Spiritual Leadership

What Is Spiritual Leadership?

Spiritual Leadership is an orientation, a way of living and being in the world. It is living our deepest values guided by connection. It is doing what is ours to do, giving our unique gifts to the world. It is living in our dignity and integrity, despite the things in the world that would rob us of power or dignity or worth. It is a willingness to depend on something larger than ourselves and to be in community.

Everyone has, and can further develop, the capacity for Spiritual Leadership. You don’t have to be a “leader” to practice it. Everyone of any rank, role, age, gender/sex, race, constellation of abilities and limitations can practice Spiritual Leadership. No one has to authorize you to exercise your it; it is your birthright as a human being.

Spiritual Leadership is something we develop and deepen through practice. Spiritual Leadership is about navigating between our power and our powerlessness. Especially clear right now as we write this in 2020 is how little we have power or control over. Our Spiritual Leadership is about exercising the power that we do have to create a more just and beautiful world, even as we release our compulsion to try to control what is not in our hands. It is on us, therefore, to pay attention to where we have power — inner power, interpersonal power, institutional power, social power, spiritual power — and where we are powerless.

Spiritual Leadership can be - and is - practiced everywhere, but congregations have a special relationship to Spiritual Leadership. We believe that the purpose of congregations is to equip everyonein the congregation to live into their spiritual leadership. Spiritual Leadership is something we do together in community. It’s in and through community that our gifts are offered and received in service of building a better world. None of that is work we can do on our own. Congregations are a special kind of community where Spiritual Leadership can be developed and practiced.

More on Spiritual Leadership in Congregations

Our understanding and framing of Spiritual Leadership and its practices continues to unfold as we work with you to embed the practices in our congregations. The sections below offer descriptions of each of the five practices of Spiritual Leadership, point you to our online course about Spiritual Leadership for congregational teams, and introduce you to a program in which to explore Spiritual Leadership through Small Group Ministry.

Centering in gifts is a vital practice for human well being and wholeness, for individuals and communities. Our gifts are not for us — they are meant to build, maintain, and restore the community.

Centering in Gifts

When we choose Unitarian Universalism as our religion, we claim and are claimed by the tradition. In claiming Unitarian Universalism as a religion, we are accepting the responsibility to tend our tradition, bringing seeds of nourishment to harvest and weeding out what is harmful.

Tending Our Tradition

Covenanting is a practice, not a product. There are ways of practicing covenant that are multidimensional and liberating, and which help us learn skills needed to contribute to liberation in the world.


Spiritual Leadership calls us to risk stretching beyond where we are comfortable, beyond what we think we are capable of in the name of Love and Justice.

Faithful Risking