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Your Spiritual Leadership Profile: What Box Are You In?

March 5, 2010

I have a little experiment for you.  

As some of you know, I spent many years in management consulting prior to landing my current gig as a Senior Vice President in a Very Nice Company. That consulting experience drilled certain propensities into my brain for processes, charts, and matrixes. I love a good flow chart.

So naturally, when thinking about solutions to help people connect business to spiritual life, I often approach matters in this way, looking for patterns or principles that can boil down complex ideas into simple roadmaps to help us move from A to B.  

Not that you can put God into a box.  

But, here is a little matrix I came up with that I am thinking of using at the Princeton Leadership and Spirituality seminar next month (April 11 and 12, by the way).  

A Spiritual Leadership Matrix

The idea is to provide a tool to help participants gauge where they are on their leadership-spirituality journey, as a starting point to think about where and how they need to grow.  

But here’s where you come in.  

For all I know, this matrix could be the most lame and useless concept ever to grace my blog. I’d like your feedback. Can you try it out, and tell me what you think?  

Here’s what you do.  

Rank yourself on a low-to-high scale on two different levels.  

The first, on the Y-axis, is to answer the question,  

“To what extent do you feel safe, secure, and loved by God?”

  In other words, do you really trust that God is in control of your circumstances at work?  

  • Do you believe that God will take care of you, regardless of your situation?
  • Do you believe that God can help you find the pathways you need to take?
  • Do you believe he is involved in your life at all?

It’s one thing to say, but quite another to actually believe in your heart of hearts. Rank yourself low to high, depending on how you would answer that question.  

The second question on the X-axis is,  

To what extent do you believe you are expressing God’s purpose in your work?”  

Do you believe that what you do each day is an expression of God working through you?  

  • Do you believe your daily tasks and activities are a means of expressing God’s spirit in your workplace?
  • Do you think that God can work through you to influence and others towards His greater good?
  • Do you believe that you are making a difference in the lives of others, whether employees, co-workers, customers, suppliers or shareholders?

Rank yourself low to high, depending on how you would respond to that question.  

Now. Where do you find yourself on the matrix?  

 The Four Quadrants

1. Spiritual Arrogance

The leader who ranks high on Experiencing God’s love, but low on expressing God’s love is caught up in his own spiritual life, but not aware of how it might influence others. The result is a Pious or spiritually Self-indulgent behavior which most likely leads to isolation and lack of connection to others in the workplace

 2. Burnout and Depression

The most miserable place to be would be the low-ranking box for both the X and Y axis. Here is one who does not experience God’s love, and who also does not express God’s love at work. Bad situation. Typically, this would be the person who feels burnt-out and depressed. Or perhaps it is expressed as an apathetic and empty outlook with very little sense of purpose or direction for life.

 3. Anxious and Insecure

The flip side of this is when one is trying to express God’s love at work, but is having trouble drawing from the security and safety of God’s love. In this case, you are busy trying to do the right thing, but constantly worried about it. You are in a state of uncertainty and anxiety, lacking confidence because you are not grounded in an ability to trust God for the outcome of your work.

 4. Authentic and Influential

The ideal is obviously to be in the top-right side of the box, where you experience God’s love and you are also expressing God’s love at work. This would be the basis for an authentic, influential leader, marked with a calm, confident and connected attitude towards work.

Depending on where you land, the opportunity is for each of us to move towards the top right box by practicing spiritual disciplines, getting involved in a caring community, finding mentors, and using practical tools to become calm, confident and connected leaders at work.

 This is very much of a draft, but I wanted to put it out there to get some critical feedback. Go ahead, tear it apart. Tell me what you think.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew Turner permalink
    March 5, 2010 12:33 pm

    I’m not much for charts re: human behavior, but the way that you’ve nailed down the four aspects of spiritual vitality is very interesting because it is right on the nose.

    Might there be a didactic breakdown of the four boxes in the offing?

    I would be interested in exploring the faith issues that underpin the causes.


