Fry’s Spiritual Leadership Model*

How can one teach spiritual leadership in a communal culture? Many current models for servant leadership are rather individualistic in their descriptions, focusing specifically on the necessary traits, skills, or duties of the leader. One model that I believe emphasizes community well is Fry’s Model of Spiritual Leadership. The basic premise in Fry’s model is that everyone in the organization is a part of all the parts of the model.

Although developed for secular businesses, on reading Fry’s explanation, one would almost feel like many definitions came from the Bible, rather than the research studies he cites. The model, in fact, is very basic, but I think that is part of its ease in helping a spiritual team work together. After interviewing some pastors in Mozambique for a course, I adapted Fry’s model to the Mozambican context, per the figure below, by simply adding the heart and cross to the Inner Life concept to avoid the implication that the church promotes any kind of spirituality. I also adjusted the organizational outcomes from business wording to the words highlighted by the Mozambican pastors I interviewed.

Here is a brief explanation of the model. The foundational section for the organization is encouraging each person’s inner spiritual life, i.e. salvation, sanctification, etc. for our perspective. Inner life includes spiritual practices like prayer, church attendance, and so on. These foundations produce faith, hope, love, and vision (for the future). The arrows show how the different facets interact.

The middle section indicates how people experience greater spiritual well-being in an organization when each one sincerely lives out their faith through the attributes listed in the first section, and the resulting vision leads members to feel they are accomplishing their purpose and/or fulfilling their perceived personal calling. Spiritual well-being is also experienced when the members show and experience love, thus feeling membership/community.

As each one in the organization lives out and experiences these concepts in community, healthy churches are produced with the outcomes that were desired in the vision, such as commitment to Christ, peace, growth, and community engagement. So, where does the leader of an organization fit in this model?

There is no focused attention on the leader in this model. Fry explains that the leader models the same spiritual attributes as everyone else. A leader also helps guide the organization’s vision and helps create self-directed teams which are intrinsically motivated to embody the organization’s spiritual values. Being in teams, members will develop leadership skills as well as strengthening their own personal and organizational expression of the attributes in the model. I am going to start using this model in training sessions in Mozambique to help give a clear picture of how a church can support each other. What leadership model works well in your cultural setting?

*Details on Spiritual Leadership Theory were taken from Fry’s 2003 article, “Toward a Theory of Spiritual Leadership” where he explains each part in detail and from his 2021 article, “What is Spiritual Leadership?”

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