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Do Leaders Need To Be Holy?

from Chris Car:

Do leaders need to be holy? Your answer to this question is probably an automatic ‘Yes!” or perhaps ‘Of course!”

And yet of all the resources available on leadership today (there are currently almost 350,000 available at I do find the issue of personal holiness missing from most discussions on leadership, even among those who serve in ministry. There are plenty of books and articles about rules or laws of leadership, keys to leading an effective team, how to be not simply good but great, and how to use your gifts to their maximum potential. But there appears to be few people discussing the vital issue of personal holiness in the life of a leader.

How important is personal holiness in the life of a leader? Before I answer that with my thoughts on the matter, answer it for yourself – how important do you view your own holiness to your success as a leader?

My answer to this question is that personal holiness is the most important issue to leadership success. I realize that this is a fairly bold statement, so let me take a moment to back it up. My belief in the importance of personal holiness comes from the foundational truth that as believers our ultimate goal in life is to bring glory to Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 1:18). Flowing from that, our goal as leaders should be to lead in such a way that our followers are influenced to pursue Christ’s glory as well. Our ability to glorify Christ is in direct proportion to how holy we are becoming (2 Cor. 3:18).

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish pastor in the mid-19th century once stated, “my people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” I couldn’t agree more. Without personal holiness, a Christian leader has no foundation with which to lead.

You might not consider personal holiness to be a vital issue if you aren’t a pastor or a ministry leader. I would challenge you to reconsider. If you are a business owner and your employees (or customers) know you are a believer, you will be unable to lead them effectively if you aren’t living out what you claim to believe. If your integrity or morality is in question (which they likely will be if you aren’t pursuing holiness) you cannot be an effective leader.

So, how do we pursue holiness? 

First and foremost, we begin by focusing on Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as we look at Christ the Holy Spirit transforms us into His image, with ever-increasing glory. Something about simply focusing on Christ makes us more like him (1 John 3:2).

Second, we must be faithful in our study of the Word. In John 17:17, Jesus prays “Sanctify them by truth, thy word is truth.” We become holy as we get into the Word and the Word in turn gets into us.

Finally, we become more holy through prayer. As we pray and seek the Father’s face, He pours out the Spirit and draws us closer to him (Acts 4:31, Jude 20).

As God is holy, let’s continue to strive to be holy in all we do (1 Peter 1:15), setting an example for our people to follow.


Not only Holiness but the Spiritual life seems to be lacking in a lot of areas of Christian Leadership. Just pick up any church growth or any ministry leadership article / book and they will glad you walk you through a multi-step process. However, hearing from God is rarely one of them.

Ha, I was reading this thinking, "His answer to 'do leaders need to be holy' will determine if I ever visit this site again..." I will. ;-)

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