    • March 6, 2010 8:10 am

      Thanks Andrew. Now that I looked up what ‘didactic’ means, the answer is YES. This was an initial framework that I thought perhaps a series of instructional tools and content could help lead a participant from whatever box they find themselves in, towards the top right hand side.

      Working on it. And will ask for your feedback all along the way!

  2. March 5, 2010 12:56 pm

    I’m all over this! I want to see those three questions for each broken down further into questions that will help me assess whether I trust God or not.

    As for me personally, I’m somewhere between three and four. I struggle to feel safe and secure in God’s love. I’ve no doubt that he knows me completely, but I’m afraid that means he probably doesn’t like me much. This is a hangup, I realize.

    • Andrew Turner permalink
      March 5, 2010 1:02 pm

      Yeah I have to agree with Marcus. I suppose I find that the shift between four and three largely predicates on my choosing to believe or disbelieve, and particularly, grumble. As soon as I begin to grumble, it’s as though it closes the door to working faith. God is no farther away then before, but my eyes are closed to him; it’s as though it then completely closes the door on any perception of living grace.


    • March 6, 2010 8:14 am

      You got it Marcus. The drill-down is coming.

      Your hangup is not unfamiliar.

  3. March 5, 2010 4:15 pm

    Wow am I challenged here, Bradley. There’s a dynamic here that I’m not quite sure how to plug in, and that’s how others respond to my expression of God’s love.

    I understand that others’ response is not the measure of who I am in God. But I’m human. My relationship with God is played out in the lives of others, and their response is some measure of my leadership.

    I can honestly assess myself as very high on my experiencing God’s love. As objective as it’s possible to be, I think I’m fairly high on expressing it, and doing it pretty well. Nonetheless, if the response of those with whom I have key relationships is negative, it seems to undermine my sense of being calm, connected, and confident.

    I’ll be thinking on this and watching the dialogue.

    • March 6, 2010 8:19 am

      Anne – This is an interesting nuance here. I believe the response we get from others is a direct indicator of our “Self” vs. “Others” focus of spirituality. I know too many people who think they are so right with God, and end up alienating people because their behavior comes across as self-righteous and exclusive. I do believe this box can be self-deluding, because no one wants to really think that their behavior is negative – especially when it is cloaked in a spiritual tone.

      Great feedback, Anne. Thanks for being so thoughtful on this.

  4. March 5, 2010 4:48 pm

    It looks like a good model to me, Bradley. Personally I’ve probably spent most of my faith walk in boxes two and three. Fortunately for me God has really found ways to help me understand where I stand with him (and what being loved by him really means) in the last couple of months. So now I find myself moving towards box number 4.

    • March 6, 2010 8:20 am

      Excellent. Would like to hear what you utlimately found so helpful in understanding God’s love for you.

  5. March 5, 2010 7:09 pm

    i am not sure that this really helps to think with this box. it seems to me to put people too much into one box or another. i feel that people are not in just one of these boxes, but, that they constantly move around these areas. so it can not really be pinpointed. forcing a preson to be put into one area alone will not give them a true picture of themselves. this can cause them to focus on the problem and self more than necessary. i would like to see a way to make the point of the direction and focus with a more open and true placement of where they are now.

    maybe there is another kind of chart that better shows them in the journey, without being put into one box.

    • March 6, 2010 8:23 am

      Excellent point, Nancy. I agree that we constantly are moving around in our station with God, depending on many factors. But this tool can still be used as a discussion point for asessing one’s spiritual life maybe in a way they hadn’t considered before. That’s the idea.

      I think you have an important point of not assuming that people are locked into one box or another, and that it is more of a journey. I think that word becomes a critical part of the discussion.

  6. March 5, 2010 7:30 pm

    I’d likely place myself in Box 4, close to the line separating 4 from 3, but pretty far over to the right. I think this could be a useful tool, but it’s almsot as if I wanted to have specific questions to answer (with points or something) that would then tell me where I landed — sort of like Meyers-Briggs, I guess. I don’t know if I trust myself enough not to fudge it in a more positive direction.

