Below is my reading reflection on Henry and Richard Blackaby’s book Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda.
The father and son team, Henry T. and Richard Blackaby, book Spiritual Leadership illustrates leadership principles that are uniquely different from the abundant secular resources available. According to the authors, the book is for spiritual leaders in both Christian and secular organizations. Leaders, who recognize that spiritual leadership is not an occupation but a calling (xiii-xiv). Through an examination of Scriptures and excerpts from current and historical effective leaders, the authors conveys clear biblical principles that lead to successful leadership according to God’s agenda (xi-373). This reading reflection will include a summary of Spiritual Leadership along with an evaluation of its major strengths and weaknesses.
The goal of Spiritual Leadership is to teach Christian leaders how to actually guide employees onto God’s agenda (x). Within thirteen chapters, secular and Christian behaviors are highlighted through vivid illustrations and real world scenarios in order to show leaders how to appropriately address “challenges, preparation, vision, goal, character, influence, decision making, schedule, change, effective teams, pitfalls and rewards” (1-370). In the final chapter, the authors propose a challenge to Christian leaders.
Chapters one through four illustrate the challenges leaders deal with in their role, preparation, and vision. Chapter one presents daunting statistics reflecting that only 10.9 percent of leaders would continue to work if they did not need the income (4). Showing that most individuals are working merely for the salary and not from a sense of calling (4). Historical leaders such as John Adams, Thomas Paine and James Canton also observed as much (5). Nevertheless, society is confronted with three current challenges that profoundly impact leaders of organizations, which include technology, globalization, and diversity as leaders grapple with challenges in business, church, and home.(4-17). In addition, whether or not leaders are able to discern between secular and Christian leadership, God or king, great man or group theory in light of ambition presents additional challenges for organizations (18-28).
In Chapter two, the authors affirm that the role of leaders should be spiritual and not secular regardless of the type of organization. Individuals should seek to lead according to God’s will and guidance, for it is Jesus Christ that established the pattern for Christian leaders (33). Chapter three asserts that God give leaders their assignments and develops them today, just as He did with Abraham (51-83). For in chapter four, Proverbs 29:18 (KJV), clearly illustrate the importance of a vision, so that the people will not perish. Successful leaders realize that the vision comes from God’s revelation and as leaders, they should share the vision with the group in accountability (85-117).
Chapters five through eight present types of goals, character, and ways leaders influence others, as well as, how leaders make decisions. In chapter five the leaders should have the goal of moving individuals onto God’s agenda. Leaders should move beyond unworthy goals such as achieving results, perfectionism and growing organizations to huge sizes, to focusing on worthy goals that includes developing people, equipping others to lead and glorifying God (119-144).
In chapter six, the Blackabys, point out that leaders should display a character that moves others to follow. Position, power and personality are illegitimate forms of influence, while God’s involvement, integrity, successful work record, preparation, humility and courage are legitimate ways to influence others (147-179). Additionally, in chapter seven, leader’s influence determines how others lead. Leaders prayer, work hard, communicate effectively, serve, maintain positive attitudes, and encourage others (181-210) Focused leaders demonstrate great concentration and discernment that allows them to be “extraordinary leaders that lead movements” and move beyond “ordinary that lead followers” and “great leaders that lead leaders” (212-215).
Chapter eight emphasizes that there are several guidelines that leaders should follow when making decisions. First, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, endeavor to be teachable, master their history, plan and be accountable to God (219-231). Additionally, leaders accept the consequences of their decisions, admit mistakes and stand by their choices (231-236). Furthermore, leaders improve decision-making through evaluation and close communication with God for vision and wisdom (236-240).
Chapters nine through thirteen addresses practical support for leaders, such as schedule, change, building effective teams, pitfalls and rewards. Spirit leaders understand that time is a precious resource from God and know how to “subjugate, eliminate, cultivate, delegate and concentrate” (243-255). Hence, leaders make time for what is important and schedule “unhurried” intervals with God, family, health and individuals (255-265). Leaders avoid idlers, like unnecessary technology, lack of personnel, useless conversation, needless hobbies and disorganization (265-272).
Leaders seek God’s direction for change and discern their organization’s culture, provide clear destinations, cultivate the sense of urgency, enlist supporters, provide support, and follow through to complete the desired change (275-290). Leaders also, build effective teams that develop a self-motivated culture, amplify diversity, love people, sustain focus, promote healthy communication and maximize people capacities (293-310). Consequently, leaders overcome the pitfalls of pride, carnal sin, skepticism, self-indulgence, intellectual laziness, oversensitivity, spiritual exhaustion, family neglect, administrative inattentiveness, and continuing in the leadership position to long” (313-348).
Hence, recognizing that “wealth, power, and fame” are usually the goals of secular leaders, spiritual leaders know that a deeper sense of fulfillment is available (353). For the reward of heaven and the crown of righteousness is available for those called according to God’s holy will and those who obey His instructions. For these leaders enjoy not only heaven’s reward by outstanding relationships and a legacy that survives their administration (352-370). For Hebrew 11:6 (KJV), affirms that God is just and will reward accordingly. While the final chapter challenges Christian leaders to use globalization and technology to further God’s agenda and to extend His kingdom (373).
Henry T. and Richard Blackaby did an outstanding job of achieving their stated purpose, which was to provide Christian leaders with the skills to lead their employees onto God’s agenda. The book was well written and organized with straightforward and clear language. There were frequent illustrations and well-defined documentation for referenced scriptures and other quoted materials. The practical, real world circumstances provided many more strengths then weakness.
Strengths included, the selected scenarios taken from Scripture, snapshots from the lives of effective leaders from history and the present along with real-world connections that demonstrated a strong biblical foundation for effective leadership. For example, great visions inspire people, John F. Kennedy’s vision to place a man on the moon, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech (107), Moses, Abraham and the Master Teacher Jesus Christ along with other exemplary illustrations made it understood that only Christian leadership will accomplish successful governance of an organization.
It was obvious that the authors were knowledgeable on the topic of spiritual leadership. They wrote with ease and uniformity. The text flowed from one topic to the next, while maintaining a balance connection to the primary goal of the book. Each chapter kept its focus on God’s word and fellowship with God as the key to successful leadership, whether the examples and illustrations were from military, political or religious settings.
Additionally, the link between Scriptures, past and present leaders and powerful real-world illustrations served to bring the reader into the situations of the moment. The story in chapter one, brought tears to my eyes as I could so readily identify with “Mike that sat stunned in the boardroom” (1). The story was powerful and direct. A story that I imagine is very common among Christians trying to lead secular organizations as well as non-Christians, trying to lead secular organizations.
Pastor Edwards (2) was not just a faceless individual. The authors made him real, as were all the other characters that came to life in the following chapters. The authors’ storytelling was engaging and meaningful. It kept the reader seeking, searching and anticipating solutions applicable to ones on challenging situations.
There just did not seem to be any notable justifiable weakness in the book Spiritual Leadership. One could certainly provide an opinion that different illustrations, different biblical characters or scriptures should have been selected or different historical or present leaders could have been highlighted. Nevertheless, that would be a preference, not a weakness. This was a great book that every Christian leader should read and reread. Keep a copy in their library and give as gifts to family, friends and colleagues.
God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.