In Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, and elsewhere, Paul teaches that God has given different types of gifts to Christians. While there is unity in the body of Christ, there definitely is not uniformity. Instead, the diversity that Scripture celebrates in God's whole creation is also reflected in the gifts of Christians.
Four years ago, I was flying from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. I had been using a three-legged leadership model (spirituality, chemistry, and strategy) as a teaching instrument for two or three years. As I settled into my seat, a thought came into my mind. If there are only three legs, there can only be six possible sequences of the combination of spirituality, chemistry, and strategy in leaders. I wondered to myself, Can I name those six? Will people lead in a manner similar to others with their style? By the time the plane landed, I had named the six styles and was eager to find out whether each group was distinct from the other five in its leadership style.
The Leadership Stool model (a stool with three legs representing spirituality, chemistry, and strategy) identifies six distinct Christian leadership styles. We give leaders an assessment which identifies their scores in these three areas. The sequence of the scores of your strongest, intermediate, and weakest legs indicates which leadership style God has given you. Leaders who are strongest in chemistry are either inspirational leaders or relational leaders. Leaders who are strongest in spirituality are either imaginative leaders or sacred leaders. Leaders who are strongest in strategy are either building leaders or mission leaders.
All six styles have equal value in the body of Christ. Each style brings together a unique set of leadership gifs and perspectives that help build God's kingdom, with each style contributing something that the other five do not. When all six styles work together, they demonstrate the completeness and unity of the body of Christ while affirming the variety of personalities and gifts given by the Holy Spirit. Most important, each of the six styles employs a different way of leading.
The Six Leadership Styles
Growing in your leadership style requires an understanding of the role of your strongest leg, of how the intermediate leg can magnify the fruit of your strongest leg, and of specific ways to bolster your weakest leg. The results and fruit of your ministry will differ significantly from someone with a different leadership style. When you read about your style, you may be surprised at how accurately it describes you. As you learn about your unique style, you will gain insight into how God created you, showing you a clear pathway to become a stronger and wiser leader. As you read about the other five styles, the descriptions will give you insights into how God created others you know and work with and why they lead as they do.
Sacred leaders are strongest in spirituality, intermediate in chemistry, and weakest in strategy. They are gifted by God to connect spirituality with people and encourage them to grow deeper in their knowledge and relationship with God, while paying close attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sacred leaders are spiritually sensitive people. An adjective often used to describe the role of a sacred leader is deep. They lead through their ability to genuinely connect with people by communicating the deep things of God. Many sacred leaders have the Ephesians 4:11 gift of teacher. Mary (the sister of Martha), John, and Isaiah are three biblical examples of sacred leaders.