Having read several leadership books as an Air Force Officer and seminary student, I can honestly say that this is the best book on the subject I have ever read! Blackabay's fluent writing style is consistent with his other titles, notably "Experiencing God" and "The Power of the Call". At the very beginning Blackaby differentiates between worldly leadership and spiritual leadership.
Throughout the book Blackaby describes his own leadership experiences and includes interesting stories of famous leaders (Truman, Reagan, Churchill, Thatcher, Napoleon, and Iacocca). As a minister, Blackaby also draws upon several examples from the Bible (Moses, Abraham, Joshua, David, Paul, etc.) and how they prospered and struggled in their God-called responsibilities.
Particularly compelling were the descriptions of: the 3 types of worthy and misguided goals, how a leader influences, time wasters, pitfalls of leadership, having God's affirmation, God's ways are different from the world's ways, improving decision-making, taking time for rest, and relying on the Holy Spirit/prayer/God's Word/wise counsel to make and stick with hard decisions.
Whenever I read a book I like to list on the inside front covers the page number and synopsis of a particularly interesting point or thought for easy reference. When I finished reading this gem the entire inside front cover was chock full of notes! Needless to say, this text will be referred to several times in the future.
Everyone will greatly benefit from this book: the Christian believer will gain great encouragement to lead from a biblical viewpoint while the non-Christian will be encouraged to consider life from the Christian point-of-view. With the failures the world has recently seen in religious and secular leadership, Blackaby's text is a timely arrival. His book is a welcomed relief from the rah-rah-rah motivational hype of other "leadership" books.
I recommend anyone in a leadership role (and everyone is a leader in some way) to buy the book, get a pen/pencil to take notes with, and learn how to become a better leader!!!!!
on August 13, 2001
I have been a secular (although I am a Christian) Business Consultant and Leadership Development Consultant for over 14 years and this is BY FAR the best I have yet read. This book has become required reading for ALL of my Leadership Workshops and I have given the books to many Business Leaders as a gift. The Blackaby's have delivered their message in a clear, easy to understand format and totaly absent of the "Author Focus",(diverting the attention to the brilliance of the author rather than the importance of the message)often found in so many contemporary writings. They accurately discribe modern "man made" leadership ideologies and with equal accuracy point to the flaws and shortcommings of those leadership methods. Most all leaders are constantly wrestling with question "why don't more people do what I would like them to do?" and we are forever looking for new and more meaningfull methods by which to lead those entrusted into our care. Simply put, we always are reminded of the shortcommings of our leadership skills, otherwise, why would we be looking for a new book in the first place. The Backaby's challenge all leaders with this dilemna with a simple, yet brilliant question..."What is it about YOUR leadership that makes others NOT WANT to follow you?" Instead of chasing yet another brilliant theory or yet another brilliant method, the authors challenge US... what is at the center of our motivation and what, if anything, is our guidance system? Spiritual Leadership answers that question and brings to life an ideology that will render any future pursuit of a "new way of looking at things", un-necessary. Above and beyond all (the point which literally changed the way I feel, think and teach)they clearly send the message that no matter how brilliant our leadership theories may be, how well read on the subject we all are, how articulate we may be on the subject of leadership and no matter how well intended our leadership efforts may be,if our leadership is not lead by the holy spirit and we as leaders don't ask for his guidance in our roles as leaders...we simply will fall short of where we could be. If a Leader is in fact dedicated to being the absolute most EFFECTIVE leader that he / she would like to be, then this book is an absolute "must read" whether you're a believer or not.
I found this book very engaging and was able to read through it without multiple pickups. By this I mean, that I didn't put it down for a few weeks and then pick it up again. Instead, I read through it in about four days. Overall, the book was very good. The only area I would have liked to have seen greater depth was in the decision making process. This was one of the shorter chapters and I felt the authors could have gone a little deeper here.
From a Christian perspective on leadership, this book would definitely be in my top five choices along with The Revolutionary Communicator, The Book on Leadership, Lead Like Jesus, and Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge. These other four are fine reads as well.
This work by Richard and Henry Blackaby is the absolute best book on leadership I have read. Having recently graduated with a doctorate in evangelism and church growth, and possessing a passion for reading pastoral material, I have read numerous books on leadership. All of them pale in comparison to this volume.
The authors focus upon a leader's relationship with God as the key to effective leadership. From this relationship flow a leader's vision, goals, influence, and decision-making. All of the basic leadership principles are covered in this book, but they are addressed from the perspective of one's relationship with God. This perspective is what makes this work so unique and so valuable.
