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Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda

by Henry T. Blackaby, Richard Blackaby

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1,254715,648 (3.9)1
Drawing upon their own extensive leadership experience as well as their ministry to leaders in all walks of life, Henry and Richard Blackaby offer insightful counsel into the ways God develops, guides, and empowers spiritual leaders. Clear guidance is given on how leaders can make a positive impact on the people and organizations they are currently leading.… (more)

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This book was written by the father-son team of Henry and Richard Blackaby. Having led various organizations, large and small, in the church, they have the background to write on spiritual leadership, though I found myself dissatisfied with how they approached the topic--dissatisfied enough for some introspection on why. Here are my reasons (and I'll try to be brief):

The Blackabys wrote eleven chapters on leadership, entitled "The Leaders...Challenge, Role, Preparation, Vision, Character, Goal, Influence, Decision-Making, Schedule, Pitfalls and Rewards." About half way through the book, I found myself remarking (to myself), "This reads like any of the hundred other leadership books I've read with some Biblical or Spiritual material thrown in to illustrate the subject." Pick up almost any book by any author on leadership and you can find similar chapters and subjects. I expected a fresh look at leadership as described and illustrated in Scripture. Instead I was reading just another book on the same old topics.

At some places where the Blackabys had the opportunity to distinguish spiritual leadership (and their book) from the normal literature, they failed. As an example, this was their comment on Joseph: "There may not be anything overtly spiritual about building grain storage bins or developing a food distribution system, but these activities were on God's agenda." Here, they missed the opportunity to describe all work as God's work, all work as sacred. Work was God's creation and gift to Adam and Eve--before the fall--so any work, properly viewed, is overtly spiritual and sacred.

Likewise, at one point they make this important point: "...what 'success' means in God's kingdom...is not measured by the same standards as the world uses." Yet again and again in the book the appeal to the standards of the world as examples of good leadership.

At other places where they are describing leadership as many others have before (and since) their book, they seemed unaware of their message. This from the third chapter ("The Leader's Preparation"): "...but ultimately leadership is more about 'being' than doing" followed immediately after the second chapter entitled, "The Leader's Role: What Leaders Do". Much later in the book, discussing Lee Iacocca, they write, "His reputation was not enough. Leadership begins with 'being' but ultimately turns to 'doing.' It is not one's credentials but one's performance that ultimately confirms a person as a leader." Performance is a measure of doing. Leadership performance is almost always measured against the standards of the world. In writing about Iacocca, they undermined their own message.

Finally, in the chapter on a Leader's Pitfalls, the authors suggest five "safeguards" against sexual sin (accountability, heed their own counsel, contemplate the consequences, develop healthy habits, and pray). All are valuable; they are useful tools. But they are, by themselves, insufficient as they are all defensive and aimed at "not sinning." Having worked with several men who have struggled with sexual sin, I know these defensive measures are easily defeated, ignored and sidestepped by one bent on sin. History, ancient and current, is full of cautionary examples. Without a heart radically inclined to the pursuit of God and His character, His standards, all the defensive measures in the world won't work. I wish the authors had spent more time on a leader's pursuit of holiness. Which led to my own introspection.

Because of my growing dissatisfaction as I read, I spent some time thinking on the problem. Why do people read books on leadership? Because they desire to be a leader or to sharpen their leadership skills. These are good reasons and I can think of several books better than this one to fulfill those needs. But what about spiritual leadership? I pondered the most famous Biblical leaders. Who were they? How did they become an exceptional leader?

Abraham, they guy snatched up out of Ur and told by God to "Go...to a place I will show you."

Moses, the reluctant leader who argued with God for several chapters about his qualifications to lead, finally saying "send someone else!"

Samuel, called to leadership off his bed as a young boy.

David, the seventh son relegated to watch the sheep.

Jeremiah, whom God called from the womb who also argued with God about his youth.

Ezekiel, the prophet wandering in exile by the Khebar Canal whom God called and promised the people would not listen to him (how's that for an ordination?).

Saul, the enemy of God radically redirected by God on the road to Damascus.

None of these sought to be a leader of God's people. None likely read a single word on leadership skills. If we want great leaders in today's church, perhaps we should be redirecting them from books on leadership to the radical pursuit of God and listening for His still small voice. God will choose the next great leader of His people. Because our faces are buried in the latest popular book on leadership, we'll be surprised about who it is. ( )
  fathermurf | Oct 4, 2023 |
Next to his Experiencing God classic, Spiritual Leadership is one of Henry Blackaby’s most highly regarded and best-selling books to date, encouraging leaders in business and church to follow God’s design for success. Now, the companion interactive study personalizes the experience of learning the ways in which God develops, guides, and empowers spiritual leaders.
  OLibrary | Mar 18, 2022 |
This book gives excellent advice for leaders. This is particularly true for spiritual leaders. I would recommend reading this book. ( )
  torrey23 | Jul 13, 2013 |
A teacher is not a teacher just because she has teaching skills, a teaching degree, a position at a school, a knowledge of her subject, and a curriculum for her class. She is a teacher when her students learn. Likewise, neither credentials, skills, position, nor good intentions make a leader. A leader is a leader only when his followers follow. Furthermore, for a spiritual leader, getting people to follow you is not the goal—leading them to take up God’s agenda and effectively do God’s work is. Thanks to Father and Son Blackaby for this tremendously insightful book which has shaped my thinking as a pastor and spiritual leader. ( )
  pastorstevensimpson | Jan 8, 2009 |
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Drawing upon their own extensive leadership experience as well as their ministry to leaders in all walks of life, Henry and Richard Blackaby offer insightful counsel into the ways God develops, guides, and empowers spiritual leaders. Clear guidance is given on how leaders can make a positive impact on the people and organizations they are currently leading.

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