Tag Archives: Leadership

JRF

JRF’s #3 – The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler

I normally don’t like to read books on leadership.  I find that they generally fall into one or more of the following categories: Secular leadership books filled with un-and-anti-Biblical advice, Christian leadership books that are trying to be like the secular ones but with some proof texts sprinkled in, or Biblical leadership books that are solid but are really only applicable to a senior pastor role.

 

With The Conviction to Lead, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler has broken the mold, composing a book that is driven and grounded in a high view of Scripture as well as broad enough to speak to Christians in any sphere of leadership, not just the church.

 

The basic premise is clearly displayed in the book’s title – that more than skill, personality, methods, and opportunities, it is the conviction to lead that is preeminent to being a successful, faithful, and Christ-honoring leader.  Stating that “true leadership starts with a purpose, not a plan,” Mohler seeks to bring together and empower two groups of people in the Christian leadership world – those who are believers and those who are leaders.  He says,

 

“If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster.  At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere.  My goal is to redefine Christian leadership so that it is inseperable from passionately held beliefs, and to motivate those who are deeply commited to truth to be ready for leadership.”

 

Mohler succeeds brilliantly with his goal, grounding much of his advice and exhortation in his real life experience of turning almost singlehandedly the historic Southern Baptist Seminary from a being a bastion of Liberal theology to being a flagship of Biblical faithfulness that it has now become.

 

I would put this up there with Oswald Sanders’ book as one of the best on Christian leadership.  I look forward to returning to it often and recommending it to others.

 

“We do not believe in belief any more than we have faith in faith.  We believe the gospel, and we have faith in Christ.  Our beliefs have substance and our faith has an object.”

 

“You can divide all leaders into those who merely hold an office or position and those who hold great convictions”

mark

Mark’s #42 – Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley (2003)

Andy Stanley excels at communication and leadership – that’s a big reason he pastors the second largest church in America.  Next Generation Leader is a book that I read several years ago, but was feeling the need for a refresher to spur on my own leadership abilities.

This book focuses on five keys for development and success for up and coming leaders:

  1. Competence – Do Less, Accomplish More.
  2. Courage – Courage Establishes Leadership
  3. Clarity – Uncertainty Demands Clarity
  4. Coaching – Coaching Enables A Leader To Go Farther, Faster
  5. Character – Character Determines the Leader’s Legacy

 

As it has been awhile since I first read this book, I realize now how impactful this little book has been on my own leadership approach and philosophy.   This is the book that encouraged me to spend the majority of my time as a pastor focusing on study, preaching, and development of other leaders (strength areas).  Stanley encourages leaders to play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses.

The other key impact of this book is the necessity for clarity, even in uncertain times – especially in uncertain times.   Stanley is a master of casting vision with clarity.   For example, even in this book, Stanley works hard to make the big idea and key points of each chapter as clear as possible with great illustrations, and concise section summaries.

I would recommend this book to any one who desires to lead people on any level.

mark

Mark’s #38 – Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper (2002)

For the past year or so, I have been reading through this book with the Men’s leadership team at The Harbor.   Each time we meet, we read one of the thirty chapters written by the preeminent pastor of our time, John Piper.   These chapters comprise Piper’s passionate plea to pastors and church leaders addressing a wide variety of pastoral issues and concerns.   The readings have led to great discussions amongst the leadership team and helpful reminders to keep us focused in the right direction as we shepherd the flock God has entrusted us with.  In chapter is typical of pastor Piper’s theology; God-centered and Christ exalting.

Personally, the most impactful of these chapters were;

4. Brothers, Live and Preach Justification by Faith

8. Brothers, Let us Pray

9. Brothers, Beware of Sacred Substitutes

14. Brothers, Show Your People Why God Inspired Hard Texts

16. Brothers, We Must Feel the Truth of Hell

22. Brothers, Tell Them Copper Will Do

25. Brothers, Give Them God’s Passion for Missions

If you are a pastor or lay leader in the church, this should be on your ‘must read’ list.

 

ron

Ron’s #44: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Mark’s excellent review is here.

I finished the last few pages of this biography in the following environment: My Apple TV played Cars streamed from my Mac that I controlled with my iPhone. All that was missing was an afternoon trip to an Apple Store somewhere. This illustrates not my dependence on technology (a topic that was addressed several other times in my reviews), but on the influence Steve Jobs has in my life. In many ways, Apple’s history is my history. Since I’m only a little older than Apple, I can connect aspects of my life with its.

I bought my first Mac in 1998 and lived in an Apple-exclusive home every since. The history of Apple and the computer industry has been a favorite topic of study over the years, and I’ve read and watched many books and movies. I have been an Apple enthusiast/evangelist for over a decade. I, like many, fell into Steve’s charismatic spell. Because of this, reading the new biography about Steve Jobs was not an option; it was an edict from within. The author, Walter Isaacson, chronicled the lives of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and now, Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was a many of contradictions.

He was a billionaire, and he was a Zen Buddhist.
He created beautiful products, but he lived as a minimalist.
He was a charismatic man, but he was a complete jerk everyone around him.
He talked about passion in life, but he largely ignored his family.
He believed in design and beauty, but he ignored a Creator or Architect.
He believed in eschewing the trappings of the world, but he created the prettiest ones.