    • March 6, 2010 8:25 am

      Glynn – That’s exactly what I want to do next with this, is to map out a number of questions that might generate a score to direct you, rather than a self-asessment.

      Great idea. Are you sure you weren’t a management consultant before?

      • March 6, 2010 10:32 am

        Did I just get accused of being a consultant? ARRGGHHH! Actually, I was an “outside” communications consultant for three years. 🙂

  7. March 6, 2010 11:37 am

    i often find that the struggle in my life is getting my focus off of my own assumptions and understanding of myself and my place and purpose, and keeping them on Jesus/the Holy Spirit to guide my heart in these matters, which God has been doing.

    i think that is where i was coming from, in going over your plans and chart. i was having a really hard time with seeing past my own struggle, while keeping an open mind to yours.

    i find myself thinking that i have the answer for others, in my own relationship with God. when all along the answer might be Jesus and each person’s own relationship with God in the Spirit. if each of us is having a relationship with the Son of God and so the Father…through the Holy Spirit, that is the very base truth to our walk or journey through this life. How that plays out, with all of us that belong to God, is such a mystery to me, that i just sit back in amazment at the thought. i am left in awe.

    kind of like when we do the poetry jam. the thoughts that go through minds, ideas that come through each person’s heart and mind and experiences – good and bad, and how they play out and interact with those of others. interaction, reaction, woven together…it is kind of an illustration of work that is going on within each of our hearts that joins together as one.

    i don’t have a word for this, but it reminds me of the body of Christ and the invisible work of the HOly Spirit within each believer.

    i guess what i am saying, is that i am not sure that what i have to bring belongs here.

    Love to you.

    • March 8, 2010 6:12 am

      Sure you belong here! Your thoughts here sound like the dynamic, iterative growth process that happens when we interact with others. Things change when you are sharing, and in relationship. The feedback does something for you, and it shapes and moves your own place. This is why community and talking about our own stories are so important. Once again, I’ll say that this framework here gives people a chance to share their own stories by identifying where they are at the moment, and why. That’s what we will use it for – a place to start telling your story. We’ll see how it goes!

      • March 8, 2010 11:01 am

        Well said. Relating. I have thought about it before. Yet, as i stop now to really think about its depth and width and height, I am left speechless.

  8. March 6, 2010 12:58 pm


    I’d add highly motived to quadrant 4. Perhaps vision driven? What do you think?

    Leadership Freak
    Dan Rockwell

    • March 7, 2010 8:14 am

      I agree highly-motivated would be a characteristic of #4 – But in a way that is more “flow” than being forced through. I think #1 could be highly motivated also, just not effective at the results. #3 can be highly motivated, but overly concerned with the results and what everyone thinks.

      Vision-driven I want to be careful with, because it is so over-used. I think that 3 out of 4 boxes (1,3&4) could be Vision-driven, but with different nuances regarding the quality of execution.

      Great thoughts! I enjoy your suggestions – this helps a lot.

  9. March 6, 2010 10:48 pm

    I too am somewhere between three and four, I think (would anyone ever say they were in quad. 1?) I like your plans to flesh out the questions better, make it less subjective. But I think it’s a great tool for self-evaluation, Bradley!

    • March 7, 2010 8:16 am

      Good point about Quad 1 – This is why it is a good idea to do some kind of question/survey to score results – making a more objective assessment. That will be next!

  10. donkimrey permalink
    March 7, 2010 9:12 pm

    Excellent points to ponder. I feel pretty sure you’ve ‘taken this test’ and ‘graded’ yourself.
    I have a really rough time trying to objectively critique any thing I am or have done. Whether it has to do with writing, thinking,painting, or whatever. The practical and most important answer in my thinking is what others think of me and my efforts. Do I dare past my ‘test’ paper to the guy who sits next to me in class and let him check my answers or give his/her assessment? As much as he has delighted me, Robbie Burns’ lines in “To a Louse” cause me to pause and ponder: “O wad some pow’r the giftie gie us To see irselves as ithers see us!” Good luck.
    Keep up your good work! donkirmey

  11. March 8, 2010 10:24 am

    Hey Brad, what a great oppty to challenge the people attending the Princeton Leadership Seminar.

