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Facing Leviathan: Leadership, Influence, and Creating in a Cultural Storm Paperback – March 1, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


I cannot express how much I needed this book—nor how much our church and our culture needs it. From the first page (or more precisely, the second) to the last it is full of surprise, insight, honesty, clarity, and hope. It is prophetic in the deepest sense of the word. No one who aspires to lead in the way of Christ should miss the chance to read Facing Leviathan.
Andy Crouch, executive editor, Christianity Today, author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power 

Facing Leviathan is a beautifully written book that weaves history and the Word of God together in a spectacular and challenging tapestry.  I was moved, encouraged and provoked.
Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, president of Acts 29 Church Planting Network

With a sharp historical analysis, Mark Sayers shows how we are shaped by a culture where image and performance is everything. This book is a must-read for brave leaders who want lead and live in a way that is shaped by the life of Jesus.
Thomas Willer, sociologist, author, pastor of Regen, Copenhagen, Denmark 

Mark has written a beautifully engaging and well researched book on culture that drips with the prophetic. His insights into cultural history and how we got here are breathtaking, and how he turns them into lessons on leadership is just brilliant. This book is fun, insightful, engaging...I could go on and on. If you are a leader in any capacity, read this book.
Dave Lomas, pastor of Reality San Francisco, author of The Truest Thing About You

Mark Sayers understands leadership far beyond the bite-sized axioms frequently used. By teaching with his own failures in leadership as a prime example, he has the experience necessary to show the danger of following the movement of the culturally-mandated leadership. Take up the challenge of having your own preconceived notions of leadership questioned by reading Facing Leviathan, and walk away a leader who first follows the example of Christ, rather than the latest management tool.
Tyler Braun, author of Why Holiness Matters: We’ve Lost Our Way—But We Can Find It Again

Unlike any leadership book I have ever read, Facing Leviathan traverses the waves of Western history and exposes dangerous cultural currents in order to land us safely ashore a leadership that is neither pragmatic nor pietistic. Sayers charts a course right through the storms of vocational pride, ministry travails, and personal suffering by keeping a bead on God's profound, personal providence. Littered with insights, I couldn't shake the book after I read it. It haunted me, beckoning me into deeper self-reflection, while also inspiring me to lead underneath God. As you read, you'll get to think, repent, and refocus. On top of all that, it's a literary feast with morsels for all to enjoy.
Jonathan K. Dodson, lead pastor of City Life Church Austin, author of Gospel-Centered Discipleship

If you're like me and thought that leadership was reserved for the elite, that you had to be a CEO to be an influencer, there's good news: You don't. And this book will show you how.
Jeff Goins, author of The In-Between

The cultural and personal storms of our day are indeed raging, and few books will help us navigate them like Facing Leviathan. With prophetic insight and personal transparency, Mark Sayers steers leadership the way it should always go in a storm: the way of Christ Himself.
Tim Chaddick, pastor of Reality Los Angeles, author of Better 

No one will challenge your thinking more than Mark! I so appreciate both his insights and his passion to develop authentic disciples of Christ. We are in dire need of new ways to think about the development of disciples and leaders. They need to be the net results of a culture and community, as opposed to a new program or our quick-fix methods.
Terry Walling, president, leader of Breakthru

From the Back Cover

There are two styles of leadership at war in the world.

On one side, the mechanical leader casts a vision of heroic action aided by pragmatism, reason, technology, and power.

On the other side, the organic leader strives to bring forth creativity, defying convention and relishing life in culture’s margins.

This leadership battle is at the heart of our contemporary culture, but it is also an ancient battle. It is the reinvocation of two great heresies, one rooted in an attempt to reach for the heroic, godlikeness, the other bowing before the sea monster of the chaotic deep.

Today’s leader must answer many challenging questions including:

  • What does it mean to lead in a cultural storm?
  • How do I battle the darkness in my own heart?
  • Is there such a thing as a perfect leader?

Weaving a history of leadership through the Enlightenment, Romanticism, into tumultuous 19th century Paris and eventually World War II, cultural commentator Mark Sayers brings history and theology together to warn of the dangers yet to come, calling us to choose a better way. 


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802410960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802410962
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MARK SAYERS is a writer, speaker and pastor who is highly sought out for his unique and perceptive insights into faith and contemporary culture. Mark is the author of The Trouble with Paris, The Vertical Self, The Road Trip That Changed The World and Facing Leviathan. Mark is also the Senior Leader of Red Church, and the co-founder of Uber Ministries. Mark lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife Trudi, daughter Grace, and twin boys Hudson and Billy.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This is not a "leadership" book in the stereotypical sense. But it is an excellent book for leaders. Sayers is personal, historical, literary, philosophical, and biblical all woven together. He doesn't use lists of principles but rather illustrates them with history and stories and written works. I found it to be informative as well as extremely convicting at points too.
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Format: Paperback
Mark Sayers is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. His "The Road Trip That Changed the World," has become my go-to book for cultural engagement and analysis. Now, this latest book will be my goto book for leadership in our rapidly volatile cultural climate. Using the biblical sea monster described in the Old Testament book of Job, Sayers crafts this leadership guide that shines light on the cultural changes of this age, but penetrates deep into the forces that make or break a leader. Readers will slowly but surely be forced at some point to deal with their own "Leviathans."

