Richard Blackaby Interview: The Meaning of Spiritual Leadership 


Dr. Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, Chairman, ELO interviewed Dr. Richard Blackaby, President, Blackaby Ministries International, on December 21, 2018.  Dr. Blackaby will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming ELO Forum in Winnipeg on April 30th (see his bio HERE)  Dr. Blackaby is the co-author (with his father, Henry) of three books that are particularly relevant to Christian marketplace leaders:  Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN:  B &  H Publishing Group, 2008); God in the Marketplace (Nashville, TN:  B & H Publishing Group, 2008); and Spiritual Leadership (Nashville, TN:  B & H  Publishing Group, 2011).  This is the fourth of a series of blog post related to Christian entrepreneurs applying their faith in the marketplace based on the interview with Dr. Blackaby. 

RG:       How do you define “spiritual leadership?”

RB:        My father and I wrote a book on that topic [Henry & Richard Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership.  Nashville, TN:  B & H Publishing Group, 2011].  Our definition is: ‘Spiritual leaders move people on to God’s agenda.’  I think every word in that definition is important. Spiritual leaders are led by the Spirit. The Spirit knows what God’s agenda is for your company, your family, and your church. The Spirit also knows the future, which gives you an enormous advantage over atheist leaders who have nothing but their best guess to go on!

Spiritual leaders also move people, not organizations. True leadership consists in more than developing a mission statement, constructing a new office building, or redesigning an organizational chart. Leadership is fundamentally a people business. Leaders forget that to their peril! Leaders move people from where they are to where God wants them to be. This means results. True spiritual leaders don’t just work hard or do their best. They leave places better than how they found them. People aren’t the same after the spiritual leader’s work is done.

Finally, spiritual leaders are not driven by their own agenda, but God’s. Every leader is driven by an agenda, whether it is their own, their investors’, their board of directors’, or their bosses’. A spiritual leader is driven by God’s agenda.

Of course, to know God’s agenda, you must know God, and be sensitive to His guidance. Spiritual leaders measure their success not by whether they achieved their goals, but whether they accomplished God’s will.


RG:       The key question, of course, is how do I know God’s agenda?

RB:        You have to know God.  You have to spend time with God, and you have to know what is on His heart and mind.  One of the key verses that is used by a major marketplace ministry I work with is 1 Samuel 2:35. In it, God says, ‘Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. . .” I think that’s still God’s desire – to raise up faithful priests or faithful servants who know what is on His heart and mind and are prepared to adjust their lives and businesses to it.  The only way to know what is on God’s heart and mind is to spend time with Him.

Of course, that’s what prayer does.  Prayer is not for us to tell God what’s on our hearts. It’s for us to be in conversation with Him so we learn what’s on His heart.  What God has to say to us is infinitely more important than what we have to say to Him! There are ways to clearly know God’s will if you will spend time with Him. He will impress things upon you. 

As you spend time with God, He’ll take what’s on His heart and He’ll lay it over your heart.  If before you go to work, you pray about your company, your staff, employees, clients, and customers, God will alert you to what matters in each of those arenas.  He can guide you to know where to invest your time and money so you’re aiming in the same direction He wants you to go.

I have had CEOs of major companies tell me that the time they spent with God each morning was the greatest time saver they had. For it aligned their life, focus, and schedule with what God knew were the most important issues of that day.