Transformational Leadership Starts with Self Transformation

August 11, 2019 • Life for Leaders

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2


Regeneration—a word we don’t use often enough. It describes salvation and the realities of our new lives in Christ. This word suggests that salvation necessarily comes with changes in the way we act, speak, and think. In other words, regeneration speaks of being transformed. Although this may feel like a farfetched notion to some people, even to believers, it is a Biblical guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:17 assures us that for those of us in Christ, “the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

A butterfly representing transformation.While this scripture declares that regeneration is instant and assured, our submission to that reality is a process. You know the process: the one in which God continues to reveal to you the things that must change in your life, leaving you to decide whether you will ignore his voice or yield to the change he brings. If we were to be honest, we often resist that change—some of us being more stubborn than others. Yet this process is critical to our mandates of evangelism, reconciliation, and leadership.

People are coming to an understanding that the do as I say, not as I do mantra is inadequate in bringing change and often results in resentment towards leaders and the principles that leaders seek to impart. Human beings require an example—something they can visualize, desire, and pattern their lives after. This is what made Christ’s birth, life, and death necessary components of God’s redemptive plan. Therefore, if people respond to examples, transformational leaders must live lives that demonstrate God’s will on earth more than we preach it. Leaders who simply dictate good policy and procedures are sometimes despised, while the leaders who embody the policies and principles they preach are respected and find receptive audiences.

When we look at the injustices that abound in the earth and the moral ambiguity that is present in the world, we recognize that change and resolve should start with self-examination. Before we demand justice from the world, we must discipline ourselves to yield to the reshaping of our minds, appetites, and pursuits. We can preach against sexism, racism, bigotry, and hate—yet, transformation will not happen until the antidotes for these issues are embodied by believers and the church first! Whether you are a leader in your house, community, job, or church, transformational change begins with you, and then flows down to those who follow you. Let there be change in the earth, and let it begin with me.


Lord, change can sometimes feel difficult and overwhelming. Our flesh grows weary and tired in the process. We want transformation, Lord, but we need your help to endure it. Guide us from the place of promised change and to the fulfillment of becoming who we have always been in you. When we act stubbornly against your will, soften our hearts. When we disobey your instructions, please renew your release of grace that gives us another chance to come in alignment with you. Yours is the kingdom, power, and glory. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Be Transformed By The Renewing of Your Minds (Romans 12:1-3).



2 thoughts on “Transformational Leadership Starts with Self Transformation

  1. Dr. Jon M. Huegli says:

    The phrase “transformational leadership” has a very specific meaning to working leaders but also tends to be bandied about to label secular and spiritual leadersin in generic ways. The concept was developed, scientifically researched and applied by James McGregor Burns and then by Bernard Bass. It is a behavioral science theory that describes specific behaviors of a leader whose own behavior helps followers transform. And that transformation is a life changing one for the led. It is a complete paradigm shift–an entirely different way of perceiving themselves and their relationship to their environments. The result is not simply a change; it is new way of thinking, feeling and behaving never before experienced. The leader is not transformed, but is instead the facilitator of the followers’ transformations. In a forthcoming book, “Conformational Leadership: Nehemiah’s Transformative Principles for Today’s Christians,” I demonstrate that Nehemiah’s impact in wall rebuilding is a result of his daily conversations with God. Here is an old man who has absolutely no previous large construction project management experience bringing together all of the needed resources to complete the wall against all odds in record time. The consequence is that he becomes God’s instrument, which in turn, brings about a transformative experience for the disparate group of wall-builders.

    As Christians, we need to recognize that behavioral science models of leadership are not effective in facilitating growth and development in a spiritual body because they tend to assume the humanistic principle that it is within us to be great leaders. As Christians, however, characters like Nehemiah show us that it is only when leaders conform to God’s will that they can be used by God as facilitators of follower’ transformations. As a past Christian corporate executive and a present practicing organizational psychologist I urge my fellow Christian sisters and brothers to take up Bible-based leadership principles and practices rather than adopt secular ones. As Mother Teresa expressed it, “If we remember that we are only pencils in the hands of God, then we can have significant impact. If we perceive ourselves as anything more than that, then we have nothing to offer.

  2. DiAnne Krumm says:

    I need to post this to my refrigerator so I see it often!

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