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People of a Certain Character: Mentored Leadership for Servants in the Kingdom Paperback – August 24, 2016
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Jeremy blogs at Mustard Seed Faith and Toolshed Meditations. He and I attended the same seminary (Regent College) and we share an appreciation of C.S. Lewis, Benedictine Spirituality, and Baron Fredrich von Hugel. He once T.A.ed a class I was in and commented that my writing was a 'pedantic plod.' He has a series of 'Dear James' posts on his blog which make me feel self-conscious, especially since we blog about similar themes (I don't think he's really talking to me, but I am never completely sure). He has been a pastor and is currently working on his Ph.D. in Scotland. He is more successful, prolific and smarter than I am. I console myself that I'm much better looking (not actually true, but it is a comforting lie). I've wanted to read one of his books for a while and was excited about this one because leadership development is a growth edge for me as a pastor.
There is nothing plodding about Jeremy's prose. He has produced a handbook of short leadership meditations—twelve scriptural passages organized around twelve questions, discussion and reflection questions, and twelve suggested spiritual practices (plus an introduction and concluding word which follow the same format). This booklet is user-friendly and not heady. This book will be useful in church or ministry lead team discussions, staff retreats, in one-on-one mentoring relationships or even among youth leaders. This is so accessible! Jeremy's questions help us leaders press into what it means to lead from the right source
One criticism I have is that Jeremy's suggested practices are almost wholly private. The exception is he suggests that 'if you are in a tradition that utilizes confession to a pastor or priest, avail yourself of that system" (25), and writing out and practicing your testimony is designed so that you can share it. I believe, as Jeremy does, in the need for cultivating personal devotion, though I wish he articulated corporate, communal spiritual practices more explicitly alongside these, as I think what we do in community also has a major impact on the quality of our leadership.
This is a small (and nitpicky!) critique, especially since I believe the value of this resource is in the way it will deepen our discussions on how to lead well as a follower of Christ. I recommend this book for those who have a hand in training others (though any leader can read through this profitably for their own benefit). I plan on using this book in future leadership and mentoring conversations. I give this five stars - ★★★★★
So: Dear Jeremy, Great job!
Note: Jeremy provided me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. He didn't ask me to say he's smarter than me. It is just true. A fuller version of this review can be found at thoughtsprayersandsongs.com
As I read, my own heart began to melt and God began to speak to me that He's doing a work in my son's life that doesn't require my assistance or coaching. He's transforming Jeremy into his likeness quite without my help. By the time I was a few chapters in, tears of joy at this marvel and the deep teaching from my son's own walk merged.
Since then, I've shared his book with church leaders & pastors who have enthused right back to me how God spoke to them thru the book as well. Practical but deep...and fresh....I give God's work in my son's life thru this book a big thumbs up!