Spiritual Leaders and Vision


Bishop Schol writes that spiritual leaders help a congregation discern and attain a vision of their future.

Spiritual leaders are compelled by vision. Out of their love of Christ and their hope in God’s coming reign, they work to help a congregation discern a compelling vision for itself. Spiritual leaders help others to follow that vision. In leading toward a vision, spiritual leaders do three things:

Spiritual leaders honor the reality of the current situation.

They do this for the sake of the vision. Even while envisioning a preferable future, spiritual leaders care about those whom they serve. They respect people’s past experiences and support them through changes. By honoring where a congregation is and where it has been, they develop deep trust and stronger relationships.

Spiritual leaders disrupt around the vision.

They cast a bold vision that disrupts patterns that are not moving people and the church toward the vision. Disruption challenges people, the church, and the world to change their lives to become more like Christ. If there is no disruption, we remain within the status quo.

Spiritual leaders align everything with the vision.

Spiritual leaders use the vision to organize their own time, gifts and activities — and those of the congregation. Leaders often fall short because they cast a vision but never align all the resources (ministries, budgets, and people) with that vision.

This article is based on material first published in the Baltimore-Washington Conference’s UM Connection and on its website www.bwcumc.org.

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About Author

Photo of John Schol

John R. Schol is the Resident Bishop of the Greater New Jersey Area, which includes the Greater New Jersey Conference in the Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. He also serves as the Interim Bishop for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference - Philadelphia Episcopal Area. He was previously Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington, DC, Conference. While Director at the Office of Urban Ministries at the General Board of Global Ministries, he led the development of the Holy Boldness Urban Academy and the Communities of Shalom.

Howard Thurman D.Min.The Doctor of Ministry
Howard Thurman: Prophetic Witness

In a world that is all about drawing attention to one’s self, a prophetic witness moves us toward a new reality grounded in God’s grace.

What does it mean for a leader to stand in the gap between the way things are and what they could be? Howard Thurman’s prophetic witness exemplified this form of leadership. Thurman did not demonize those responsible for systemic ills. Instead, he emphasized a positive vision of the way things could be. This track of doctoral study from Wesley Theological Seminary focuses on the power of a prophetic witness like Thurman’s to draw people toward a positive new future. Learn more and apply today for May 2024.