I strongly recommend this book to all pastors, church leaders and even to Christian leaders in secular organizations as a "must read." Before reading the volumes of material available from Maxwell, Schaller and other noted leadership authors, try this one! It will transform the way you view leadership as a Christian.
on January 8, 2002
Having recently graduated from a Theological institute with a degree in Leadership, I have come quite well read in the area of Christian/Spiritual Leadership. Richard and Henry Blackaby handle this topic in a fashion unlike any other author. They focus the Christian leader's attention on their own personal life, causing the reader to reflect on their life and their relationship to Christ - and that's where Spiritual leadership begins. In a field inundated with discussion on "Visionary Leadership" the Blackabys remind us of the "vision-giver". We, as Christian leaders "do not sell visions, we share revelations." I would recommend this work to anyone [CEO to pastor, father to deacon] seeking to better their leadership abilities in the Christian arena.
on September 14, 2003
I am a big fan of Blackabys Experiencing God and was looking forward to reading his book on Spiritual Leadership. It was not what I expected. It is an excellent book on leadership, but it is more of a primer novice for leaders than a book for experienced leaders who want to sharpen their leadership skills and character.
But as a primer, it is excellent. Blackaby leads the reader though a list of topics to equip pastors to be spiritual leaders. It runs the gauntlet from The Leaders Challenge to The Leader's Pitfalls and just about everything in between. Like Experiencing God, the Blackabys intersperse their personal experiences with Spiritual Leadership as application.
What makes this book unique is Blackabys emphasis on the spiritual part of leadership. They reject the influence of business models of leadership, specially Collins and Porras advice in Built to Last (BEHAGs - Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and urge the reader to recognize the work of God in the world and to join God in his work.
The authors discussion on vision gives the reader an example of how the Blackabys view spiritual leadership. They criticize leaders who try to get people to buy into their vision. Spiritual leaders should not sell vision, they say; rather, they share what God has revealed to them and trust that the Holy Spirit will confirm that same vision in the hearts of their people. So the job of the leader is to bring the people face to face with God so they can hear from God directly and not through the leader. The Blackabys, however, fail to adequately inform the pastor how to do this. The obvious consequence of this kind of vision casting is that pastors with weak leadership skills would observe where God is at work, ineffectively communicate that vision to their congregations, meet internal resistance, and then conclude that this must not be where God is leading them.
For instance, the Blackabys are Baptist. The averaged Baptist pastor stays in his church for only about 2.5 years. There is a reason for this. Although most Baptist churches are board led, they are for all intents and purposes congregational in their polity. Thus, in many churches, even the most inane proposal must be but through a relentless series of committees and votes. This kind of governance does not tolerate strong leadership very well. If the pastor has a vision from God, he must communicate that vision and trust that the Holy Spirit will confirm it in the hearts of a committee system. This assumes that everyone on all those board and committees is listening to God and is seeking God. In reality, the pastor gets something else; he gets an agenda that is set by the least spiritual, most obstinate member of the congregation.
There is an ethereal quality about leadership that many good leaders do not understand. They have it and they assume that the rest of us, if we just do what they do, will have it. But leadership is much more difficult than this. In this regard, John Maxwell, Oswald Sanders and Bill Hull do a much better job equipping pastors to be leaders. It is a good book, but my fear is that weak, timid leaders will use it as an excuse to do nothing.
on June 8, 2011
Henry Blackaby is the epitome of a lifelong learner and leader. He has extensive experience in pastoral ministry and is a consultant to CEOs and various Christian organizations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention. He has written various books, is a sought out speaker, and currently leads Henry Blackaby Ministries. Richard Blackaby, the son of Henry Blackaby, is also a writer and a sought out speaker. In addition, he has pastoral experience and is currently serving as the president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Canada. Consequently, what stands out clearly is that both have strong ties to the Southern Baptist denomination.
The thesis of this book is that spiritual leadership is all about moving people from where they are to where God wants them to be.
There are differences between general and spiritual leadership principles, but the authors state that those who will lead according to spiritual principles will be far more effective in their leadership (14). Tied to that statement is the belief that God is the one who calls and equips individuals to be spiritual leaders (46). Throughout this book, the authors present nuggets of wisdom that have been gleaned from their own leadership experience and that of others. As a result, this book almost seems like a compilation of essays exploring a variety of leadership issues. Generally though, the book begins by exploring why leadership is needed, the difference between general and spiritual leadership, and how leaders are developed. After covering those introductory issues, the authors continue to explore a variety of issues that leaders need to be aware of, such as: vision, character, goals, influence, decision making, scheduling, pitfalls, and rewards. What holds this book together is the common thread that true leadership originates from God, points people towards God, and reflects the heart and action of God.
