A new study has found that Christian adults primarily believe integrity, not "passion for God," is the most important quality in a leader.
The study, conducted by Ventura, Calif.-based Barna Group, found that 64 percent of Christians believe integrity to be one of the most important leadership qualities, while other important traits include authenticity (40 percent), discipline (38 percent) and "passion for God" (31 percent). Among evangelicals, however, the percentage of those who believe passion for God is an important leadership quality is significantly higher (83 percent).
More than half (58 percent) of Christians call themselves leaders, but only 15 percent of those surveyed said integrity is their main leadership quality. Instead, believers are more likely to say their strongest leadership characteristic is competence (20 percent), discipline (16 percent), collaboration (15 percent), integrity (15 percent) or authenticity (14 percent). Evangelicals again differ from the overall group on this point, with 42 percent of them saying their passion for God is their best leadership quality.
When asked what leadership characteristic they would most like to improve in themselves, nearly three out of 10 Christians (27 percent) said they wanted more courage, 17 percent said discipline, 15 percent said vision and 13 percent said passion for God.
Though most Christians believe they are leaders, a strong majority (82 percent) also seem to think the United States is facing a shortage of leaders. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, offered his observations on America's "leadership crisis" on the group's website.
"Christians perceive a significant leadership crisis in America caused by a distinct lack of leaders. Most feel they are leaders, but many of them aren't confident that their leadership abilities are the most important traits in a leader," said Kinnaman. "This suggests many of them are still striving to meet even their own leadership expectations and it means many Christians may not think of their own leadership as helping to fill the leadership gap they experience. Perhaps this is why they are most interested in growing in terms of courage."
Other findings from the study show that only 34 percent of all Christians – 55 percent of evangelicals – feel their current job is their "calling." More than one-third (35 percent) of employed Christians today also said they at least somewhat feel called to do some other kind of work, but they have been unwilling to make a change because of their current position in life.
"It's illuminating to learn how few Christians believe they're called to do what they do," said Kinnaman. "This data presents a challenge to the popular Christian understanding of career as calling since most Christians in the U.S. don't seem to be thinking about their jobs in terms of calling. Most of the data suggests the concept of calling is not on their radar."
The research, which was conducted in June 2012, was based on an online survey of 1,116 randomly chosen adult Christians from the United States. It was conducted in conjunction with Brad Lomenick, president of the Catalyst conference, whose new book, The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker, was released this week.