Using the French Revolution and Paris as a metaphor, Sayers shows us how a society of power and glamour in 19th Century Paris that looks good on the outside can spawn the rise of a cruel and wicked person like Adolf Hitler. He points out the two popular forms of leadership: Mechanical (Enlightenment values) and Organic (Romanticism values). The former is based on power, task-driven, traditional, conventional, etc, while the latter is based on creativity, radical, relational, spiritual, imaginative, etc. Sayers admits that for the most part of his life, he has tried to evolve from the mechanical to the organic form of leadership.Gradually, he gets swamped by "surprising fruitlessness," "cultural splits," as well as his own bipolar condition, making him even more determined to find out the root cause of it all. He begins by meeting the Leviathan and the dangers of the sea. He observes with much fascination how poets like Jules Verne live out the Mechanical style of leadership while Rimbaud represents the organic form. Both had one thing in common: Both abandoned their Christian faith.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book presents as a book on leadership and there is some of that here but it is also something of cultural history and commentary and a bit of autobiography all mixed in with a critique of the seemingly burgeoning group of "spiritual but not religious." While I find myself in general agreement with what the author is saying, as best I understand it, I found much of his argument facile in as much as it was not concerned with looking at other angles that might be taken. There are some quote worthy points made here but I kept waiting for the author to draw the various strands together which I felt was never adequately done.Give might this book a try. It's not your normal Christian leadership book. I think that's probably a good thing.
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Format: Paperback
What is Leviathan? The NASB cites Leviathan only five times in the entire bible: Job 3:8, Job 41:1, Psalms 74:14, Psalms 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1. Leviathan is a sea creature, mighty and fierce as described throughout Job chapter 41. The weapons of this world cannot defeat him. His power is so great that man surely cannot survive against him. But man does not have to, for Isaiah 27:1 tells us that when the Lord delivers Israel, He will defeat the Leviathan.

Mark Sayers sets the challenge of leadership in this perspective. He examines two perspectives – the first, power through control, and the second, skeptical critique. Force versus romanticism. The following excepts from the book tell it well:

"Public speaking was irrevocably altered. No longer would leaders simply tell people what to do. Any public figure making exclusive claims seemed to now be treading on dangerous ground. No longer would people look to those in authority as messianic figures with the ability to rescue society from the storms that face us. It was almost as if the poison that Hitler released into the world had infected our idea of leadership itself. … Today many of us want to influence, but not many of us with to lead. We describe ourselves as activists, consultants, creatives and entrepreneurs.”

Go to the business or self-help or leadership section of your local bookstore and see how many titles you can find that describe the key to leadership as creativity, flexibility, collaboration, love, relationships, etc., the list goes on and on. The last several decades have seen the pendulum swing away from leadership by power (mechanical) to leadership by style and relationships (organic). But the pendulum will continue its motion as society responds to failed leadership of the past.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Books about leadership can be hit or miss. So many speakers, entrepreneurs, and authors try to write about being leaders that I think it’s sometimes hard to say anything truly fresh or original anymore. So, with this mind, I read Mark Sayer’s most recent book Facing Leviathan.

What You’ll Read About

To begin with, Facing Leviathan is no ordinary leadership book. It doesn’t attempt to extrapolate principles from the author’s life experience so much as it tries to weave a tale of leadership amidst a chaotic historical setting. Most of the time Sayers focuses on discussing historical leadership positions such as Hitler or even the fictional sea explorer Captain Nemo. Throughout the book, Sayers tries to explain where true leaders must find their foundation and how they must go about leading when everything around them is in chaos.

The book begins with a scene from Paris right before World War 2. This was before Hitler’s regime became one of the most well known powers in world history. Sayers attempts to explain Hitler’s culture and worldview, all the while weaving a comparison of “Organic Leadership” and “Mechanical Leadership”. He discusses bohemian culture, the art world, and how trendy it was (and still is) to abandon traditional leadership styles and methods.

Interesting Concept, Bad Execution

I have to be completely honest with you: I did not like Facing Leviathan. It was extremely disjointed and unorganized. I’m even having trouble writing a cohesive review for it because it tried to talk about too many things. There was little reference to even the book’s title until the book was coming to a close. I came away from this book having learned little about leadership, at least from a practical standpoint.
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