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Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry Hardcover – June 6, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (June 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083083513X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830835133
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"For those of us who lead, there are many fine books to hone our skills. But too few excavate our souls. Too few tell us stark truths, and serve up strong tonic, and give us hope and courage in the face of our calling's hardships and loneliness and moments of sheer tedium. Too few teach us how to seek and find God in the maze of committee work and the darkness of criticism and the heartbreak of betrayal. This book does all that, and well. Ruth Haley Barton has kept company with Moses, a 'pragmatic' and 'visionary' leader who found that, unless God went with him, there was no place worth going. Ruth's insights will at the very least strengthen the soul of your leadership. For some, it may make the difference in whether you finish the race at all." (Mark Buchanan, author of The Rest of God and pastor of New Life Community Church, Duncan, British Columbia)

"In the same spirit in which Henri Nouwen wrote The Return of the Prodigal Son, Ruth Haley Barton has captured the soul of Moses and has revealed him to us as a seeker of truth, wisdom and vulnerability." (Glandion W. Carney, Chaplain of the Christian Legal Society)

"A weary, waiting world cries out for God-shaped leaders who would serve more than be served, who would find power by laying down power, who would lose their lives for others. In her reflections on the life of Moses, God's radically human and holy friend, Ruth Haley Barton has given us not only a portrait of what sacrificial and redemptive leadership looks like, but has provided practice for getting there. This is a book to read alone and together. It will encourage and empower us to seek God more deeply, to listen for and embody our innate callings, to stay faithful to our solitary and even lonely journeys in community, and to love God for the long haul." (N. Gordon Cosby, cofounder, The Church of the Saviour, Washington D.C.)

"In a landscape littered with leadership books that tinker at the margins of what really matters, Ruth Haley Barton offers us practical guidance to the core of life-changing leadership: spiritual authenticity and health. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership lays bare the ancient truth that great leadership comes from the inside out, and provides a helpful road map for examining and seeking God's transformation of that largely unexamined inner core from which true leadership proceeds. This is a powerful resource for me and my own leadership team." (Gary Haugen, president, International Justice Mission, and author of Good News About Injustice)

"[This] book has become for me a companion on the way. . . . The author's style is warm and accessible. I like her insights into the inner life of the leader. . . . I am deeply grateful for the helpful practices she describes and recommends. But what draws me even more is that Ruth writes with realness and integrity out of her own intimate experience of the inner journey of a leader. . . . Reading this book will surely help you to be attentive to the God who is the strength of your soul, and the heart of your leadership." (From the foreword by Leighton Ford, founder of the Arrow Leadership program and author of The Attentive Life)

About the Author

Ruth Haley Barton (DD, Northern Seminary) is founding president of the Transforming Center, a spiritual formation ministry to pastors and Christian leaders. A trained spiritual director (Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation), teacher and retreat leader, she has served on the pastoral staff of several churches, including Willow Creek Community Church. A sought-after teacher, preacher and consultant to leadership teams, she is currently adjunct professor of spiritual transformation at Northern Seminary. Educated at Wheaton College, Northern Seminary and Loyola University Chicago Institute for Pastoral Studies, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life, including Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Sacred Rhythms, Longing for More and Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. She is also the coauthor of An Ordinary Day with Jesus: Experiencing the Reality of God in Your Everyday Life (Willow Creek Resources), and author of an online resource titled eReflections, spiritual guidance via e-mail. She contributes regularly to Conversations: A Forum for Authentic Transformation.

Leighton Ford is President of Leighton Ford Ministries, which seeks to help young leaders worldwide to lead more like Jesus and more to Jesus. For many years, Ford communicated Christ around the globe through speaking, writing and media outreach, addressing millions of people in thirty-seven countries on every continent. He served from 1955 until 1985 as Associate Evangelist and later Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and was featured as the alternate speaker to Billy Graham on the Hour of Decision broadcast. Ford describes his current mission to be "an artist of the soul and a friend on the journey." He served for nearly twenty years as chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, an international body of Christian leaders. He chairs the Sandy Ford Fund and has served as a board member for World Vision U. S., the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He received the 1990 Two Hungers Award, recognizing his contributions to addressing the physical and spiritual hungers of people around the world. In 1985 he was selected as Clergyman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America and TIME Magazine singled him out as being "among the most influential preachers of an active gospel." The author or co-author of numerous books, includingTransforming Leadership and The Attentive Life, Ford lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife Jean.

More About the Author

Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary) is founder of the Transforming Center, a ministry dedicated to strengthening the souls of pastors, Christian leaders and the congregations and organizations they serve. [www.thetransformingcenter.org] A sought-after teacher, retreat leader and trained spiritual director, Ruth is the author of numerous books and articles on the spiritual life.

