The Christian tradition offers significant influence on ethical leadership and the development of organizational members. Christian ethical leadership originates in the existence and activity of God who empowers men and women through the communication of his Word and his Spirit. A uniquely Christian ethical leadership implies a specific religious tradition which affirms the existence and activity of the Trinitarian God who reveals himself in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14, English Standard Version). The Genesis record provides the first evidence in Holy Scripture concerning the existence of God who creates and delegates to man leadership within creation (Genesis 1:1, 27-28). The Holy Scriptures provide sufficient evidence concerning the activity of God in terms of ethical leadership which is consistent with the nature and holiness of God. The Christian designation of ethical leadership originates from the existence and activity of God and culminates in the revelation of God in Christ as the superior ethical human. The Gospel of John reports Jesus Christ as the word and God who becomes flesh (John 1:14). Paul writes to the Colossian congregants Jesus Christ is the "image of the invisible God" and according to the Hebrew writer, Jesus stands as the brightness of God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, the Holy Scriptures affirm Jesus as the fullness, brightness, and fully embodiment of God's nature and holiness on earth as the superior ethical human.
Yukl (2013) states ethical leadership involves the values and behaviors of an individual which contributes to his or her leadership effectiveness. Yukl (2013) states the critical characteristic within ethics is integrity which "emphasizes honesty and consistency between a person's espoused values and behaviors" (p.342). The man or woman who possesses a strong self-identity behaves in a manner that corresponds to his or her internal values and nature (Yukl, 2013). Jesus Christ offers the purest example of an individual with strong self-identity who speaks and behaves in a manner equivalent to his nature and beliefs (John 8:35; Hebrews 4:15). Ethical leadership provides four categories of leadership; servant, authentic, transformational, and spiritual leadership (Yukl, 2013). Yukl (2013) describes spiritual leadership in terms of a person who influences a person or group to infuse transcendence and meaning into his or her vocation. According to Yukl (2013) a follower’s vocation represents a specific ordination which exceeds the common notion of profit margins, outputs, or statistics. Second, through the influence of spiritual leadership, followers develop a communal aspect within his or her vocation that reinforces the desire to belong and experience a corporate activity and identity (Yukl, 2013). Therefore, spiritual leadership under the larger umbrella of ethical leadership supports what Miller (2002) observes as the need to integrate faith and vocation from a Christian perspective. Miller (2002) states such an activity, "may be one of the most powerful means to help feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger" (p.153).
Christian ethical leadership possesses a foundation of holiness and the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Spiritual leadership influences organizational communication in the form of empowerment to stimulate the discernment of a higher calling in vocation and the development of community within an organization. Eisenberg, Goodall, and Trethewey (2009) state empowerment in the context of communication involves organizational leaders who create environments in which followers discern self-efficacy, understand the capability to execute his or her specific vocation, and the authority to execute his or her vocation because leaders remove limiting conditions. The New Testament record of Acts provides a case study on ethical leadership and empowerment between Jesus Christ and his followers. Jesus as the ethical leader demonstrates integrity in his speech and action concerning the arrival of the Holy Spirit who will empower the disciples in their witness vocation (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). The disciples demonstrate an understanding of their capability to execute their new vocation of witness in terms of preaching, miracles, and expansion of Gospel (Acts 3:12; 4:33; 6:4; 13:1-3). Finally, God removes the limiting conditions of ethnicity in order that the disciples would effectively execute their vocation (Acts 10).
What will this look like for members of your organization?
Eisenberg, E. M., & Goodall, Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2009). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.
Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A communication perspective (6th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland.
Miller, D. W. (2006). God at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement. Oxford: University Press.
Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in Organizations (8th ed.) Boston: Pearson.
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