    I think having a matrix is great way to kick off discussion & rattle some cages 🙂 LOL.

    My two cents about the quadrants: I think #1 & #3 are the same person, just expressed in a different outlet.

    Go, ShrinkingCamel!

  12. March 9, 2010 9:15 am

    Nice, Brad, to visualize experiencing and expressing God’s Live as a measure of spiritual leadership!

    I personally feel I’m in the lower parts of Quad 4. The one thing that really helped/helps me experience God’s Love is knowing my identity in Christ.

    PS. Can I use it in my trainings too, once the model is more validated? 🙂

    • March 9, 2010 7:01 pm

      Absolutey, you can use it! I will notify everyone through the blog when I have a more developed version of this, which might include the quiz-scoring aspect of it as well. I’ll keep you posted! (literally!)

  13. Brenda permalink
    March 16, 2010 2:25 pm

    I dislike models – particularly models that (1) pigeon hole people into 4 groups much less models that (1) a five year old could figure out how to manipulate and (2)anyone in their right mind would want to manipulate given the 1 “acceptable” category and the 3 “unacceptable” categories. Arrogant, Anxious, Burn-Out?? Heck, the vast majority of the population is going to fall into one of these three categories! Do you really feel comfortable describing their spiritual leadership connection in a manner that suggests at a minimum the need for a psychiatric consultation? If I had developed this, I would put myself in the upper left quadrant.

    • March 16, 2010 3:07 pm

      For those of us who are visual learners, models like this are very helpful to conceptualize abstracts. As with any tool, such models can become a substitute for the humble introspection and external examination necessary to growth and effective leadership.

    • March 17, 2010 5:01 am

      All right, all right Brenda, calm down. Sheesh! I was just throwing out an idea! So you think it sucks. Fine.

      But really,I thought of this just as a discussion tool, not a personality test. You (and Nancy) are absolutely right that no one can be limited to the point of being placed in a quadrant, and that’s that.

      But what if this was something that could be used to open up dialogue and build community? What kind of conversations might this generate if you were to sit down with your colleagues at work or in a seminar and ask each other to share what their own perspective is of (1) How they experience God’s love in their day-to-day identity, and (2) Do they really believe God is working through them in the stuff they are doing at work. I don’t know about you, but most people I work with (Christians and otherwise)NEVER think of these kinds of connections to their jobs. So, that’s my position with this matrix – it’s a conversation starter.

      Okay, so maybe the conversation would end real quick if someone hates being asked these kinds of questions.

  14. Glenn Ball permalink
    March 16, 2010 3:06 pm

    Awesome Stuff, I am a regional staff person and have to deal with a lot of clergy in areas 2 & 3 and the ocassional four Your questions are simple and straight to the heart of the matter in helping to assess who is where and now if we can only get them where they need to be. Blessings

  15. March 16, 2010 4:48 pm

    i like brenda 🙂

  16. drams permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:30 pm

    Hmm, just read Becky Garrison’s article about Mother Teresa and somehow don’t think she would be in the upper right quadrant. Her message was right on though, the work is God’s not ours, no matter what our state of mind.

    • March 17, 2010 5:05 am

      Yes, Mother Theresa was burnt out and feeling spiritually isolated most of the time. But if we were to sit down with MT and go over this chart, at least she would finally be able to talk about it! Poor thing.

      You bring up an excellent and profound point, that God’s work should go forward no matter what our mindset. However, the reality is that hardly anyone follows through on that. WHen people do not feel their work aligned to their spiritual sense of being, they usually either change jobs, or are miserable.

