They say that leaders are readers (which perhaps suggests that leaders who write are the real leaders); here are five books I’d recommend. They are not that recent, though I must confess that I have only read some of them quite recently.
A Work of Heart (Reggie McNeal)
I’m not sure how I stumbled across this one, but I’m glad I did! I read it a few years ago and it’s an insightful and challenging look at how God shapes spiritual leaders. In the first part of the book, Reggie McNeal tells the story of four biblical leaders: Moses, David, Paul and Jesus; in part 2 he focuses in on what he describes as 6 significant arenas in which heart-shaping takes place. These are culture, call, community, communion, conflict, and the commonplace.
A marvellous and mysterious interface of divine and human choices conspires and contends in designing a life and in shaping the heart that lies at the center of it.
Leading with a Limp (Dan Allender)
I’ve already written at greater length about this one. Allender flags five kinds of challenge a leader has to deal with: crisis, complexity, betrayal, loneliness, and weariness. Instead of responding with cowardice, rigidity, narcissism, hiding and fatalism, it would be more effective if leaders were to respond with courage, depth, gratitude, openness, and hope.
Spiritual Leadership (Henry and Richard Blackaby)
An excellent treatment of the theme of spiritual leadership. The authors do not limit themselves to leadership within the church, proposing that ‘to be a spiritual leader is just as essential in the marketplace as in the church.’ There is a rich and challenging discussion of key themes like character, influence, and preparation. There is biblical content, but the authors draw also from a (limited) number of secular leadership writers and several historical examples.
Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda.
Growing Leaders (James Lawrence)
From this side of the Atlantic, James Lawrence (director of CPAS and Arrow) has brought us his ‘reflections on leadership, life and Jesus.’ He argues that leadership is a function, a position, and a talent. The bulk of his material is arranged around four themes: Growing leaders know they are chosen, they discern God’s call, they develop Christ-like character, they cultivate competence and they lead in community.
Resilient Ministry (Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman, Donald Guthrie)
I’ve already devoted several posts to the content of this book. The book is the result of a significant research project where the researchers wanted to discover what it takes to survive and thrive in pastoral ministry. From the 12000-odd pages of transcripts, they highlighted five themes: spiritual formation (the ongoing process of maturing as a Christian), self-care (the ongoing development of the whole person), emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, and the poetry and plumbing of leadership. Far from being a dry summary of findings, Resilient Ministry is an excellent, highly readable resource that should be of value to anyone in pastoral ministry or involved in the training or support of pastoral leaders.
Christian leaders are to bear fruit by sharing their faith and nurturing the fruit of God’s grace in their own lives and in the lives of others. Fruitfulness includes a measure of faithfulness and a measure of success – valuing both but preferring neither.
What would you put on your ‘should read this’ list?