14 Powerful Quotes on Spiritual Leadership

Selections from a must-read book

There is no shortage of new books to read, but we all have favorites that we have read multiple times.

One of the books that I’ve reread the most is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders.

While you may expect that this book would be focused solely on those interested in learning or sharpening leadership skills for their work or ministry roles, this book contains incredible insight that will benefit every Christian. In fact, the full title of the book captures this perfectly: Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer.

I have read and re-read this book several times and continue to find helpful passages. I’m not alone in this constant return to Sanders’ work.

John MacArthur has said:

“Spiritual Leadership should be the constant companion of every undershepherd in the Savior’s service. Most helpful is the fact that its emphasis is not on methods, but on character, passion, and godliness. I read it often to regrip the basic perspectives of my task, and have given it to the entire leadership team at our church.”

Here are several of my favorite quotes from Sanders’ book:

On Using Time Wisely

“Minutes and hours wisely used translate into an abundant life.”

“Leisure is a glorious opportunity and a subtle danger. Each moment of the day is a gift from God that deserves care, for by any measure, our time is short and the work is great.”

“Our problem is not too little time, but making better use of the time we have. Each of us has as much time as anyone else.”

“We are not responsible for our endowments or natural abilities, but we are responsible for the strategic use of time.”

These lines were found engraved on a sundial:

The shadow of my finger cast
Divides the future from the past:
Before it stands the unborn hour
In darkness and beyond thy power;

Behind its unreturning line
The vanished hour, no longer thine;
One hour alone is in thy hands,
The now on which the shadow stands.


On Reading

“A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes of hasty reading.”

Quoting A.W. Tozer: “One reason why people are unable to understand great Christian classics is that they are trying to understand without any intention of obeying them.”

“If a man is known by the company he keeps, so also his character is reflected in the books he reads.”

On Ministry

“Jesus is the chief shepherd; we are assistants and associates working under His authority.”

“The spiritual leader will choose the hidden path of sacrificial service and approval of the Lord over the flamboyant self-advertising of the world.”

“The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.”

On Character

“Pride takes many forms, but spiritual pride is the most grievous. To become proud of spiritual gifts or leadership position is to forget that all we have is from God, all the position we occupy is God’s appointment.”

“If a Christian is not willing to rise early and work late, to expend greater effort in diligent study and faithful work, that person will not change a generation. Fatigue is the price of leadership. Mediocrity is the result of never getting tired.”

Quoting an unknown poet:

The heights of great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight;
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

Spiritual Leadership is filled with principles for developing Christian character and I urge you to add it to your bookshelf.

What book have you found yourself returning to again and again?

Spiritual Leadership has a spot on The Five-Foot Bookshelf: 57 Great Books Every Christian Should Own. Check out the entire list of must-own books that all fit on a single shelf below!

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