      That’s why Mother Theresa is a saint.

  17. Pat permalink
    March 17, 2010 3:31 pm

    I thought the excercise was interesting and it did make me think through what I really believe in relationship with what I do. One thought I had was evaluating or accessing what I believe when I am asked to learn something new or be stretched in my work environment or the same in my faith. I have had to move often in our lifestyle(military) and as a result I have had to constantly readjust, redefine and /or requalify for a work opportunity. I think it would be very beneficial to discuss what the process looks like to move from a negative toward a positive and to embrace the “tool” aspect so that I don’t fall into self condemnation or feelings of worthlessness.

    • March 18, 2010 5:08 am

      You hit on the ideal purpose for this matrix, which would be as part of a larger model that includes tools, resources, etc. to help “move” an individual through the process of growth, from negative toward a positive. It’s one thing to identify your situation, and another to address it proactively to pursue spiritual growth.

      Great observation.

  18. Elaine permalink
    March 18, 2010 4:47 am

    I think it’s important for readers/leaders to realise that there isn’t only one box/quadrant to which everyone should aspire, that translates to success. If you read Mother Theresa’s latest book, you will see that she was squarely (pardon the pun) in quadrant 3 for many, many years and yet she can scarcely be considered a leadership failure.

    Instead, she took the startling perspective that she was sharing in Christ’s suffering, possibly the most honourable one that a follower can take. There is the dark night which tests us, like Job. This is where saints are made, e.g. St Paul. Let us remember how Christ and the apostle Paul spoke often of suffering for the faith. And so it is when we are weak that our Lord is strong

    It’s a useful matrix for self-examination, esp since most leaders/ Christians probably cycle through all quadrants during their spiritual walk.

  19. March 18, 2010 4:15 pm

    Great chart! – I printed it out and will do a self-assessment in the next weeks. I think I’m a quad 3 at work but possibly a quad 1 at church. One can argue that if one experiences God’s love, expression ought to flow naturally, but the power of this chart is its simplicity.

  20. Tony DeGruy permalink
    March 23, 2010 2:27 pm

    I shared this with a trusted colleague as we were considering using this as part of an upcoming meeting. This is her feedback and I thought the readers of this blog would benefit from it.

    “This is a very interesting tool —

    From a tool effectiveness feedback perspective – I do have a few thoughts–

    First, it may be helpful to label the x and y axis. While it is common in the graphing world, I found that I had to take a minute to remember which was which.

    Second, I think it would be most helpful to have the grid without the quadrant terms for the first pass. Since at least two out of the four, and possibly three out of the four could be construed as undesirable — I think it is human nature to be influenced by where we want to believe we belong – as honest as we may want to be. I think there would be a clearer picture if we were able to plot our graph points first and then reflect on the implications based on the quadrant terms as we learn them second.

    Third, I’m thinking it might be helpful to have a few more questions as part of the x and y axis big questions. If there were 5, for example, and each question could have a value of 2 points, then the point could be plotted based on a total scale of 1 – 10. This may encourage more reflection and more authentic point plotting.

    The tough part is the questions themselves, which may be why he had the two big ones and then examples of what they mean. As the author indicated, it is one thing to say what you believe, but quite another to believe in you heart. We are so quick to say what we believe is the Christian answer to things. For reflections such as these, it’s good to be challenged not to answer with the first thought that comes to mind, but to consider what our actions are saying we believe….

    All that being said — I thought this was cool and great food for thought.

    I really like the integration of experiencing and expressing God’s love as played out in our lives and found his definitions of the quadrants interesting.”

    • March 24, 2010 5:16 am

      Tony – thanks so much for sharing this feedback. It is extremely helpful. I am using this with a group on Sunday, and will take all of your friend’s suggestions into account.

      She is spot on with the idea of asking more questions to score, etc. I’m all over it. I’ve started compiling them and will post at some point in the future when they are ready to roll.

      Thanks for the help!


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