Are you a city on a hill or a spooky castle?: Thoughts on discipleship and leadership

I was listening to the EntreLeader Podcast recently as I drove to work. The presenter described the interviewee as ‘a city on a hill’. I loved that description and was struck by the thought that Christ-centred people are called to be cities on a hill. And then I thought…



Am I a city on a hill? A city provides safety, shelter, company, hope, opportunities, friendships, warmth, food, etc. as Christ-centred people we are called to be the type of person others are drawn to. Isn’t that what Jesus was like? People were drawn to him. People wanted to hear his words; they wanted to learn his wisdom; they wanted to be his mate!

There’s something good about hanging out with someone who makes you believe, feel and think you are amazing, special and cared for – we gravitate towards these people; We aspire to be like these people. Christian Leaders should be those who are most like Jesus: we need to follow those who have an ability to shine Jesus’ light into our lives so that through their support and example we also begin to shine like a city set on a hill.

It is a sad reality that often leaders are less city and more castle. So how can we identify a spooky castle?



I’m sure you’ve seen movies or kids’ cartoons where the protagonists arrive at a dark, dark castle in the middle of the night. The rain is pouring down; the wind is howling like a wolf; the car has broken down and they need shelter for the night.

They find a dark castle with foreboding walls and a single light shining through one small window. In their desperation they knock on the door and you just know they should turn around and flee!!

The spooky castle person is unapproachable: They incite fear and often manipulate and control others; their words can be harsh and they don’t have much real compassion for others; they tend towards being the centre of everything and they believe that everything is all about them. Often these traits are very subtle rather than overt: when around these people you are likely to experience thoughts of self-doubt and you may often feel that you are never good enough. If you are in a situation, relationship or community that leaves you feeling this way regularly then you need to get out! Fast! Like now!!

As Leaders, or as followers of Jesus, we need to be sure that we are never the proverbial ‘spooky castle in the dark’. We are to be like Jesus: approachable; warm; full of love; kind; caring; strong; positive; etc. We need to be genuinely there for other people in order to serve and build them up to be the best they can possibly be.

The truth is that we are mostly a combination of both: our nature is darkness and light. But we don’t need to stay as we are: the Gospel of Jesus leads us into a model of discipleship that encourages us to choose and change to be more like Jesus (HE is the ultimate City on a Hill). So here’s the challenge and some points for reflection:


Which one are you most like?
How can you make your light shine brighter?
How are you adding value to other people’s lives today?
Are you an approachable leader?
do you need to escape a castle and find a city?
What one thing can you change simply right now to let your light shine brighter?


 City On a Hill




 Spooky Castle
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections. Please leave some comments in the space below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s