Isaacson gives a multi-faceted picture of the man who popularized geek, both the good and the ugly. And there is lots of ugly. The book is fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable, even if you were not interested in computer history. Steve Jobs is as tormented of a man as any character is a Dostoevsky novel. He wants to build great things, but he gets in his own way. He died with few close friends, but changed the technology world for the good. On one side he inspired engineers and designers under his leadership to create products that couldn’t be done, but he did this with berating, insulting, and, at times, crying. Most leaders use encouraging phrases like “Good job!” and “Impressive!” to help build up employees. Steve Jobs’s favorite line when he is shown a new design or feature is, “This is shit!” To Steve, this isn’t an insult; rather, it is a motivational tool.

What makes this book rich and deep is not just the computer history narrative, but it is also the subplots that run through the story: adoption, Steve’s estranged daughter that he denied for years, his romantic life, Bob Dylan, and Steve’s cancer. These secondary stories make Jobs more human and relatable to use non-billionaire geniuses.

While I learned much more about Apple, the one aspect that I was more surprised to discover is how much Steve Jobs really did at Apple, even in the final days. He micromanaged design, usability, packaging, commercials, color of walls, construction of new buildings and campuses, tile in Apple stores, the “floating” staircase in the stores, and even the dinner menu at events. Before I read the book, I thought that Apple would continue just fine without him. Now, after reading how he made all the decisions, I’m not so sure.

There’s so much more I want to say in praise of this book and for Steve Jobs and Apple, but I’ll save those for conversations with my geeky friends. I wish I could have it with Steve himself. Steve Jobs was one man I wanted to have dinner with someday. (Sidenote: I did have coffee with Apple’s other co-founder, Steve Wozniak. It was a great conversation with a slightly odd fellow. Read about it here). I’d love to talk about how his quest for design, order, and beauty springs from something within us, something built by an ultimate Designer. There was an interesting spiritual comment from Jobs as Yo-Yo Ma was playing his cello for an event. “You playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.” After this, Jobs made Yo-Yo Ma commit to playing the cello at his funeral. Fittingly, I am listening to Ma’s Bach Cello Suites as I type this.

I know what Steve Jobs would say about this review for his biography if he were to read it:

“This is shit.”

JRF

JRF’s #26 – Called to Lead by John MacArthur

This book, formerly published under the somewhat pompous title – “The Book on Leadership”, examines the life of Paul and draws 26 leadership lessons from his example.

I don’t know if you are ever tempted to skip the Introduction to a book and jump right in on Chapter One, but if you read this book make sure not to neglect the Introduction.  In it, MacArthur defines leadership Biblically, which is quite another thing entirely from Worldly leadership.   That isn’t to say that those who are faithful leaders in the Biblical sense will not or can not be leaders in the World, however the means, motivations, and power behind that leadership will be drastically different from those who do no follow Christ.

I also appreciated how MacArthur points out in the introduction that all Christians are called to be leaders in some sphere or another.  At a basic level all Christians are called to be leaders because all Christians are called by Jesus to be “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20).  To be a Christian is to be a teacher.  To be a teacher is to be a leader.  This book is not just for pastors, or men, or CEO’s…it is for all who seek to be faithful to lead in whatever venue and relationships God has given you.

The first third of the book (and most enjoyable) draws leadership principles from the harrowing account of Paul’s journey to Rome as a prisoner and the subsequent shipwreck recorded in the last chapters of Acts.  Seeing as how he was in chains, Paul was the least likely person to lead anyone, let alone an entire ship’s crew, her captain, and the Roman Centurion who was charged with keeping Paul in chains.

The second third looks at Paul’s leadership of the Corinthian church, as recorded in II Corinthians.  Here the church he had poured his life out for was falling away from him, necessitating both a firm, direct, yet loving rebuke from the apostle as well as a harsh and fierce offensive against the false teachers that were leading the church astray.

The last third of the book examines Paul’s final letter, II Timothy, and discusses how a leader should aim to remain qualified to lead and finish his race with integrity.

This book was definitely challenging to me and I ask for your prayers as I seek by God’s grace to live out these principles in any and all spheres of influence God places me in.

the 26 Leadership Principles:

  1. A leader is trustworthy
  2. A leader takes the initiative
  3. A leader uses good judgement
  4. A leader speaks with authority
  5. A leader strengthens others
  6. A leader is optimistic and enthusiastic
  7. A leader never compromises the absolutes
  8. A leader focuses on objectives, not obstacles
  9. A leader empowers by example
  10. A leader cultivates loyalty
  11. A leader has empathy for others
  12. A leader keeps a clear conscience
  13. A leader is definite and decisive
  14. A leader knows when to change his mind
  15. A leader does not abuse his authority
  16. A leader doesn’t abdicate his role in the face of opposition
  17. A leader is sure of his calling
  18. A leader knows his own limitations
  19. A leader is resilient
  20. A leader is passionate
  21. A leader is courageous
  22. A leader is discerning
  23. A leader is disciplined
  24. A leader is energetic
  25. A leader knows how to delegate
  26. A leader is Christlike

 

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