The pragmatic focus of this book is a strong point. The authors do not discuss leadership theory, but they share from their leadership experiences. As a result, this book definitely contains years of experience and nuggets of wisdom that every leader can learn from - secular or spiritual, and young or seasoned. For example, the direct correlation between effective leadership and authentic character is true for both Christians and non-Christians (53). Character development is a leadership issue, not only a faith issue.
Although secular leaders can still learn from this book, the authors are unapologetically writing for Christian leaders. They suggest that leaders not seek promotions, but God, since God is the one who ultimately grants the promotions. This only makes sense when one acknowledges the existence of God and understands the Gospel. I agree with the authors that Christians need to seek God and that he is the one who ultimately grants leadership positions to individuals, but in our North American culture, I believe that it is okay to pursue leadership positions and advancement as long as one understands that God is ultimately in control.
It is so encouraging to hear that "the best thing leaders can do for their organization is to grow personally" (31). As a result, I need to constantly grow as a leader. One way that I am currently working on continually learning is by being part of a team that is creating a leadership pathway at my church. We have been developing the leadership pathway for adults, but after reading this book, I now have to go back to the team and talk about how we can incorporate teenagers into this pathway (32). Consequently, although this book does not outline an explicit pathway for leaders, it is filled with nuggets of wisdom that can be applied to many, if not all, leadership contexts.
I give this book a 4 out of 5.
on August 16, 2014
Not impressed, for several reasons. I give a detailed summary below, but for now it will suffice to say that I quit reading after about 150 pages. I was frustrated by the lack of depth and insight, annoyed by the constantly critical tone, and disappointed by what seemed to me to be pretentiousness in the authors' approach to leadership. Honestly, I'm concerned that so many of the reviewers here on Amazon are using this book for a Bible study or college course on leadership.
1) Too critical: This was my first book by either of the Blackabys, so I didn't know what to expect. Apparently, I should have expected strong criticisms of other leadership approaches and especially of Christian leaders. From what I can tell, the authors are working from a premise that the average Christian leader is too self-absorbed to take the time to hear from God. Their plans, ideas, visions, strategies are a result of spiritual immaturity and failing to hear from God. The authors seem to believe this is the norm, not the exception.
2) Too long: the authors suffer from an inability to be concise. Their points are repeated unnecessarily, and the redundancies don't serve clarify their points; they actually detract from them. And while stories or examples can be helpful, this book had so many of them that they began to feel like interruptions. The meaningful content in this book could easily be condensed to 200 pages or less.
3) Too divisive: I continually got the sense that the authors were desperate to condemn any secular leadership experts and their approaches as being ungodly and unfit for Christian leaders. The great irony in this was that at least half of their quotes in the book were drawn from these same secular leadership experts! The authors also had a tendency to make inflammatory statements about how bad and terrible things like goals, strategy, and vision were, only to then back off of those statements by saying, essentially, "I guess those things aren't so bad...as long as you hear from God first." Once again, the assumption they make is that Christian leaders don't hear from God, so we we need to be lectured on things like praying and seeking God's will. It felt condescending.
4) Too inconsistent: I came across numerous instances in the text where the authors seemed to contradict their own points. For example, on page 45, they state "Jesus did not choose twelve disciples as a matter of strategy." Then, on page 143, we read "When Jesus was seeking twelve disciples, he bypassed the professional religious establishment and enlisted business people, including two pairs of fisherman and a tax collector. He found people who understood how the world operated and who were unafraid of working in the middle of it." That sounds an awful lot like strategy to me! For another instance, on page 19 you read that "The trend among many Christian leaders has been toward an almost indiscriminate and uncritical acceptance of secular leadership theory without measuring it against the timeless precepts of Scripture." Seems like a legitimate claim, I suppose, until three sentences later you read "...many of the 'modern' leadership theories currently being espoused are, in fact, biblical principles..." Hahaha! In essence they are saying that Christian leaders are foolish for embracing secular leadership theories that are rooted in biblical truth. Give me a break!
In summary, I was disappointed.
on October 22, 2013
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it as a must read for anyone in a leadership position. I would have given it five stars, but I think it could be edited down to say the same things with less words.
on June 24, 2011
I use this book in a class I teach at our college on Biblical Leadership. Almost every sentence contains a gem that students underline, write down, or want to remember.
One of the best books I have ever read on being a spiritual leader
Highly recommended for pastors, leaders, and students.