Educated at Northern Seminary, the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and Loyola University Chicago Institute for Pastoral Studies, she has served on the pastoral staff of several churches including Willow Creek Community Church and is Professor of Spiritual Transformation at Northern Seminary.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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You, or someone close to you, will cherish this book.
John W. Pearson
While this book is more about leadership qualities and life, it is a riveting look at who you are and where you are going with your leadership skills.
L. Wallenius
I highly recommend this book for anyone in leadership because you cannot lead out of what you do not have.
Patrick Chiles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mike Bonem on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Strengthening the soul of our leadership is an invitation that begins, continues and ends with seeking God in the crucible of ministry." These words from the final chapter summarize the central theme of the book. The chapters leading up to it paint a compelling picture of the fruitfulness and joy of leading from a healthy soul that is focused on God, and the risks of soul-less leadership in ministry.

Barton follows the story of Moses and talks about her own journey, including struggles and victories. At times she challenges the reader to take stock and at other times she offers practical advice for refilling our souls. And at the end of each chapter, she offers a "practice" that will help readers to reflect on and apply the teaching they've just read.

I'm not one to read with a highlighter in hand, but within the first few pages I found myself thinking, "Oh, that's good," and marking a couple of sentences for future references. I kept going back to the highlighter as Barton kept taking me to places deep in my spirit. At times Barton's words were a needed wake-up call and at other times they were a source of refreshment. I'm thankful for both, and I'm sure that you will be as well.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John W. Pearson VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The sidebars and the prayers in this book are soul whackers. Like Henri Nouwen's elbow-to-the-gut: "The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there."

Sometimes you're fortunate enough to chew through a book with soul-probing insights and illuminating "Ah ha!" moments. Then there are times when the content is not so soul-shattering, but the writing is poetic and almost symphonic. Amazingly, this 221-page gem is both. It whacked my soul. It raised my sights. I appreciate my God and Savior more today than I did last week.

Bill Hybels often preaches, "Speed of the leader, speed of the team." Perhaps you've had those times like this author, Ruth Haley Barton, who sighed, "I'm tired of helping others enjoy God; I just want to enjoy God for myself." If your leadership life needs not just a boost, but a divine encounter with our Holy God, read this book. Slowly.

"Strengthening the soul of your leadership is an invitation to enter more deeply into the process of spiritual transformation and to choose to lead from that place," writes Barton. "It is an opportunity to forge a connection between our souls and our leadership rather than experiencing them as separate arenas of our lives."

She rightly observes, "The market is glutted with books on leadership, and many contain contradictory messages." She takes leaders down a very slow path of spiritual leadership--focusing on sustenance for their own souls. "Then, rather than offering the cold stone of past devotionals, regurgitated apologetics or someone else's musings about the spiritual life [or might I add the latest email devotional], we will have bread to offer from the oven of our intimacy with God.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Beth Rohrer on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is life giving with the comfort, inspiration, and wisdom it provides to any leadership role within ministry or service
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura K. Emerick on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Through hearing how Moses faced the anger deep within himself I am facing the fear and anger deep within me. As Moses learned to slow down and quiet himself before God he heard God speaking to him. I am seeking to slow down and be quiet before the Lord God and listen to what He has to tell me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. S. Jones on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Strengthening the soul of our leadership is an invitation that begins, continues and ends with seeking God in the crucible of ministry. It is an invitation to stay connected with our own soul - that very private place where God's Spirit and my spirit dwell together in union - and to lead from that place" (210). Barton acknowledges that spiritual leadership is similar to any other kind of leadership in that it is susceptible to the failings of burnout and the weakness of human nature. Without the proper care for themselves and their relationships with Christ, pastoral and ministry leaders can fail in their task of being spiritual leaders. Instead of leading spiritually, they may lead from their own strengths, weaknesses, understanding, wisdom, and draw from their own resources. This will result in tragedy in their lives and in the lives of those who follow them as spiritual leaders.

Barton calls spiritual leaders to engage in a process of spiritual discipline that will allow them to reconnect with the divine presence in their lives and then be able to lead from that connection, with benefits for themselves and those they lead. Using the story of Moses, Barton sketches a process of encountering God through the practice of certain spiritual disciplines, such as solitude, silence, awareness of God's activity, Sabbath rest, and intercessory prayer. Along the way Barton addresses topics such as understanding one's calling, understanding one's own spiritual journey so as to help others on theirs, building healthy ministry teams of interdependent people, and how those teams can exercise the gift of discernment so they can do God's will together.
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