No matter who you are, you can be a spiritual leader that others look up to. This is true whether you’re part of a traditional religion with a formal priesthood, like Catholicism, or a more decentralized spiritual path, such as Wicca.
The reason you may think you can’t be a spiritual leader is that society has formalized the profession. If you aren’t making money off your leadership, then you might believe you have no meaningful influence in our capitalist economy.
But don’t throw yourself into a nunnery or open a yoga studio. You can become a spiritual leader without being a guru by remembering these three basic principles.
1. Understand Your Spiritual Truth
One of the best models we have for spiritual leadership is in small, Protestant churches. Not the large megachurches you hear about on television with paid staff, but the corner churches supported entirely by volunteer labor.
A pastor will step up and lead their flock, but there are also small groups that meet within the church headed by members of the congregation. They aren’t compensated for their time in any way, but still manage prayer groups, charity programs, and events simply because it’s an expression of their faith.
And in Christianity? Fellowship is part of their spiritual truth. They live out their faith by standing up and breaking bread with others.
Whatever your beliefs, look towards them and consider which values are held up by that community. And then, live out those values in your life. What’s true in your spiritual path must manifest in your life if you wish to be considered a leader.
2. Love Your Community
A second example from small, Protestant churches is their community outreach. These churches usually run a few charity programs that help members of their congregation and people out in the world. Christians run these programs because they’re encouraged to love their neighbor – whether others believe Jesus is their savior or not.
This has a powerful effect on how individuals are viewed within the church and by non-Christians. Those who stand up and give to others are elevated to heights other members of the congregation are not. It takes someone who truly understands and cares about their faith to put the time and effort to give to others.
But you don’t have to pay any money to do this. Charities need your time just as much as they need your money. While the Christian answer is traditional volunteer work, this may take a different form in your spiritual community. For example, someone who values meditation can take time each weekend to record a guided meditation that they then share for free on the Internet.
You can be quite creative in your approach to showing love to your community. Just ask how you can give to them without expecting anything in return.
3. Be a Role Model and Mentor
Those who aren’t part of an organized religious community may not realize the close relationships members have with each other. These relationships exist because members often get to know each other since they meet a few times a month over many years – and sometimes, their entire lives.
Small protestant churches can be close-knit and have members of different genders, ages, ethnicities, classes, and other backgrounds. This wealth of experience goes a long way in giving a nuanced perspective of their shared faith. As members grow to care about each other, they strive to model Jesus and help each other.
You can do the same thing even if you’re not part of an organized religious community. Yes, some previously decentralized groups are beginning to meet more in person, like the Norse pagans, but you don’t have to meet someone in real life to have a true connection.
Join online communities or attend related events. For example, someone who is “spiritual, but not religious” may find attending yoga classes help them meet those with a similar mindset. Treat the people you meet like someone who is part of your tribe and allow yourself to care about their spiritual and personal growth.
Once you do that, you’ll find opportunities to model your values and mentor those who need help.
Spiritual Leadership Isn’t a Career, But a Moral Action
Always remember that being a “guru” isn’t the same thing as being a spiritual leader. Someone can be in charge or influential without providing the necessary guidance expected of a true leader.
Instead, focus on the act of spiritual leadership through understanding your spiritual truth, loving your community, and being someone others can look to as a true life coach.
I’ll end with a powerful quote from Deepak Chopra:
Now go be the person you’ve always wanted to look up to for spiritual guidance.
Did this article inspire you? Let me know! And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to receive e-mails when I publish on topics of spirituality. I also write tarot pick a cards which are fun to read and give you a psychic glimpse into your life.