Transformational leadership refers to a process whereby the leader engages the followers in a manner that creates a moral connection between them and raises the motivation and the morality of both. Transformation leaders are those who help their corporate group move upward on the stages of moral development.

Transformational leaders raise the bar by appealing to higher ideals and values of followers. In doing so, they may model the values themselves and use charismatic methods to attract people to the values and to the leader. Burns' view is that transformational leadership is more effective than transactional leadership, where the appeal is to more selfish concerns. An appeal to social values thus encourages people to collaborate, rather than working as individuals (and potentially competitively with one another). He also views transformational leadership as an ongoing process rather than the discrete exchanges of the transactional approach.

Dr. Jackie David Johns, in his work on Pentecostal formational leadership, states that at first glance transformational leadership seems well suited to Pentecostalism. There is common terminology: “charismatic,” “transformation,” “vision,” etc. the case may be made that from its earliest Pentecostal history is replete with examples of transformational leaders, persons of vision who were willing to challenge the status quo and create form of the Church in mission. It seems only natural to wed the theory of transformational leadership with Pentecostal practice. Yet, there are issues and questions which Pentecostals must address if they are to be faithful to their heritage. How should the Church determine its missional vision? From whom does the vision come? How should it be authenticated?

I believe that there is no set pattern of leadership presented in the New Testament, but rather, there are principles that serve to guide the modern church in establishing godly and effective leadership led by the Holy Spirit as evidenced by corporate resolutions to competing visions. It was the Spirit who spoke the will of God and that to and through a discerning community.

A focus on the quality of the experience of followers as a mark of effective Christian leadership means that Christian leaders must be as much concerned with the well being of community (Body of Christ) as they are with the accomplishment of the organizational vision. Further, it is argued that the organizational vision must be understood and accepted by the community it serves, rather than being simply passed down from a leader. Where a community consensus exists as a result of the Spirit’s leading in the lives of leaders and followers. In addition, the work of team building is accomplished as a natural outgrowth of the collective agreement on the organization’s purpose and goals.

Formational leadership is also an expression of faith in God’s presence with His people. It believes the Holy Spirit is searching the deep things of the believer’s heart (1 Corinthians 2:6-13) and leading the followers of Christ into the realm of all truth (John 1:13). Furthermore, it believes God is at work in His people and that they are able to teach one another (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; Hebrews 10:19-25). Formational leadership believes Jesus is building His church out of living stones and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. Formational leadership places an emphasis on helping every member of the body of Christ find a place of service that is joined with others and to accept with those others full responsibility for their shared ministry. Those who serve together then bear primary responsibility for discovering the will of God for their shared mission.

Formational leadership begins with a call to share the pain of the hurting members of the community. It confronts the “felt needs” of persons as cries which must be heard and owned by all of the body of Christ. It avoids the easy path of testing the winds to identify the greatest common need and focuses on the desperate needs of the few. It is in their pain that the “real needs” of the community are most likely to surface. The human heart is transformed by God in response to faith and repentance, Formational leadership therefore requires a personal and corporate stance of repentance.  

Formational leadership also engages the dialectic tension which emerges from competing felt needs and visions. Persons are formed in the faith as they discover themselves in the weakness of others. It is the emptying of oneself in order to serve others that Christians come to have the mind of Christ whereby they know and do the will of God. (Philippians 2:1-13).

Thus the model for Christian leadership should be formational rather than transformational. A formational leader validates his or her leadership most clearly by the effect he or she has on the lives of those who follow, and especially, in the Pentecostal context, on the extent to which followers are Carter, Power and Authority enriched by a deep spiritual encounter with God that results in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in their lives.




Pastor Mark
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