.
  • When God wants to speak to drifting Israel…He raises up the prophets.
  • When God wants to take the gospel to the ends of the earth…He raises up the Apostles.
  • When God wants to establish the church to the gentiles…He raises up the Apostle Paul.

Rarely does God operate outside of a spiritual leader. This is why we at 12Stone give so much energy to leadership development. We believe leadership is not about leadership…it is about kingdom advancement. We believe that when we grow as leaders or help someone else grow as a leader…the result is New Territory for the Kingdom.

Let’s make it personal. I believe you and I ought to be in an all out quest to develop ourselves as leaders…not because leadership has any value in and of itself…but I believe as we grow as leaders we become capable of being used by God in greater ways.

2. God works IN spiritual leaders before He works THROUGH them.

God works IN spiritual leaders before He works THROUGH Them.
  • Before Moses was raises staffs…he was tending sheep in the desert.
  • Before Joshua was conquering the Promised Land…He could be found in the tent of meetings.

Same is true for Joseph, David and the rest. Same is true for you. Before God works through you…He works in you. Spiritual leaders are born in private moments bowing before God…being formed and forged by Him.

Many of us are stalled in our spiritual leadership because we are privately resisting God’s work in our lives…privately disobedient, drifting or distracted. We can even find ourselves frustrated with how God seems to be resisting our outer leadership…not realizing that our own resistance of Him is the cause. Very often we believe we are waiting for God to move…but really God is waiting for us to move.

If you let Him do a greater work IN you…you open yourself up for Him to do a Greater work THROUGH you. So keep fighting the inner battle for full surrender to Him…it will pay off in Kingdom advancement.

3. Spiritual leadership is spiritual.

Spiritual leadership is spiritual. 

Don’t skip over this as fast as you it seems you could. This, believe it or not, is a necessary fundamental that we can easily get mixed up in. Spiritual leadership and leadership are not the same thing…and we often treat it like it is. But in the same way that Spiritual gifts are not the same thing as talents…and the Fruit of the Spirit is not the same thing as character…so spiritual leadership is not the same thing as leadership.

What makes spiritual leadership spiritual is not that it is done in a ministry or in the name of Jesus. It is not the intent…it is the source. Spiritual leadership finds its source and sustenance in the Spirit. “There was a man sent from God…his name was John.”

4. Spiritual leadership is leadership.

Spiritual leadership is leadership.

This seems to be in contrast to the previous point…but the two compliment each other. There are plenty of deeply spiritual people who lack the leadership thinking and skills necessary to move God’s people toward a His vision for them. The skills of leadership are the same both inside and outside of the Kingdom…Organization leadership, stewardship of resources, relational leadership, vision casting, time management….leadership is leadership.

Now…you likely lean one way or the other when it comes to the last two points. Spiritual leaders lean into both. The goal is not balance…it is to aggressively chase each at the same time… Yes…you should be chasing the Spirit of God but at the same time growing in people skills will unlock new kingdom impact opportunities.

5. The proof of spiritual leadership is Kingdom advancement.

The proof of spiritual leadership is Kingdom advancement. 

All spiritual leaders have an itch that is only scratched when God moves. This is one of the defining characteristics of spiritual leadership. It is not enough that the worship team hit every note or the sermon was doctrinally sound…which are good things…but they don’t satisfy the itch. Spiritual leaders are not satisfied with human results…they want to see a supernatural move of the Spirit.

So there they are…the five “This is a football” fundamental of spiritual leadership. Let me know what you think. What did I miss? What else would you add?